Have some fun and pick up workflow tips from SketchUp Allstars. Register for our free, eight-week webinar series today!
0:00 This is the first of two grading and terrain exercises that we’re going to do to help brush up on some basic terrain and grading skills before applying them to our base model.
0:11 This first exercise is going to review each of SketchUp’s native Sandbox tools.
0:17 Let’s get started by browsing to our exercise files and then to the ‘SketchUp Model Files’folder and locate the ‘Terrain Exercises’ SketchUp file and open it up.
0:33 As you can see there are a bunch of scene tabs already set up in here to help guide us as we move through each of these quick and fun little stand-alone exercises one by one.
0:42 As you can see there are a bunch of scene tabs already set up in here to help guide us as we move through each of these quick and fun little stand-alone exercises one by one.
0:42 So make sure you’re on the first scene tab on the left and that your 'Sandbox Tools' palette is showing.
0:51 If you’re not familiar with SketchUp’s 'Sandbox Tools', they are a default extension that provides some great terrain creation and manipulation tools.
1:00 And if they’re not already enabled, you can toggle them on or off in the ‘Extension Manager’.
1:05 Once enabled, you can open the toolbar icons or find them under ‘Tools/Sandbox’.
1:12 Once enabled, you can open the toolbar icons or find them under ‘Tools/Sandbox’.
1:12 The first icon is ‘From Contours’…but given that we won’t always have contours in our models, let’s hold on that one for a second and instead start with the second tool over, which creates a sandbox grid from scratch.
1:26 The first icon is ‘From Contours’…but given that we won’t always have contours in our models, let’s hold on that one for a second and instead start with the second tool over, which creates a sandbox grid from scratch.
1:26 Select the grid icon and then before clicking down to start the grid, notice the in the measurements box how it’s asking us for a grid size.
1:36 Select the grid icon and then before clicking down to start the grid, notice the in the measurements box how it’s asking us for a grid size.
1:36 The smaller the grid spacing the more detail we’ll have when creating our terrain from scratch.
1:41 Let’s use ‘5 feet’ for the grid spacing.
1:45 Then click a starting point and enter ‘100 feet’ for the length along the red axis and ‘50 feet’ for the length along the green axis and hit enter to finalize.
1:57 If we turn our hidden geometry on, we’ll see the that the grid squares are actually triangulated, which provides a bit more control when using the ‘Smoove’ tool in this next step.
2:08 If we turn our hidden geometry on, we’ll see the that the grid squares are actually triangulated, which provides a bit more control when using the ‘Smoove’ tool in this next step.
2:08 The ‘Smoove’ tool is the next one over on the right.
2:11 First, enter into the sandbox grid group and notice how we’re prompted for a radius.
2:17 This is the size of the are we’re going to push and pull along the grid surface.
2:23 Enter ’10 feet’ for the radius and notice how the red circle changes size.
2:28 Then click down anywhere on the grid and hold and drag up or down.
2:35 You can also select an area and then ‘Smoove’ again and now the 10’ radius is offset from the selection, allowing for a larger area to be manipulated at once.
2:49 If we find ourselves with sharp edges or too large of areas being pushed or pulled at once, we can add detail to any part of the terrain, thus allowing for more precision and control.
3:00 Select the part of the mesh you want to add detail to and then click the second to last icon in your 'Sandbox Tools' palette and watch as it doubles the number of vertices.
3:13 Unfortunately, there is no ‘remove detail’ tool so either undo or just add bits of detail at a time to ensure you’re only adding detail when and where you need it.
3:29 After we’re happy with the result we can just soften and smooth the whole thing to make a nice clean-looking terrain mesh.
3:44 The next Sandbox tool we’re going to explore is probably the one that’s used the most often.
3:48 It’s called ‘From Contours’….and just as its name implies, it creates meshes from contour lines.
3:55 Click on the next scene tab to the right...and here we’ll find two sets of contour lines already set up for us.
4:03 To make a terrain mesh from these contours, just select all of them and click the ‘From Contours’ icon...and watch as it automatically generates a mesh as a separate group.
4:18 The mesh also interpolates between the ending contours to close the gap.
4:25 Oftentimes we won’t want that extra mesh and will need to erase it to ensure our mesh matches our contour lines.
4:32 To do this, double-click into your terrain mesh and turn on your hidden geometry.
4:39 I have a keyboard shortcut for this as I am constantly turning on and off my hidden geometry.
4:45 Then we can see the extra triangles that were created that we need to erase.
4:51 Just select…delete…and that’s it.
4:59 Another way to accomplish this task is to explode the terrain mesh.
5:04 The mesh faces interesct with the contour lines and / or boundary edges…separating the surface into multiple parts.
5:12 Then just select the part of the mesh you don’t want…group it…then delete it.
5:20 Now click on the next scene tab over to do the next exercise using the ‘From Contours’ tool.
5:26 But this time we’re going to do it a bit differently given that we don’t actually have any contour lines here.
5:32 What we have instead is a concrete walkway on slope up against a wall.
5:38 What we have instead is a concrete walkway on slope up against a wall.
5:38 We need to create a terrain mesh that fills in the sloped space between the walk and wall.
5:44 To do this, we need to identify and select all the edges that create the bounding perimeter of our planting area slope.
5:52 Let’s start with the walkway edge given it’s already there and all we need to do is borrow certain edges from it.
5:60 Start by double-clicking into the walk group and selecting the three bounding edges.
6:07 Copy those and exit the group.
6:11 Then paste them in place and make them a new group.
6:16 Then double-click into this new edges group.
6:19 Note here that you may find it easier to hide the walkway group in order to see our just our bounding edges
6:26 Then complete the boundary by drawing a line from the top to the bottom corners.
6:34 Now that we have our boundary complete we can run ‘From Contours’ again to create the terrain mesh.
6:45 The result looks pretty good...although it would benefit from a bit of mounding or berming.
6:51 Let’s undo those last two steps and redraw the edges along the wall.
6:59 This time, use the arc tool to create a mound on the top side and a bit of a depression on the bottom.
7:07 Now run ‘From Contours’ again...
7:13 and then after we add a splash of color…
7:17 …we can see that the new slope looks even better than the previous.
7:23 The last two ’Sandbox Tools’ are ‘Stamp’ and ‘Drape’
7:27 Let’s look at ‘Stamp’ first which is a great tool for merging structures with terrain by creating a pad between the structure and the slope.
7:35 Start by clicking on the next scene tab over to the right where you should see a house floating above a hilly terrain.
7:43 Then select the house first, then select the ‘Stamp’ tool and notice that we’re prompted for an offset value...
7:53 …which is how much space we want to transition from the bottom of our structure to the slope.
7:58 Let’s enter ‘3 feet’ and then select the terrain mesh.
8:03 We can now move the pad grading up or down depending on what’s desired.
8:08 Let’s try moving it up a little so we’re splitting the difference between cut and fill.
8:15 Then left-click to finish the action.
8:19 Next we can move the house down so it sits on the pad.
8:24 Lastly, let’s enter terrain mesh group and select all...then soften to remove the pad transition edges.
8:39 Click on the next scene tab over to do a similar exercise using the ‘Drape’ tool.
8:45 Unlike ‘Stamp’, ‘Drape’ doesn’t modify the terrain mesh...instead it lays linework over the terrain surface.
8:53 Make sure that the 2D linework you want to drape onto your terrain is positioned directly above the terrain surface.
9:00 Then select the linework, face, or group and click the ‘Drape’ tool icon and then select the surface directly underneath.
9:10 The edges are now part of that terrain group.
9:13 If we double-click to enter the terrain group, we can select the edges.
9:17 Just a note that when draping either complex linework or linework onto complex terrain meshes...
9:25 ...it may not create a closed face on a terrain and therefore cannot be selected or colored separately from the terrain itself.
9:32 Which is why we’re going to learn the ‘Intersect with model’ method in addition to Drape.
9:38 Let’s take that same pathway group and instead of draping it, this time extrude it so that it goes all the way through both the top and bottom of the terrain mesh.
9:50 Then copy the extruded path and delete it.
9:57 Then go into the terrain group and paste the extruded path in place.
10:05 Then select both the path and terrain mesh and right-click…selecting ‘Intersect Faces’…and then ‘with selection’.
10:18 Now we can hide the extruded path group if we think we might need the later or just delete it.
10:25 And here we can now see the path surface is now separated from the terrain mesh.
10:31 Let’s wrap up this exercise by applying some color to the path to differentiated it from the slope.
10:38 And that’s it for native SketchUp grading and terrain tools.