SketchUp Plugin: Camera Recorder

Record your moves and export them as a set of images to create an animation
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
We saw on a previous post how to create an animation using the Flightpath.rb plugin. If what we want is to create a walkthrough, the Camera Recorder Plugin works better (at least for me). With this Plugin by Chris fullmer, you can walk through the mode using the walk tool from sketchup, and record the moves and get them exported to a series of images. See the video where Chris Explains how to use this Plugin.

You can download the plugin here

Show me more...

SketchUp: Exporting an animation with Good Quality.

SketchUp animations exports are pretty bad in quality, how to improve that?
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
I had to export an animation for a recent project at school, and the regular exports from SetchUp were way to bad in quality. So I set myself to try to find a better way to do that. A bit of research on the internet showed me that if you export the animation as individual images and compile them on a movie file, the results should be better. Following some of the advice from Colin Holgate on this thread I exported my different scenes as series of JPEGs (I didn't realise it was better to export as PNG, I read the thread to quickly). The export resolution as 2048 x 1152 for a 16:9 widescreen format. Colin on his post explained he exported at 4096 x 2304 px, but my machine is old and I was time pressed to finish this, so i had to sacrifice quality for time.
Also, the methodology is slightly different, since he was exporting from a Mac and I was doing it from a PC. In any case, the steps I followed were these:
  1. Set up the animation scenes using the FlightPath Plugin
  2. Configure the Animation so it does not pause on each scene (see this post about it)
  3. Export the Animation ( I used export as JPEG and quality 2048x1153px, ideally you want to export a bit higher quality and PNG format)
  4. Reduce the Exported Images to a lower resolution (I reduced them to 853 x 480px)
  5. Compile the images in a Movie file using Quicktime Pro
  6. Combine the different scenes and add credits + music using Adobe Premiere Pro
This is the video after following these steps.

As you can see, the quality is still not impressive. This is due to several reasons:
  • I exported as JPG by mistake instead of PNG
  • I should have exported the original images in higher quality to reduce the flickering of lines
  • It was my first time using Premiere, so I had no idea which settings I was using.

As you see, I am still a newby on this, I just wanted to share the work done. Anyone who has some advice on how to better attempt to get a high quality animation out of SketchUp that is still manageable in size, feel free to comment.

Show me more...

SketchUp Plugins: Create a Fly through animation

Do you need to create a flythrough animation in SketchUp? Use this plugin to set up the scenes.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
The Flightpath.rb Plugin allows you to easily create fly through type of animation. It is very simple to use and has several options to set the target of the camera.

If you want to do a fly through sort of animation, you probably want to use the first option, which basically creates an animation where the camera follows the path (it basically uses the next node or vertex of the path as the camera target). For other sort of animations (like the one I am going to show on the next post) you can use the other three options which basically let you choose if the camera points to a single target all the time, if it changes target on a straight line from one point to another, or if the target moves also on a second path.

The Plugin can be downloaded here for free. There is a newer version of the plugin called Flightpath 2, also available at Smustard, it costs 7$, but I haven't tested it.

Show me more...

How do you Export SketchUp Layers to AutoCAD?

This is an open question, not a solution. Is there a Plugin for that?
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
I've been asked if there is a way to export the SketchUp layers when exporting to AutoCAD as 2D drawing. All my Google searches have been useless, so here comes the question in case someone can help with this.
Is there a Plugin to Export as 2D Drawing from SketchUp to AutoCAD and get the geometry to keep the layers from SketchUp?. Right now the only thing that seems possible is to separate the geometry in Cut Edges and Profile Edges.
SO please, if anyone knows how to do this share it here! THanks

Show me more...

SketchUp Plugins: Extrude an Edge following two Rails

Another curved surface creation Plugin. SketchUp is becoming more powerful day by day. Thanks to TIG this time!
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Need to extrude an edge following two contour edges? A new Plugin by TIG will do it for you. The "Extrude Edges by Rails" plugin developed by TIG allows you to select the edge to be extruded and the two rails to use as extrusion path.
On the following example, see how from the three curved lines shown on the upper picture, I created the surface on the lower picture. Pretty cool ha!?

To use it (after installing the plugin) go to Plugins-->Extrude Edges by Rails. Just a bit of advice before running it, the example shown here took more than 5 minutes to be created (I am running a 3 year old Laptop 2.0Ghz Core 2 Duo with 2Gb of Ram). At some point I though the computer was hung, but it didn't, just be patient.

You can download the Plugin here. Thanks to TIG.

Show me more...

SketchUp: Modelling a Terrain #01

What are the steps to follow to model a terrain in SketchUp? See them following this series of posts.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
The first thing we need to do to be able to model a terrain, is to have clean topographic lines. This task is definitely better done on a CAD drafting platform such as AutoCAD.
Ideally, we want to have topo-lines all connected, without gaps in them, and of course we want each of this topo lines to be at the right height. Getting this clean geometry is probably the most time consuming proces of modelling the terrain. See below for a "before and after" version of a typical topo file.

Once we have it, we just need to import the geometry to Sketchup and we are ready to start. To model the terrain, we need the SandBox tools. Although they come standard with sketchup, they need to be activated, so if you can´t see them, go to Windows --> Preferences --> Check that the box of the SandBox is Active --> Then go to View --> Toolbars --> Sandbox.

Before we proceed to use the sandbox tool to model the terrain, I strongly encourage you to use the Simplify Contours Plugin to simplify a bit the topo lines. Otherwise, the resulting terrain might be too heavy to handle.

Once we have done this, we simply need to select topo-lines, and click on the "from contours" tool in the Sandbox toolbar.

This will create the basic terrain. As you can see on the image below.

To represent it resembling a real life model I also added the sides and to be able to understand better how the terrain works, I used Chris Fullmer's "color by Z" plugin to paint the terrain. See below.

On future posts we will see how to add simple roads, how to place buildings, how to add vegetation, context terrain from Google earth, etc. I´ll try to use this same model for the other tutorials so anyone can follow them by downloading the file.
BTW, tomorrow is thanksgiving, so those who celebrate it, have a wonderful time with your families and/or friends. Don't get too crazy with the shopping deals...we are still on recession.

Show me more...

AutoCAD: List of Objects

The list of all the AutoCAD object types. Links to the different categories of objects and relevant posts about them.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Back in September I started the series "AutoCAD list of Objects". As the series is finished right now, I thought i would be good to have a main post that works as a directory for all of the posts of the series. So here are the links to all those posts.
Remember that you can access this typo of posts that work as a directory of the website by clicking on the "directory" link on the orange navigation bar on the header.

If you find any missing objects, please don't hesitate to contact me and I'll add them on the right category. Thanks!!

Show me more...

AutoCAD: Updating Fields Automatically

A system variable controls how fields are updated, play with it if you are having trouble.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
My post about using fields in dynamic blocks has aroused some comments (mostly on the spanish version of the post) about the fact that the field of the sample block does not update automatically. I set myself to find why was that and if there was a solution.
This is the block I am talking about.The idea is that when you stretch the dynamic block, the field that shows its width should stretch too. Unfortunately this seems to not be possible, as fields require at least a "REGEN" to be updated. The research let me to discover the FIELDEVAL system variable, that actually controls how fields are updated. This are the options on setting the value of this system variable:
  • 0: Not updated
  • 1: Updated on open
  • 2: Updated on save
  • 4: Updated on plot
  • 8: Updated on use of ETRANSMIT
  • 16: Updated on regeneration
At least I didn't waste my time completely...and you get to learn something new too.

Show me more...

SketchUp Plugin: Geometric Curve Smoothing

Another free form editing plugin for SketchUp. Who said sketchup could only handle boxy geometry??
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Editing curves and so called free form geometry is something important when we want to design buildings that are something more than a set of boxy shapes. Slowly, the ruby programmers are coming with more and more plugins to do this, turning SketchUp slowly into a great tool, too, for free form modelling.
The latest one I came across with, is the Geometric Curve Smoothing. What it does is better explained on the video below.

The plugin is still under development (currently version 1.1 is out). You can download this version via the author's page.

Show me more...

SketchUp Plugins: Smart Push Pull

Push faces smartly with this plugin from a4chitect.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
The standard push pull tool doesn't give us sometimes the results we want when the geometry we have is not formed by perpendicular faces. If we have oblique adjacent faces to the one we want to push/pull. Let's see an example of what I mean. On the following model, we want to push the face colored in orange.

The standard Push Pull tool only considers the selected face, regardless of what type of geometry is adjacent to that face. The result would be something like this.

But if what we want is that the push operation understands that there is an oblique face "touching" the face we are pushing, we need to use the SmartPushPull plugin created by a4chitect. This plugin will allow us to get the following result without the need of complicated cleanups.

The plugin is still under development, so I'll just post the link to the Sketchucation thread where you will be able to download it and get the newest versions as soon as they are published.
One of the things you will notice is that the current version v0.26 does not delete the original face and lines, but this can be partially solved by using the "delete coplanar edges" plugin, that we saw on a previous post at CAD-Addict.

Show me more...

Powerpoint: Batch Importing Images

How do you import at once a set of images into PowerPoint?
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
I have never talked about PowerPoint here in CAD-Addict because it always feels it is a bit off topic. But the truth is that PowerPoint (or any similar version like its pen source counterpart - OpenOffice's Impress) is an important tool involved on the CAD work-flow, as the final tool used to present most of what we've done with other programs. So expect once in a while to find some posts about it from now on, specially now that at school I am using it more and more for my presentations.
Today, just want to describe an easy way to batch insert images in Powerpoint. This is useful to create simple presentations. Once we have created our presentation sheets, we might want to import them into PowerPoint at once.
To do this, you simply need to go to the insert tab (Office 2007) and click on Photo Album. Click on "select picture from File/Disk" to search for the folder were you have stored your presentation drawings and simply select the ones you want to include in your presentation. See the dialog box you will be dealing with below.

You can choose the layout you want for the inserted images, normally, fit to slide is for the use of doing a presentation of drawings the most adequate, but you could play with the other options in case you need it.

Show me more...

Happy Halloweeen to everyone!

Just want to wish you all a happy halloween
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Either if you are from north america and feel it as something of your own, or if you are just enjoying it because you like to get a costume and go out.
I love this night, so I just want to share it with you. Enjoy it, and be safe!
Happy Halloween!!

Show me more...

AutoCAD: List of Dynamic Block Objects

The list of entities/objects used in dynamic blocs.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
The last post on the series Lists of AutoCAD Objects. This time about the objects used in Dynamic Blocks, and links to relevant posts that dealt with some of them.

Show me more...

Autodesk - Graphisoft - Nemetschek Software for Free

Are you a student? Then you are lucky, the major CAD and BIM vendors will let you download their products for free.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Going back to school has an advantage, and that is that you can get free versions of the major CAD and BIM software available. If you are trying to learn a new software, or simply need to use on your personal computer the software that you already have available in the school PCs, don't bother looking for pirated versions. Most of the major vendors will let you get a free version of their products if you have an email address provided by your school. See that this are not intended to be 30 day trial versions, but 1 year subscriptions (except for 3Ds and Maya, only 6 months)Here come the links.

Autodesk Education Community: Here you will be able to download for free the following programs:
  • Autodesk Revit Architecture
  • Autodesk Reevit Structure
  • Autodesk Revit MEP
  • AutoCAD
  • AutoCAD Architecture
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D
  • AutoCAD Electrical
  • AutoCAD Map 3D
  • AutoCAD MEP
  • AutoCAD Mechanical
  • AutoCAD p and ID
  • AutoCAD Structural Detailing
  • Autodesk Ecotect
  • AutoCAD Raster Design
  • Autodesk Impression
  • Autodesk Maya
  • Autodesk 3Ds Max
  • Autodesk 3Ds Max Design
  • Autodesk Navisworks Manage
  • Autodesk Algor Simulation Professional
  • Autodesk Alias Automotive
  • Autodesk Inventor Professional
  • Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis Professional
  • Autodesk Showcase
  • Autodesk Sketchbook Pro
Graphisoft Student and Teacher Webpage: If you are looking for free software from Graphisoft, here you will find:
  • ArchiCAD 12
  • Artlantis Studio 2.1
  • Cigraph Bundle
  • MEP Modeler
  • ECO Designer
  • CADImage
  • Objective
Nemetschek also allows free downloads of their software for students by registering. In this case the download sites are specific for each software.
Bentley only seems to provide a FREE version of their Microstation PowerDraft V8 XM Edition. But I thought I'd mention it here anyways.

Show me more...

AutoCAD: Extracting Data to Excel

Do you need to extract the object properties to an excel sheet? Easy, don't do it manually.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Sometimes we might need to get information of some of the objects exported to an Excel Sheet to do some further calculations there. A good way to automate this process if we have a lot of objects is to use the DATAEXTRACTION wizard.
To access it simply type DATAEXTRACTION and follow the instructions. You'll be able to select which objects you want to export data from (or alternatively all the objects on a drawing or several drawings, see below)

You can always select which properties of the objects you want exported (length, object type, layer, color, etc) making it simple to later differentiate the objects in Excel.

By default, Object Name and Count will also be exported. Object Count means that if you have 2 objects with their properties being identical (those that you are exporting), the exported excel sheet will only show 1 row, and a count of 2. Name, is basically the type of object. See the image with 5 lines, and the excel sheet obtained after exporting only the layer and length of the objects.

As you can see the lines with equal length and layer show only once in the table, with a count of 2. If we had included other properties in the export settings (like start X or start Y) the lines would not have been grouped because the data extracted would be different.

Show me more...

SketchUp: Easy Paint different Objects with Random colors

Need to paint a bunch of faces randomly? Don't do it manually, there is a plugin for that.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Chris Fullmer published a while ago the plugin clf_extrapolate_colors.rb that allows us to paint a bunch of faces with random colors. It is very easy to use and it allows a good level of control on the randomization process, i.e. which colors should appear more often, etc.
On the smustard page where you can download the plugin there is also a very useful video posted by Chris that explains more in depth what this plugin is capable of.

Show me more...

SketchUp 7.1 Released

New update available.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
I am quite late on this, last weeks my access to internet has been less regular than desirable. In any case, a new update on SketchUp is out. Version 7.1 brings some new features, so far nothing impressive though for what I've seen from the videos posted at the Official Google SketchUp Blog. Judge by yourself.
New Tools in SU to model context

New Tools in Layout 2.1

As I said before, so far I am not impressed by this new features. What about you? Did any of you try them? Are they worh updating to 7.1?

Show me more...

Maxwell Render 2 is Out!

Finally Maxwell 2 is out. No more waiting, time to give it a try.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
A couple of months ago we saw that Next Limit was getting ready for a new release of Maxwell Render. Well, it is finally out, Maxwell Render 2.0 is here, so it is time to give it a try. So far only existing clients can upgrade.

As soon as I get time to try it, I'll post my thoughts about the new features.

Show me more...

SketchUp Plugins: Simplify Contours

Simplify your inework to optimize your model. Specially useful for site modeling to make terrains simpler.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Site modeling can become an issue because the model can become very heavy, specially if we model complex topography. The best way to create a 3D model from your topographic lines is to use the SandBox tools. Simply follow this process.
  • If you have a cad file with the topo lines at the right height each, simply import it to SketchUp (File --> Import --> Select DWG as the file format)
  • Then select the topo lines in SketchUp and click on the "from Contours" button in the Sandbox Tool Bar.

This will create a terrain, but depending on how detailed your topo lines where, this might create a very heavy (in terms of memory) terrain. If you don't need 100% accuracy on how the terrain is modeled (and almost no one does) and want to optimize your model size, use the SimplifyContours.rb Plugin. This Plugin allows you to select the topo lines (Contours) and simplify them as much as you want/need. If your original topographic lines were splines in AutoCAD this is definitely a must, otherwise your model will become unbearably heavy.
This is a pretty old plugin, but still 4 years later it can save you from a struggle with a super heavy terrain model. Download it here if you please.

Show me more...

AutoCAD: List of Reference Objects

A complete and Organized list of the AutoCAD reference Objects for Annotation and links to those explained in CAD Addict.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Following the previous posts about Lists of AutoCAD Objects here comes the next list. This time about the objects intended as references (ie, XREFs, Blocks, Imafes, etc).

The series of "list of AutoCAD Objects" will have one last post about Actions and Parameters for Dynamic Blocks.

Show me more...

SketchUp: Save And Reuse Your Custom styles

How do you use a style you created in one model on a different model? How do you transfer/export styles?
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Personalized styles in SketchUp are important to create your own look on your models. Transferring styles from file to file is not just a copy and paste process (although it can be done that way). The best way to do it is as follows.
To save the style, Once you have it defined, go to the Styles Window (Window --> Styles) and do this:
  1. Click on the "In Model" button to see the style you have created
  2. Right click on the style and select "Save As"
  3. Create a Folder where you want to store your personalized styles

To apply the style you just saved to a new model, open the new model and do as follows:
  1. Open the Style browser (Window-->Styles)
  2. Click the "Details" Button on the lower right side (see number 1 on the image below)
  3. Click on Open or Create Library
  4. Select the folder where you saved the style on the previous step

Now you should be able to see the style created on your first model from your second model.

Show me more...

SketchUp Plugins: Extrude Multiple faces at Once

Is there a way to offset a bunch of faces at once? There is a Plugin of course.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
If we want to extrude (push/pull) a lot of faces the same distance, we might use the default SketchUp Push Pull tool, but it might take very long if we have a lot of faces. By default, if we push one face and then double click on different one, the new one will be push/pulled the same distance.
But what happens if we have 100 faces and we want to push them all the same distance? We need a piece of code to do that. The simplest ruby I found is called multiple_push_pull.rb. It does exactly that. We select all teh faces we want to extrude, go to Plugins --> Multiple Push Pull (after installing the Plugin of course). The result will be all the faces extruded the same distance. See this couple of examples.

I don;t know who wrote the plugin originally since the code doesn;t have any credits. In any case you can download it here.

Show me more...

AutoCAD: List of Annotation Objects

A complete and Organized list of the AutoCAD Objects for Annotation and links to those explained in CAD Addict.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Following the previous posts about Lists of AutoCAD Objects here comes the next list. This time about the objects intended for annotation.
  • 3 Point Angular Dimension
  • Aligned Dimension
  • Angular Dimension
  • Arc Length Dimension
  • Attribute
  • Attribute Definition
  • Diametric Dimension
  • Jogged Dimension
  • Leader
  • MText
  • Multileader
  • Ordinate Dimension
  • Radial Dimension
  • Rotated Dimension
  • Text
  • Tolerance

If you think there is any missing Annotation Object, please post a comment here

Show me more...

AutoCAD: List of 3D Objects

A complete and Organized list of the AutoCAD 3D Objects and links to those explained in CAD Addict.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Following the List of 2D Objects posted last week here comes this next post of the series.
  • 3D Face
  • 3D Polyline
  • 3D Solid
    - Box
    - Cone
    - Cylinder
    - Pyramid
    - Sphere
    - Torus
    - Wedge
    - Extrusion
    - Sweep
    - Revolve
    - Loft
  • Body
  • Helix
  • Polyface Mesh
  • Surface
    - Extrusion
    - Loft
    - Planar
    - Revolve
    - Sweep

In this case, some of the Objects appear mostly as parts of other objects, like Body or Surface Objects.

Show me more...

SketchUp Plugins: Layer Manager

Manage Layers in SketchUp as if you were in AutoCAD. A great Plugin by Didie Bur
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
One of the main reasons why using layers in SketchUp was never very comfortable was the layer manager. The way the default layer manager works is not very practical (this is my opinion, but I really tend to forget about sing the different layers I created because of the Layer Browser).
Didier Bur and his LAYER MANAGER plugin have solved this issue. Layer Manager will add two toolbars to SketchUp that will make your life incredibly easier. This are the two toolbars you'll get.

Layer Manager basically works to create and manage layer states. This means for those who are not used to use layers, to save the state of the layers at a certain point (like having layer A and B visible and Layer C and D hidden) and be able to recover it at any point of time.
Layer Tools works to switch between current active layers, to move objects from layer to layer, and much more.
The best way to learn all the great functionaity of this Plugin is to Download it from the original Sketchukation thread (you need to be registered) and read the PDF that comes with the download.

Show me more...

SketchUp Plugin: Draw Polylines, Bezier Curves, Splines and Chamfered PLines

Do you find the default Bezier curve tool hard to use? This plugin will make dealing with Bezier Curves and other 2D geometry much easier.
Català - Castellano - Deutsch
Fredo6 has been busy again creating another amazing Plugin to draw, and most important, edit bezier curves. With it you can draw bezier curves, polylines, B-splines, Courbettes (multi tangent arc polyline), Catmull Splines, F-Splines... Yeah I don't know either the exact meaning of most of these terms, but they are very useful as different methods to draw curves. The best as I mentioned is the possibility to edit them using their control points. This is the toolbar that will appear when you install the Plugin.

The Plugin can be found here. For an extra feature (drawing chamfered Polylines) you will need the extension posted here. To download both the plugin and the chamfer extension, you will need to be registered at See some shapes generated with the different curves and the option "close loop nicely".

Show me more...