Sketchup Shorts #3: Going to the Lumberyard - Virtually

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Blog entry by PurpLev posted 03-09-2009 10:47 PM 9458 reads 4 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Outliner - Component Selection - Anywhere, Anytime Part 3 of Sketchup Shorts series Part 4: Virtual Materials II - Tiling it Seamlessly »

so you wanted to use specific materials in your Sketchup project? exotic/local lumber? metals? leather? other?

I saw this subject raised in one of DaveR’s latest blogs, and it’s a fairly simple thing to do in Sketchup. You can use any material you so desire in sketchup, but first, we need to ‘make’ that material.

Creating new Materials in Sketchup (Using live materials as source)

1. get your material ‘source’ – this can be any photo – either from your digital camera, or do an online search for your desired material and look for a photo that resembles what you want it to look like, in this example, I’ve googled ‘birdseye maple’:
google search for birdseye maple

I copied the one that I liked (I dragged it to my desktop, but you could also right(ctrl for mac)-click and do “save as”) to my desktop. and then opened Sketchup.

In Sketchup I made a simple box for this example, and opened the paint palette window (paint bucket tool). I then selected my wood folder (or any other folder you might want to place your material into for organization purposes) and selected color->new Texture:

Making New Texture

A window will open asking you for the source image/photo for this new material:

new Source

simply browse and select the material photo you’ve downloaded to your desktop.

Sketchup will ask you to confirm/modify the size of the new texture – you could leave this as is, or modify it and resize it as you see fit (experience will tell you what and how you’d want to modify this) and also prompt you for the name of the material – in this case, I’ll call it Birdseye Maple … seems so fit.

you can now select a face, and use the new material to paint it with:

birdseye maple face

As Simple As That.

PS you can also reposition the texture after you’ve applied it to a face/geometry, and resize it per face.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

8 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8648 posts in 4662 days

#1 posted 03-09-2009 11:23 PM

it actually scales up with the piece. from my experience, this is how the rest of (default) materials behave…

I rarely use materials- I mostly use sketchup for roughing up and detailing dimensions and joinery my woodworking models are usually left unpainted (unfinished if you would). I do however paint models that I want to present to someone else, or models that are published.

out of curiosity – what do your materials look like when you scale the box?

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View PurpLev's profile


8648 posts in 4662 days

#2 posted 03-09-2009 11:43 PM

I see your point, in this case, depending on the source image there might be some tile-effect to it, in this example, I did choose a source image that was somewhat clean and wouldn’t show much of the tile-effect when spread around a face that is larger than the original source image (I guess It’s a habit) but it would need some touchups in photoshop to make it tile-proof – but that is another tutorial for another time I guess :) but it is a good point.

here is the material spread across an large area – you can see the tile effect even though in this case its minimized:
tiled surface

and here it is slightly cleaned up:
tiled surface

but it still shows the repetition. do you birdseye maple material that presents a cleaner appearance? (you can always play with the scaling of the material, and positioning to get a better looking result)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2545 posts in 4971 days

#3 posted 03-10-2009 03:10 AM

Ya tiling drives me crazy! You can find the nicest texture and then by the time you get it applied scaled and looking close to how you want it it looks fake because of tiling. Allot of the guys on the Podium forum are real good with photo shop and they make all their own seamless textures. I have read a few tutorials on how to apply a texture to a large surface and then make the seams go away but I’m not that handy with photo shop!


View PurpLev's profile


8648 posts in 4662 days

#4 posted 03-10-2009 03:30 PM

Thanks Dave, you just saved me a bunch-load of money on exotic lumber that I was going to shell out for… ;o)

it is true though about distinctive grain materials – the more distinctive the pattern in , the harder it is to hide the seams. in this case, it is much like woodworking – you have to custom make the materials for specific parts for best results, use a larger source image with more detail to cover a larger area, prepare custom made images in photoshop for each piece you work on etc. this is much like working in Maya for animation where (almost) every component uses a custom material with custom-made projected images (both for colors, patterns, and alpha channels – thats a ton of source images for materials for every project, but it pays off).

the original post was though to introduce people to the simple fact that it’s possible, and quite easy to use your very own materials that you can create in a few seconds – some will be seamless, some can be made seamless, and others – well, it is SKETCH up after all. we’re not trying to create a perfect world (we are , but for sake of argument lets say we’re not)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4888 days

#5 posted 03-11-2009 08:59 PM

Thanks, this is helpful.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Greg Smith's profile

Greg Smith

8 posts in 3692 days

#6 posted 01-25-2011 05:13 AM

Oh information technology era is making the task so simple for not only the professional, but the home handyman. Great article.

-- Greg Smith -

View webbizideas's profile


6 posts in 3557 days

#7 posted 06-16-2011 03:11 AM

This is so handy. Gives that realistic edge to any project that you’re working on.

-- Jim -

View BrianLuntz's profile


11 posts in 3682 days

#8 posted 07-11-2011 11:16 AM

I have been reading this site for oer eighteen months and I never tire or find it difficult to locate topic of choice. This is simply the best site available to the DIY and professional.

-- Brian -

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