Basic Sketchup Drawing Commands

This post provides a list of basic commands, commonly used while working with Sketchup. A brief commentary is also provided for each command. Regarding the commands, I will be using the keyboard key shortcuts, for the commands. I prefer to activate the various commands shown, using the keyboard key shortcuts. However, if you are not so inclined, you can use the command icons, across the top of the Sketchup screen, shown on the menu bar. If you do not know what command a particular icon represents, just place the mouse cursor on the icon in question, and the command name will pop up on the screen.

Mouse Cursor
Regarding Sketchup commands and the mouse cursor, as you select a command using the keyboard key shortcuts, the mouse cursor icon will change to a unique icon for the command your using. For example, for the “Line” command, the mouse cursor changes to a pencil, and so on for all commands.
Regarding the mouse cursor icon changing to a unique icon for each command, this applies whether you use the keyboard key shortcuts, or the commands from the menu bar across the top of the Sketchup screen.

Select Command

  • The “Space bar” is the keyboard key shortcut.
  • When you hit the “Space bar”, the mouse cursor changes to an arrow type icon, and this indicates that the mouse cursor is in the “Select” command mode. In the “Select” mode, you can for example left click on a line, to select it. The lines, etc that you draw are “black”, and when you select a line, etc — the selected item is turned “blue” (To indicate it has been selected). Plan to explain why & how this command is used with other commands (Not discussed, in this post), in a future post.
  • To deselect a selected item (Lines, etc turned “Blue”), hit the “Space bar” to activate the “Select” command, and click the left mouse button in empty space on your screen. The selected item will be deselected, and the item will turn color from “Blue” to “Black”.
  • For right now, let me just say that I like using the “Select” command, between commands. A personal quirk, I just like seeing the arrow icon (For the “Select” command) on the screen, between the various commands.

Line Command

  • “L” is the keyboard key shortcut.
  • Hit the “L” key on the keyboard, and left click where you want the line to start. Now regarding line length, you have two options. You can move the mouse cursor to where you want the other end of the line, click the left mouse button, and then hit the “Esc” keyboard key. Or, your second option (The one, I like), move the mouse cursor in the direction you want the line drawn along, enter a numerical value (on the keyboard), for the length of the line, hit enter, and then hit the “Esc” key.
  • As a side note, the “Line” command is the default starting command, when you first start Sketchup.

Rectangle Command

  • “R” is the keyboard key shortcut.
  • Hit the “R” key on the keyboard, and left click where you want one corner to be. Now regarding sizing the “Rectangle”, you have two options. First option, you can move the mouse cursor, to where you want the opposite diagonal corner to be, and click the left mouse button a second time. Second option, move the mouse in the general direction of where you want the opposite corner, enter the numerical values (Separated by a comma), for two sides (An not parallel sides) of the rectangle, and hit enter.
  • Using the second option described above, the first numerical value entered will be parallel (Or somewhat parallel) to the “red” or “blue” axis, and the second numerical value (The number after the comma) will be parallel to the green axis. Interesting to note, that the second numerical value (The number after the comma) is always parallel to the “green” axis.
  • Another side note, the “red” & “green” axes form a horizontal plane, and the “blue” & “green” axes form a vertical plane.

Push / Pull Command

  • “P” is the keyboard key shortcut.
  • Hit the “P” key on the keyboard, place mouse cursor on object area to be converted from a two dimensional area, to a three dimensional area. When you place the mouse cursor over the area, you’ll see the area fill with blue dots over the entire area.
  • Next with the mouse cursor over the area, to be converted to a three dimensional object, click the left mouse button & move the mouse cursor, in the desired direction (Up or down). As you go thru the steps noted above, you’ll see the two dimensional area change to a three dimensional object.
  • To complete the Push / Pull process outlined in the steps above, you have two options. You can click the left mouse button, or you can enter a numerical value (Using the keyboard), for the length of the three dimensional object, and hit enter. I like to enter a numerical value.
  • As noted above, it’s this command that transforms your drawing, from a two dimensional idea to a three dimensional concept. To me, this command is the heart and soul, of Google Sketchup.

Circle Command

  • “C” is the keyboard key shortcut.
  • Hit the “C” key on the keyboard, move the circle to where you want it (Using the mouse cursor), and click the left mouse button. To next size the circle, you have two options. You can move the mouse cursor and click the left mouse button when you have the circle size you want, or you can enter a numerical value (Using the keyboard), for the radius of the circle and then hit enter.

Arc Command

  • “A” is the keyboard key shortcut.
  • Hit the “A” key on the keyboard, click the left mouse button on the two endpoints for your arc, and then move the mouse cursor up or down, to form the desired arc shape.
  • Regarding forming the arc shape noted above, you have two options. You can move the mouse cursor and click the left mouse button when you have the arc shape you want, or you can enter a numerical value (On the keyboard), for the height of the arc above an imaginary straight line drawn between the two endpoints of the arc and then hit enter.
  • There’s a nice feature associated with the arc mouse cursor icon. Looking at the arc icon, you’ll see a small arc, with three small circles on the arc. The three circles on the arc are located as follows: one at the left end, one at the center, and one at the right end. While drawing the arc, the small circle tat is “Red”, is the point that will entered when you click the left mouse button.

Eraser Command

  • “E” is the keyboard key shortcut.
  • First note that the erase command icon is an eraser, with a small square at one end of the eraser.
  • Hit the “E” key on the keyboard, and move the eraser icon by moving the mouse. Place the small square (On the eraser icon) on the line, circle, etc, that you wish to erase, and click the left mouse button. The item is now erased.

“Ctrl + A” Command

  • If you have been drawing, and for whatever reason, you want to erase everything on your Sketchup screen, this is your command. Just hit the “Ctrl” key and the “A” key at the same time, all drawn items will turn “Blue” (Indicating that they have been selected), and next hit the “Delete” key. All drawn items that were on the screen, will be deleted from the screen.
  • This command can also be used in conjunction with the “Move” command, to move everything on your screen. Do not see myself using this command combination much, but it is available (If you need it). Hit the “Ctrl” key and the “A” key at the same time, all drawn items will turn “Blue” (Indicating that they have been selected), next hit the “M” key, move the mouse cursor over what you want to move and click the left mouse button, move the mouse cursor to move what you have selected to move, when you have your selected item/s relocated as desired, click the left mouse button again. Your selected item/s have now been relocated.
  • When moving your selected item/s, using an endpoint on one of your selected items usually works out best. It makes for a good reference point, for the selected item/s.

Final Thoughts
The commands covered here are not all inclusive, but I think you’ll find yourself using them extensively. I know, I have.

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Until next time, take care
AL

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