When terrain has been created in SketchUp either through importing contours from a CAD program or directly from Google Earth, we then usually want to modify it in some way by adding site details from a site map, or vegetation textures from the Materials panel.
We can add site details like drawn roads, boundaries and building footprints by using the various tools included in SketchUp's Sandbox toolbar. To make these visible go to the top View drop-down menu and select Toolbars then Sandbox.
The next step is to import some site details via the top File drop-down menu, and choose Import. This will open up a dialog box in which we can browse to where our file is saved. In the case of SketchUp Pro users we may import the native Cad format of DWG.
The free SketchUp Make users may only import the JPEG file format. Make users would now change the camera view to a plan view by going to the Camera drop-down menu and choosing Top. Then we choose Camera and Parallel. This results in a clearer top view of the scene without any perspective distortion. We could now trace around the details of the JPEG with the Line tool. When the redrawing is complete we would hide the original image and select the newly-drawn site lines. We would then right-click on a line and select Make Component. It's recommended that we then copy the group to one side and open the Entity Info panel by right-clicking or via the top Window drop-down menu. Next we orbit around the scene to an isometric view and use the Move tool to move this object over and above the site plan layer and make this layer invisible by deselecting the check box.
In the case of SketchUp Pro users we would simply move the CAD plans above or below the terrain object. The advantage of having the Pro version in this case is obvious in that we don't have to go to the trouble of redrawing the whole site plan from scratch.
The next step for both sets of users is to return to the Camera drop-down menu and select Top, then Camera and Parallel. We would then select the site plan details and move them either above or underneath the terrain object. We then select the Drape tool which is the third from the right in the Sandbox toolbar. We are then directed to click on the site object first, then on the terrain object. At this point the lines, whether imported from Cad or redrawn manually, will be projected onto the organic terrain object. The original site plan object can now be deleted or hidden from view (right-click, Hide).
It's now possible for us to also add colours and materials to these site details, via the Window menu and Materials panel. Also note that it's not possible to use the Push/Pull tool on curved or smoothed surfaces, although a variety of Ruby scripts and plug-in extensions have been developed for this purpose.
Tom Gillan has been training SketchUp Courses to corporate clients in Sydney for seven years. If you like to enroll on SketchUp course, visit Design Workshop Sydney SketchUp courses webpage for more information.