3-D road layout template import into Sketchup

I’m creating a fun 3-D city map. Normally they are hand drawn but want to do it in Sketchup. I have already laid out what I want for my roads in a 3-D look in Illustrator but now want to use that as a template to basically draw all the buildings and then export that to layover my original design. Is this possible in Sketchup? Here’s a link to my image:

Any advice helps. Thank you!


If you want to trace over this map within SketchUp you could do that by using the “Matched Photo” option, available on the import menu.

This allows you the ability to import a picture, and orient it’s perspective within SU’s modeling space… You’re basically aligning and setting the vanishing points to match what’s in the imported image.

BUT, the challenge you’ll have with this method is in trying to match the curvatures you’ve added into your illustration.

Photo Match is initially going to require that you draw in straight lines. Outside of photo match you’ll have the option to project onto a spherical ground plane if you wanted to.

you could also export from illustrator, and import directly into SU… Using a DXF file is one option. but there might be another format which is better suited to this particular file.

I think you’ll still have to contend with the curvature issue in this fashion as well, however. Because I suspect (???) that the curves will get interpreted as arcs on a flat plane—and not as ‘straight’ lines traversing a sphere.

As @JimD has said, I think you will run into a lot of problems if your source is the image you displayed. You will have a much easier time if you create an image that looks directly down in a parallel projection onto your map. Then you can import that image into SketchUp, trace the lines onto a rectangular plane (again in parallel projection so that you don’t get perspective distortion), and finally if you want the curved earth, drape the edges down onto a curved surface. When finished, you can play around with perspective camera and viewpoint to create a more realistic 3D view.

Thanks for the ideas. I’m also thinking certain sections are kind of on their own plane so I could break it down to smaller sections and work on each one from there. thanks again for your help!

Thanks for the points. That what I was kind of thinking. I’ve only dabbled in sketchup and I thought this might be an issue for me. I appreciate your thoughts.

If you have Illustrator, I’m guessing you also have Photoshop. . .

Maybe Photoshop’s Perspective Warp function can straighten out the line work for you… at least getting it ‘close enough’ so that you don’t need to do a complete redraw ???

btw, is this drawn as “warped” in illustrator? or did you use “3D” filter to get the effect?

Because if it was warped, you can probably get flat version without much problem by exporting as DWG, and working your way from SketchUp.

Good question. I actually hand drew the roads first so I could get the most of the area and highlight the important spots on the map. Then I placed it into illustrator and just followed the lines from the sketch. So It was built this way. And that would be my only issue with sketchup is that I kind of have to distort for my purposes. I was thinking I could do separate sections and then tie them in together in photoshop later. Not sure. I’m focusing on Illustrators 3-D capabilities at the moment but just got offered another project where I might utilize Sketchup. Can you tell me what the main difference between Make and Pro is? Thanks for your input.

The main differences are:

  • Solid tools on Pro;
  • Ability to edit dynamic components on Pro;
  • Layout (a kind of a basic illustrator where you import sketchup models into);
  • More import/export options like dwg/dxf

EDIT: Oh and the major one is that you can’t use Make version commercially.