Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
If you want to create more complex surfaces in SketchUp, you'll probably want to use the Sandbox tools. Now normally these are used to create contours for creating landscapes, but you can also use them to create irregular objects and curves. So let's go ahead and start with landscapes, but before we do, we need to make sure that we have the Sandbox tools turned on. Now these are what are called Extensions, so you have to turn them on. On the PC you'll find them under Window> Preferences; on the Mac you'll find them under SketchUp>Preferences.
But regardless of how you get there, you need to scroll down to Extensions and here we have all of our extensions, and I want to make sure that Sandbox tools are turned on, and then press OK. And once those are turned on, you'll notice that we'll have a Sandbox option under tools, and we'll also have a Sandbox toolbar which we can turn on, and here it is. I'm just going to go ahead and float that over the scene. Now you can create surfaces in Sandbox using two methods. The first one is to use contours, which is what we're going to do now; the second method is from scratch.
So let's go ahead and create a landscape from contours. Now I already have a terrain map loaded here, and if we want we can go ahead and sketch out some of these contours. So I'm going to go into Camera> Standard Views>Top, and then make sure I have Parallel Projection turned on, so that way we can draw these pretty accurately. So I'm going to go ahead and draw these with the Freehand tool. So I'm going to select Freehand and I'm going to start on this inner contour because it's the smallest, and then I'm just going to go ahead and trace this.
Now I'm going to try to be as accurate as possible, but just so that you know, SketchUp isn't going to follow these exactly, it's a little rough. So if I don't get them exactly right, it's not going to affect it too much. So once I get towards the end here, I want to make sure that I overlap the end here and close that, so that way I get a face. So let's do this on this one again, let's do the next one. And again, sometimes I find that tracing more slowly gives me a little bit more accuracy.
But again, I'm just going to do this fairly quickly because I don't want to waste too much time doing this. So here we go very quickly. Now I want to make sure that I get that endpoint closed. Okay. Now once I have these, I want to go ahead and delete the inside face. So each one of these has a face, so I'm going to go ahead and delete that, and that way I get this outside edge. I'm going to do same for this one. Now I'm going to show you a little secret here, and that is I actually created some of the other outlines, so we don't have to do them.
So under layers, go into Window>layers and just turn on Contours and you'll see that I already have the rest of these contours drawn. So let's go ahead and zoom out and I'm going to go ahead and rotate my camera, make sure I'm back in Perspective mode, and let's take a look at the contours that I've drawn. Now this map can go away because I don't really need it now that I have the contours drawn. So I'm going to go ahead and do Edit> Hide, so now all I have are my contours. So what I need to do is bring these contours up in equal amount.
Now the map that I have was a lot larger than the scale I'm working with here, so we can just create our own scale just for demonstration purposes. So what I'm going to do is select the inside lines here and then just move them up one foot each. So I'm just going to select my Move tool and then go ahead and move them up along the Blue Axis, and then I can just type in 12 inches, so each one of these is going to be 12 inches apart in this particular scene. So I'm going to go ahead and move that up, and again, I can type in the number 12 and it should snap exactly to where I want.
And then select the inner two, move this up. Again, I'm holding the Up Arrow so I can snap to the Blue Axis, and then just type in the number 12 to get 12 inches. And then let's go ahead and get this last one here, and again, holding the Up Arrow, moving up, and then just type in 12 for 12 inches. So now I have all of these contours and they're equidistant apart. Now all we have to do is use the Contours tool to turn those into a surface.
So all I have to do is select all of them and then just select From Contours, and it will create my terrain. Now notice how on the edge it didn't fall over this outside contour exactly, it will kind of approximate in some respects. So just understand that as you work with it. Now once we've created this terrain, notice how this is actually a separate object. So if I click on the terrain itself, it's a grouped object, so I can actually move that off of the curves.
Now these curves, once they're used to generate the surface they're not attached. Now in some 3D programs the curves would still be live and you can manipulate them and manipulate the surface, you really can't do that in SketchUp. So it's basically just select the curves regenerate the surface if you want to change something. But let's take a look at the surface and how it's constructed. Well, first of all it starts off as a group. If we want we can explode that group and see what the surface looks like on the inside. So if I go into Group>Explode, you'll see that the surface is really just a triangular network, and what it does is it takes the contours and it tries to triangulate that.
Now if you want you could technically go in and change those edges. If I wanted to I could turn on Hidden Geometry and see all those edges, and if I wanted to I could select an edge and move it or scale it or do whatever. Typically, I find that with these complex terrains that's not going to happen because these are so interwoven; if you move one, you kind of mess up the whole thing. So I'm going to go ahead and turn off Hidden Geometry so we can see that. But this is a pretty accurate terrain to the contours that we created.
So as you can see, we can use contours to create terrain within SketchUp. Now we can use this tool for other things as well, and let's take a look at that in the next lesson.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
100 Video lessons · 11052 Viewers
56 Video lessons · 9858 Viewers
83 Video lessons · 7781 Viewers
97 Video lessons · 5808 Viewers