Digital Design: The Best SketchUp Tips I've Learned So Far


While being able to draw is essential, so is being able to utilize the digital tools readily available to us. Most firms use AutoCAD, ArchiCAD, Revit, SketchUp, Enscape, and Rhino with SketchUp being the most commonly used program across the board. During a 3-month quarter break, I decided to dive deeper into SketchUp, dedicating at least an hour per day 5 days a week to this beast of a program. Now with SketchUp being offered on the iPad, there's more practice than ever to be had, which also means there are more opportunities to learn. I thought it would be a great time to give a few tips on what I learned and how I applied them to real-life projects.


I thought it would be a great time to give a few tips on what I learned so far and how I applied them to real-life projects.


Tip #1 - Group or Component Everything


When using SketchUp, the first thing you want to do after creating your first shape and saving it to group every single thing. Either group it or make it a component. I thought it was a joke and while I got away with it in an instance or two, on a large-scale project, those mistakes will be glaring! Especially if you're working within a team, the moment something isn't grouped, it will destroy the entire design, and depending on how far down the line the project is, this could be a learning lesson to never make this mistake again.


Tip #2 - Practice. Practice. Practice.


To mitigate errors as much as possible, practice makes progress. Fortunately, there are a whole bunch of free courses you can take on SketchUp Campus to help you get better at your craft. I personally enjoyed the two basics courses, the landscape course, and the layout courses. Obviously, these may not be what you're looking for but there are more courses offered. The best thing is that these courses were not time-consuming at all and most of them were easy to follow and model along with.


"Model organization is so important and it starts with parsing out your model into Groups and Components." – Tammy Cody

Tip #3 - Take Online Courses


Like tip #2, enroll in some online courses. Instagram is a great source to find where new or interesting classes may be offered. I attended a virtual conference hosted by Guz and Tammy Cody and it was super informative. They provided insight I would have never gotten and didn't receive in my SketchUp class. The result was me finding new ways and new resources in the SketchUp 3D Warehouse that none of my classmates were privy to which led to a great final model.


A favorite of mine: SketchUp for Interior Designers


Tip #4 - Learn Shortcut Keys


As with any digital software, learning the shortcut keys is a helpful tool. The less you have to look away from your model, the better. Everything feels fluid once the keyboard shortcuts are memorized. While creating a digital model for a family member to show what their remodel could be like, I was able to build a quick model in 10 minutes or so, and knowing the keyboard shortcuts allowed me to efficiently design without having to slow down and find the tool on the menu.


Tip #5 - Extensions


This last tip is one I wish I had learned sooner. Find great extensions to add to your repertoire. While SketchUp is amazing, it doesn't have everything and there are some super talented people out there looking to make it better. Extensions can help you create curved surfaces, change colors across the board at once, and change materials, along with a lot of other tools to assist you in becoming more efficient and aiding your creativity.

Favorites of mine: Edge Tools, Eneroth Flatten to Plane, Material Replacer, and Soap Skin & Bubble


Learning digital programs is essential to our success as architects and interior designers. SketchUp also has a YouTube channel that has lessons as short as 3 minutes! A great place to start would be on social media @SketchUp_Official and @SketchUpforinteriordesigners. Don't be afraid to dive into some quick crash courses!


Join me on my journey as well @noirandneutralsstudio on Instagram. With love, see y'all next time!


Are you an interior design or architecture student? Are you a design professional? Have something to add? Let's connect!

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