Place Shapes Toolbar Extension for SketchUp

A toolbar for placing basic shapes (primitives)

Description

This extension adds a toolbar (and some menu items) that lets you easily place several common 3D shapes (geometric primitives) or any selected component. While SketchUp’s native toolset allows you to create any of these shapes without too much effort, using this toolbar permits quick “solids-based” modeling where you only work with added and subtracted primitives to end up with a perfectly watertight object that poses no problems for 3D printing, for example.

The toolbar is also a good starter shape set for beginners and kids that want to dabble in 3D modeling but have no interest (yet) in learning e.g. the intricacies of the follow-me tool. To be honest, I made this extension because our daughter wanted to “make a penguin” and I was too lazy to explain the follow-me tool…

Before placing shapes, you can pick a base unit: foot, inch, mm, cm, m.

Usage

The easiest way to work with this extension is to show the “Place Shapes” toolbar and click on the shape you want to place.

Alternatively use the Draw menu’s items. Most shapes will orient themselves based on the underlying geometry. You can also place multiple shapes – just go to the select tool (or hit the space bar or the Esc key) when you are done.

Once a shape has been placed, use the move and scale tools to work with it. If a shape doesn’t behave as you like, right-click on it and select “Unglue”. As you can see when placing any of the shapes, they all stick to the underlying geometry. You can also always explode a shape (using the right-click menu) to work with its raw geometry.

When you select a base unit from the dialog, all following placements will have that unit. Already placed items don’t scale. This allows you to model small stuff (e.g. for 3D printing) or large stuff (e.g. buildings).

As of version 1.4, you can also simply select an existing component in your model (e.g. a tree that you have already inserted) and place (copy) it multiple times. Note that the “grip” location on the object for this operation is determined by the component’s internal coordinate system.

Some tips

  • Turn on the X-ray face style (via the View menu) to enable snapping to hidden points.
  • Make hidden lines visible (View > Hidden Lines) to allow for more precise snapping.
  • These shapes work well with SketchUp Pro’s Solid Tools (intersect, union, subtract,…). All shapes are “solids” and if you work with only the shapes and the Solid Tools, then you will end up with a “solid” – perfect for 3D printing.
  • Use the 3D Text tool in SketchUp to add text to any of the shapes.

Did you find this extension useful? Contribute to its development with any amount (via PayPal):

Screenshots and Videos

Show Off Your Work

Did you create something amazing with this extension? I would love to see it! You can either upload an image in the comment section below (public) or privately send it to me.

Downloads

You can now find this plugin in Trimble’s Extension Warehouse. For an easy install (and update notifications), browse to it from inside SketchUp (2013 or newer) and install it directly.

Alternative downloads

Linked below are the installation files (RBZ and ZIP formats) for the current and some previous versions of this extension.

To install these files, follow the SketchUp folks’ instructions. You can also find this extension on GitHub.

Revision History

  • Version 1.4 (6/17/2020)
    – New functionality: Place selected component (multiple)
  • Version 1.3 (5/6/2020)
    – Help dialog fix (2020 GC issue)
  • Version 1.2 (7/21/2017):
    – Fixed loader code
    – Provided SVG/PDF icons for high res displays (SU > 2016)
    – Help window shows as HtmlDialog (SU > 2017)
  • Version 1.1 (2/16/2016):
    – Code cleanup
    – New icons
    – Added base unit picker, now items are scaled
    – Better component naming as a result
    – Removed metric base items
    – Added help menu item
  • Version 1.0 (2/2/2015):
    – First release

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