Michael Lavalley, one of my favorite Sketchup artist posted on Twitter today a really helpful guide about how to export an optimized image from SketchUp. He also provided video guides for each setup which I think makes it easier to follow.
As we all know SketchUp is a great program for 3D modeling and learning more about this software through series of guides and tutorials will help develop our skills in 3D.
In his tutorial, Michael first talks about setting up your scenes in Sketchup. He provided the video below so we can all follow and learn.
Setting Up Scenes in SketchUp
According to him, the first thing we need to understand are the scenes because, in Sketchup, you do everything from modeling to editing within a single viewport. It allows you to save the model’s position as well as other attributes so that you can return the camera to a fixed moment.
So how do you setup your scene? Simply go to the Windows menu at the top of the program and select the Scenes tray. From here, you can set views using the “+” sign. The “–” sign will allow you to delete Scenes. The rotational arrow symbol will allow you to update Scenes if you make any changes you wish to keep.
Using the Camera Tools
You need to use the camera tools that are at your disposal in order to develop a captivating scene. Most views you’ll see in renderings are taken from the first-person vantage point at eye level.
Position Camera: You can use this tool by clicking the tool icon that looks like a little man standing over a pair of crosshairs. Next, click on a ground surface in your model where you anticipate the ‘feet’ of the person to go. SketchUp will fill in the blanks and automatically position the camera at that location, 5 feet 6 inches above the floor.
Walk: Next, you can move the camera around while maintaining that same eye level by using the Walk tool. Click the tool icon that looks like two feet. From there, click in the center of your view and drag the mouse around. You’ll notice that the camera is moving forward along the path that you drag the cursor. The difference between this and a simple zoom is that the Walk tool keeps the camera’s vertical position at the same height it started at. This is the closest way to experience your model from a person’s vantage point.
Look Around: To further refine your view, you can use the Look Around tool. To activate it, click the icon that looks like an eye. To move the camera’s view but maintain its position, click and drag the eye with the mouse. The camera will remain in a fixed location, simulating someone standing still but moving their head around to see.
Refining Your Image in SketchUp
After understanding the concept of scenes and play around the different camera tools, it’s time for you to set up your scene of choice and populate it with other information.
After setting your Scene, go to the Shadow Settings tray to add shadows to your view. Click the cube icon that has a shadow on it to toggle the shadows in your model on and off. You can use the tray’s options to determine the exact day and time of year that you want the shadows to represent. (Play around it until you are satisfied)
After you’ve established a setting that you’re happy with, just go back to the Scenes tray and use the update toggle to make your settings permanently part of your view.
Note: This will overwrite what you had before. If you don’t want to overwrite the previous view, simply click the “+” again in order to set up a second view.
It’s not atypical for a model to have a default view where all of the extra settings are turned off and a primary view where all presentation settings remain on. Working without a lot of the extra settings will help maintain a steady workflow and keep from overburdening your computer.
Exporting Your Image From SketchUp
Once you are satisfied with your scene or image, let’s export your final image. To do that, go to File > Export > 2D Graphic. You’ll see a typical save window popup. Choose the desired format and then click on the Options button next to the format toggle.
By default, SketchUp will want to export your actual screen as is. It is however recommended to use about a 4,000-pixel width while leaving the aspect ratio intact. In other words, only change the width and not the height so that the overall image doesn’t stretch in unexpected ways. This way, you’ll know that you’re getting the same image that you settled on.
After that, set the resolution to 300 pixels/inch, always leave the Anti-alias box checked and make the quality toggle go as high as it will let you.
Note that a few of these options may be different from one image format to the next. The main idea here, though, is to keep the aspect ratio the same while increasing the image quality so that your overall image maintains the qualities you desired while yielding the best product possible.
The process is fairly straightforward from there. Click “OK,” then choose a name for the exported image and a location for where you want to save it to.
That’s it, you have just exported your image from SketchUp. Congratulations!
You can visit Michael LaValley’s website here and read the complete guide. I’m sure you’ll find a lot of gems there.