Skill Level Intermediate
- Hi, I'm George Maestri and today we're looking at how to work with FBX files in SketchUp. Now FBX is a very common format for 3D files. Autodesk uses it extensively as do a number of other software vendors. And it's a great format for getting to and from different software packages. Now SketchUp Pro does support FBX export so if you want to give somebody an FBX file, that's great.
But if they give one to you, well, then you have a little bit of a problem because SketchUp does not natively support FBX import. So I'm going to show you how to first export an FBX file and then some methods for importing them as well. Now the first thing I'm going to show you is how to export FBX. So here I have a simple file, and let's go ahead and export it. So I'm going to go file, export, 3D model. And as you can see we have a number of different formats for export.
And one of those is FBX. So I'm going to export it to my exercise files folder. And I'm just going to use the same file name. This is called FBX house.fbx. So let's go ahead and export that. And my export gives me some results and I can click okay. Now if I want to take a look at what happened I can look at my exercise files folder here. Now I've got two entities here in this folder. One is the actual FBX file. But in addition to that, SketchUp will export another folder with all of the textures.
So if I go into this FBX house folder, you'll see these are all of the textures I used in this model. So when you send an FBX file to someone else, make sure you include both the FBX file as well as the folder with the textures. And now we have an FBX file on our hard disk. So let's go ahead and import that. Now this is where the problem comes up because if we want to go file, import, you'll see that we don't really have FBX as a native file format.
Now this is in SketchUp 2018. So I'm going to have to do one of two things. Either I'm going to have to use an extension or I'm going to have to use an external converter to convert this file to something that SketchUp will recognize. So let's start off with some extensions. So the most straightforward way. So if we go into our Extension Warehouse and just type FBX into the search box you'll see we get two main plug ins that show up at the top of the list.
One is called SimLab FBX importer the other one is called FluidImporter Pro. Now SimLab will import FBX. The full version cost $79. And you can use it for about 30 uses before it actually goes off of trial, so that's a great way to get a quick FBX import. FluidImporter Pro is $99 but it supports a lot of other formats.
So .OBJ, .STL, .PLY, a lot of different formats in addition to FBX. So if you're working with multiple formats this might be the one to choose. Now they both work and if all you do is FBX then it's really whichever one you like best. But if you're using multiple files FluidImporter is actually a little bit better. So let's just take a look at how this works and make sure that we can import an FBX file. So I have FluidImporter Pro installed and it shows up under my extensions menu.
So all I have to do is import but before that we also have options. Now there's only a few options here one is how do you want to work with axis, coplanar faces, do you want to triangulate faces as you import them? If you're importing things such as .obj, do you want to import the groups? But the most important option is the unit. So right now I have it set for inches and that's because I exported an object that was measured in inches.
If I were to change this to feet or meters, when I import it, it will come in a lot bigger because one meter is a lot bigger than one inch. So you need to be aware of exactly how it was exported before you import. So you want to just check, make sure whoever's giving you the file, tells you the measurements and you match that up. So once I have that all set up, all I have to do is just go ahead do FluidImporter Pro, import. There's my FBX house.fbx.
Open that up and there it is. Okay, so that worked pretty well. Now if you don't want to spend a lot of money, you might want to consider an external FBX plug in. Now there's a really great one that Autodesk provides. I'm just going to go ahead and open up a browser window here. And if you search for Autodesk FBX 2013 converter, you should find a page that looks like this.
This has a converter that will not only read FBX files but also convert it to a couple of different formats that SketchUp can import natively. So if you want to you can go ahead and install either of the Windows versions or the Mac version. And when you do, you get a program that looks something like this. So I've opened up my Autodesk FBX converter and this is actually a windowed system. So we have five different functions here. We have a converter, we have an explorer, we have what's called a tape manager, now that's for animation, it's not something that we'll be using in SketchUp.
We also have an FBX viewer so you can take a look at what's inside of an FBX file. Now these all show up as individual windows. So if I were to add FBX viewer here I could actually open up a file such as this FBX house and I could actually take a look at what it looks like. Now notice how this animation is running here cause FBX does support animation but we have no animation in this particular file. And so actually can look at individual FBX files and that's kind of nice.
But what we're here for is conversion. So let's take a look at how to work the FBX converter. So when I open that up again it brings up a little window that floats in this interface. And all we have to do is add in our files. So I'm going to go up to my exercise files, find FBX house, open it up, and it puts it into that destination file as well and it's going to just use that same pathing that we had. And then we can change the destination format.
Now we can down save it to lower versions of FBX, or we can save it to a DXF, an OBJ, or a Collada file. Now I find Collada is probably the best format for SketchUp, so let's go ahead and start with that. So I'm going to do a DAE Collada, notice how this changes. And then if we want we can set options here. So if I open that up or close it you'll see that there's options if that format supports it Collada has no additional options.
So let's go ahead and hit convert. And that's it. It was converted. So I'm going to go back into SketchUp let's do a file, import, go back up into our exercise files, and in this case we're looking for Collada files. And there it is, FBXHouse.dae. Import that, and it came in actually smaller it came in like it was sized for centimeters or millimeters but it did come in, so we may need to rescale this or size it up again.
So I can just select scale and size it up appropriately. Now another way that we can export is to other formats. So if I wanted to say do DXF I could do that. And we do have some options for DXF do we want to triangulate, do we want to bake deformations? Well that's not really something that SketchUp will support and we can certainly convert to that format as well. So as you can see the FBX converter will allow you to get from an FBX file into SketchUp through either Collada, or DXF files.
And if you do a lot of FBX work it might make sense to buy an extension that does it within SketchUp.
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