Learning SketchUp: Playing With Blocks, Part One

When I first started using SketchUp, I made a fundamental error. I tried to draw, applying what I knew about hand drafting and CAD to a program designed for 3D modeling. It was slow and tedious and didn’t work very well. Eventually the light bulb went off over my head and I started pretending I was in the shop. As soon as I realized that I could make hunks of wood, copy them, stretch them, and change them all I wanted, my speed increased tremendously.

This is a common problem for SketchUp newcomers. A recent thread on a woodworking forum brought this to mind. Practice is essential to get the most out of SketchUp, but it is essential to practice things that will help. If you spend time practicing the wrong things you won’t get very far, and you’re likely to get frustrated. The reason we like using SketchUp for our design work is that it gets us out to the shop faster, and with an accurate bundle of information that makes our shop time better.

So here’s an exercise in the form of a challenge.
–Robert W. Lang

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6 thoughts on “Learning SketchUp: Playing With Blocks, Part One

  1. Bruce Beatty

    Aug 19 17:32. As long as you make the first block a componet and use the copy/multiple feature, Then select the row and do the same, a couple of guidelines and you should be well under the 5 minute mark. Anything in SU is fun :)

  2. Dan Bembower

    Here’s a fun alternative.
    Create the 9 by 9 base using the move array *8 method (leaving the original cube/line of cubes there.
    Once you have the base 9 by 9 layer, move/copy it up a level by hovering over the midpoints until they reference. Then, use the array *8 again. This will create a "leaning tower of Pisa" that is 9 x 9 x 9.

    From here, you can orient the view to look straight on at the side of the "leaning tower" and select the blocks you need to delete in order to reveal the pyramid shape. You will have to orient the view again 90 degrees to the right and repeat the process so that all you are left with is the pyramid.

    This is also good practice at selecting blocks.

  3. Miles Bintz

    I didn’t time myself, but I think I did it in under 5 minutes… Here’s how I did it:

    1. rectangle, dimensions w/ keyboard 4′,4′
    2. push/pull, height 4′
    3. select all (option/ctrl-a)
    4. move, array *9 along x
    5. select all, move, array *9, along y
    6. tape measure, add a guide at a midpoint of a cube along x
    7. tape measure, add a guide at a midpoint of a cube along y
    8. select all (this grabs the whole 10×10 base)
    9. move, array, *9 along x,y,z (setting bottom corner to the intersection of guide points)
    10. repeat until pyramid: orbit, select using leftward selection motion, delete

    keyboard shortcuts all the way.

  4. Jason

    hmmmmm? Grab the rectangle tool. Draw a box, enter 2×2. Push/pull, hit 2. Then select the box, grab the move tool, hit "option" move the new copy over, then type 9x. It makes a row of 9 cubes. Then select all, and do the same thing again 90 degrees the other direction. Now you have the first 9×9. Do the same thing with all 9 layers, and adjust how many you make for each layer.

    Can’t wait to hear your suggested method.

  5. Tony

    Make your first component cube then copy it up one row and offset it by referencing the midpoints of original cube’s top. Array copy that action and you now have one cube in each level of the pyramid. At each level array copy one dimension, then select those cubes and array copy along the other dimension. 2 minutes tops.

  6. T. D.

    Draw rectangle, type 2"x2" (or whatever), enter. Push/pull, type 2", enter. Copy/paste next to first block; copy/paste those two, etc. until you have a row. Copy/paste rows to create bottom layer. Copy all rows and delete one row/column (or copy all but one row/column), paste in place and repeat.

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