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Terrain & Grading Extensions Exercise

2.2_Grading & Terrain Extensions Exercise2

0:00 Let’s continue where we left off in the previous lesson by staying in the same grading and terrain exercise file.

0:08 Here you can see, like previously when exploring the Sandbox Tools, there are several more scene tabs to the right of where we left off.

0:17 Let’s click on the next one over and start with an overview of a fairly simple, but very powerful paid extension called ‘Artisan’.

0:25 Like ‘Sandbox Tools’, ‘Artisan’ can create terrain grids from scratch than can be sculpted similar to the way the Sandbox ‘Smoove’ tool works.

0:34 It also has subdivision, smoothing and vertex tools which allow for the creation of some really cool and complex-looking organic shapes.

0:42 Let’s now take a few minutes to demonstrate some of the features that help with the creation and manipulation of terrain.

0:50 Make sure your 'Artisan' tool palette is showing then select the rectangular face you see here...

0:55 ...then click the second icon down to subdivide the face into smaller triangles.

1:00 Let’s do that three or four more times together in order to increase the level of detail and geometry we’ll need for our terrain.

1:09 Then select the icon with the red arrow, which is the ‘Sculpt’ brush.

1:14 Like ‘Smoove’, the 'Sculpt' brush allows us to push and pull the subdivided mesh in order to form mounds and slopes.

1:20 With the whole mesh selected, click the ‘Sculpt’ tool and set a radius for the brush... ‘20 feet’ should work well for this example.

1:29 Next, before sculpting, you have to set the direction of the sculpt, either up or down, and the strength of it.

1:38 Click the up arrow key on your keyboard and watch as the arrow gets taller.

1:42 A long arrow will do a large pull or sculpt, while a short arrow does a small, subtle pull.

1:52 If we do the opposite and use the down arrow keys, we can now sculpt depressions or flatten out our hills a bit.

1:59 Just a note that the ‘up and down’ arrows are relative to front and back faces…so if your faces are reversed, clicking the down arrow key will sculpt up.

2:09 If this is the case, then just reverse your faces and try again.

2:14 The nice thing about this tool is that it’s super fast to create organic terrain forms.

2:19 As you can see you can click just once and hold to continue to sculpt in the same direction, with the same strength and size.

2:28 'Artisan' has a bunch of other great features as well – like a paint brush which can speed up the application of different materials on a single terrain surface.

2:39 In addition to painting, there’s s selection brush which makes it easy to select...and then group or edit different parts of the terrain surface without having to turn on hidden geometry.

2:54 To wrap up our Artisan review, let’s apply the ‘Subdivide and Smooth’ process to an object instead of a mesh.

3:02 Next to our terrain is an angular rock feature that would benefit from looking more organic and smooth.

3:08 We can do that by entering into the group again but this time, selecting everything except the very bottom edges which we want to keep as they are…

3:18 Then use the ‘Subdivide and Smooth’ tool again.

3:21 This time let’s try 2 iterations by typing ‘2’ and hitting enter to preview…

3:29 ...then enter again to finalize. This looks kind of cool. Now we can apply a rocky texture to it and it’s ready to go.

3:42 Click on the next scene tab over in order to move onto our next extension review which is called ‘Soap Skin Bubble’

3:50 Don’t let the strange name fool you, this extension is actually super simple to use and very powerful for creating complex organic shapes.

3:58 For this demo, we’re going to use it to create the same landscape mound that we did previously using the ‘From Contours’ tool.

4:05 Let’s start by selecting the same planting area boundary edges as before, but this time, click the ‘Skin’ icon in the extension’s tool palette...

4:14 ...adn you'll see It’s prompts us for the number of net divisions

4:19 So let’s start with a high number for this example given it’s a small area so we'll enter ‘50’ divisions and hit enter to preview the new mesh grid.

4:29 If that’s too much, we can change the number before finalizing it. Let's try ‘35’ and hit enter again to see the grid density update.

4:40 Once we’re happy with this grid spacing, just hit enter again to lock it in.

4:47 With the new mesh group selected, let’s click on the 3rd icon down called ‘Bubble’.

4:53 It’s asking us this time to enter a number for the amount of pressure we want to apply to the mesh.

4:58 Pressure in this case is like air pressure for blowing up a balloon or bubble, hence the name.

5:05 Let’s try the same number we used for divisions: ‘35’ and hit enter.

5:10 This actually looks pretty good...but just for fun, let’s try changing it to a higher number like ‘100’ and hit enter again.

5:20 That might be too big of a big berm for our needs.

5:23 So now how about a much smaller number like ‘20’ – which, as you can see, look a lot more realistic.

5:30 Feel free to try different inputs to see the effect each has.

5:35 Another tip is to enter a negative number and the bubble inverts to create a swale instead of a mound.

5:44 Lastly, once happy with the pressure result, hit enter to end the command and enter into the group and soften the mesh in order to hide the grid lines.

5:55 Also, the same thing applies to faces that are reversed.

5:60 You may have to invert your pressure number from positive to negative if faces are reversed…

6:06 …or just take the time to reverse the faces first so they’re all front faces and then you can use positive pressure numbers only.

6:17 The next extension on our tour here is ‘Joint Push Pull’ by Fredo6.

6:22 Joint Push Pull’ allows for the pushing and pulling of non-coplaner surfaces.

6:28 If we wanted to give a sloped surface a thickness, this is a great way to do that.

6:33 Select the next scene tab over and notice that we’re starting with the same curved walk that was in the previous demo.

6:40 Then click to enter the walk group and select the sloped walk face and go to Tools and look for either ‘Fredo Tools’ or ‘Fredo Collection’ depending on your specific install…

6:53 …and then find ‘Joint Push Pull’.

6:56 Then click on the walk face and move down and a preview should appear showing the extrusion of the walk.

7:04 Type ‘3 inches’ and hit enter. Then click down outside of the geometry to finalize the command.

7:12 We now how a concrete walk with a thickness.

7:16 The reason for doing this step is really so that we can take the planting berm created previously with ‘Soap Skin Bubble’ and drop it down below the edge of the walk.

7:25 This reflects the actual designed and built condition where the soil level has to be lower than the concrete walk for drainage, mulch, etc.

7:33 It also adds a subtle, but important level of detail the model as the difference in height will cast shadows and make the design look and feel more realistic and accurate.

7:43 Obviously if you’re working on a large site like a masterplan this level of detail is overkill but for our little park or say, a residential project, it makes a big difference so it’s good to learn how to do it either way.

7:56 Another cool feature that ‘Joint Push Pull’ can do is extruding several faces at once.

8:04 Let’s say we need to extrude a bunch of seatwalls from the rectangles that you see here and we don’t want to do them one at a time.

8:12 So we can select them all of them...then launch ‘Joint Push Pull’ again…pull them up to ‘2 feet’ and hit enter.

8:22 And as you can see, this shortcut can be a huge time saver compared to extruding each one up manually.

8:30 Let’s do one more quick ‘Joint Push Pull’ demo before moving on to the next extension.

8:36 Here we have the same house as before that we draped and then intersected the walk onto the slope.

8:42 Let’s now add a depression to the walk as if it were cut out of the slope.

8:46 This time, after selecting the path surface, choose ‘Vector Push Pull’ from the menu dropdown instead.

8:54 What this does differently than 'Joint Push Pull' is that it locks the extrusion to the z or blue axis so that it drops straight down, instead of perpendicular to the direction of the slope.

9:06 This is handy for making curbs or roads as there is a noticeable 6 inch difference in height between road and sidewalk.

9:15 Let’s next click the next scene tab to review our last two terrain extensions.

9:20 It’s also helful to show contours in 2D say if you’re exporting your SketchUp model in plan view and therefore can’t see what’s high or low anymore.

9:30 This is super handy for making modifications in 3D and then sending the contours to an engineer or contractor to show in their plans.

9:41 So here we have a simple slope that was sculpted with ‘Artisan’.

9:46 Select it and then choose ‘Contours’ from the Extensions dropdown menu...we’re prompted for the contour interval.

9:54 If you have a small site than one foot contours are good.

9:58 But if you have a larger terrain, then a larger contour interval may be needed both for aesthetic reasons to show more space between contour lines...

10:06 ...and to keep the model running efficiently as more contours means more geometry in the model.

10:12 So let’s use ‘2 feet’ for this demo and then hit enter.

10:16 And there they are. Notice that the contour lines are also automatically grouped and assigned to a new layer by default.

10:24 Which then you can just change the name to whatever you prefer.

10:30 Depending on how detailed your terrain mesh is, your contours may be made up of many small segments, thus adding a lot more geometry to your model than is necessary.

10:39 So the last handy extension that I want to cover is called ‘Simplify Contours’ by the SketchUp team.

10:45 Click on the next scene tab to see two sets of contours already provided.

10:50 The top set has had ‘Simplify Contours’ run on it and as you can see, has less than half the number of edges without losing any detail when compared to the original contour lines.

11:02 Let’s now do this again together.

11:04 Select the edges themselves...

11:08 ...and then go to the extensions dropdown...and select for ‘Simplify Contours’.

11:15 It prompts us for the simplify angle.

11:18 A higher number here reduces more edges while a lower reduces less.

11:23 Let’s leave it at the default 10 degrees and hit ‘OK’.

11:26 If you’re wondering how you can check the geometry of a group or component in your model, like these contour lines…

11:34 …then you can enter into the group or component and select everything and check the ‘Entity Info’ box to see the edge count.

11:43 The other way to do it is to make sure what you want to check is a component and then find the component in your ‘Components’ browser.

11:52 Then click ‘Statistics’ and make sure that the ‘Expand’ box is checked. This will show nested geometry and face and edge count.

12:03 So that’s it for terrain and grading extensions.

12:06 Obviously, there are many more extensions that do can do similar things to what we covered as well as other extensions that different things that we didn’t cover…

12:14 …but these are some of the essential ones that should be plenty to get you started.