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Architecture, design, and media professionals all over the world are using SketchUp to create detailed 3D models efficiently and quickly. In SketchUp 6 Essential Training, design expert George Maestri teaches the foundations of SketchUp's drawing, design, and rendering tools. He covers the fundamentals of the application, the interface, and the Sandbox extension, which is used to create realistic organic shapes and terrain. George also discusses how to model and texture objects from existing photographs and export models to Google Earth to visualize how buildings fit in a real landscape. Exercise files accompany the course.
The next set of tools we are going to look at are these Sandbox tools and what these do is they allow you to create landscapes using curves. They could also be used to create kind of non-regular objects because what they do is they use curves to define a surface. Let me show you how they work but before we do that, we have to load the tools. By default, SketchUp doesn't load the Sandbox tools because they are actually an extension. So what we can do is we can go into our Window > Preferences. If you are on a Mac, you will find these preferences under the SketchUp menu. Then just scroll down to Extensions and you will see the Sandbox tools here, and we can just go ahead and load those and when we do that, you will see here we have an option here for Sandbox, which are some of these tools and there is also a toolbar for Sandbox, which comes up here.
Sandbox works in two ways; one is to create the sandbox or the terrain From Contours and the other one is to create it From Scratch. So let's go ahead and look at the first method, From Contours. We can do that by creating, well some contours. So how do we do that? Well, all we have to do is just create some lines. I am just going to use the Freehand Line tool and just draw some random lines. Let me draw one more here. Here we go. So now that I have these lines, you can see that they are still on the ground plane here. So if I wanted to make like, for example, a hill side, all I have to do is just move these up a little bit, so I just click the lines, select them and then just move them vertically. In fact, let's go ahead and move that one down, just a little bit there, there we go.
So now you can see I have got kind of more of a stair step kind of terrain. In fact, we can probably move this one up a lot more, there we go. So that will be like a hillside. So in order to create a terrain, all we have to do is just select each one of these and then once they are all selected, we can just use this tool which says from contours and what that does, is it uses these curves to create the contours of our terrain.
And what this does is it actually creates an object, a separate object, in fact, I can move this away. It's not connected to the lines at all. Now in some 3D packages, these original lines remain active, so you can edit them but we don't have that in Google SketchUp. But once these curves are created, we do have an object that we can move around and we can use as terrain in our Google scenes. For these curves, you don't really have to draw them freehand. For example, if you are already an architectural project, you can certainly trace out the terrain contours of the site that you are using; you can also do other things with this.
But before we get into those other sorts of applications, let's take a look at what this object that we have created is. This is called a TIN, but essentially what it is is just a network of meshes. It's just a triangular mesh. Right now, it's grouped, so if I Explode that group, you will see this triangular mesh, and what it does is is it just draws edges and creates triangles for whatever it needs to create this particular terrain. So I do have underlying geometry here.
Now a lot of these edges are hidden and if I wanted to, I could go just go to Show Hidden Geometry and I can see those edges and if I wanted to, I could select them and move them around and edit this terrain, if I wanted to. Now, the other thing you can do with this, obviously, since it's just a standard piece of geometry, is you can of course, put Materials on it. For example, if you wanted a groundcover, let's say, you wanted to make it, whatever rock or whatever, you can certainly do that. And so that's a good way to make the terrain for your architectural projects.
Now I am going to select all these and delete them and show you some other applications of this using this From Contours. What I am going to do is I am just going to draw a circle and I am going to go ahead and delete that inside face, so all I have is a circular edge and then I am just going to move this up. So this would be the top part of my terrain or whatever I am going to call it and then I am just going to go ahead and move with the control key and just do a plus and just move vertically. In fact, I can just lock that by using the up arrow key and if I wanted to, I could just use the scale to make this of a slightly different shape.
So let's go ahead and make that a little bigger on each side. So now what I am doing is I am essentially creating a series of round contours and then I am going to use the Move tool again with Control to copy that circular outline again and then just hit the Scale key again and just scale this up just a little bit more. So what I have got is I have got a stair step of circular profiles, so if I select those, if I Shift+Select all of these, I can certainly do a From Contours for that and what it does is it essentially creates kind of a -- well, this kind of looks like Space Mountain or something like that. But you can see how you can use this to almost loft out; it's very similar to a Loft function in a 3D application.
So you can certainly create an outline of curves, if you wanted to and loft them using this From Contours tool. So those are some of the basics of how to create a landscape or a terrain From Contours and in the next lesson, let's go ahead and look at the other tool, which is From Scratch.
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