A very basic newbie question


This is a really basic question, but it has me baffled.
How does one draw in the front or side plane (what SketchUp call the red or green planes)?
I have the instructions for 'How to draw an inner tube", and I’m OK through #4, but in #5, where is says to move the cursor up the (vertical (blue) axis and it should turn green or red. It doesn’t. No matter what I do the program wants to draw in the horizontal plane.
I’m sure there is a simple solution, but I’m baffled.



Hi Bob,

See Gully’s description here:
How do I draw a rectangle or circle (or polygon) oriented vertically? — SketchUp Sage Site



Thanks for the response. I’ll see if I can figure it out.
It’s difficult for me to understand why the developers picked such a clunky method, rather than doing what real CAD programs do, which is simply to specify what plane one wants to draw in. Soooooo simple.



I don’t know how it could be any simpler, Bob.
Would you face towards the floor if you wanted to draw on the wall or ceiling?



The notion that you don’t have to set a working plane before drawing in SketchUp is one of the things that sets us apart from other CAD tools. Most of the time, SketchUp is pretty good about guessing where you intend to draw. Once you get the hang of SketchUp’s geometric inference, I think you’ll find it quite a bit faster than traditional CAD tools.



I totally agree with John. This is just one off the reasons why I work with SketchUp and not with an other cad program anymore. But it should be handy if there was a easy way to get the right direction when you start in a empty model.


To whatever plane you want to draw at, move the cursor in the direction parallel to the axis of that plane.
Also, try to use smaller scale.


One of the good things about SketchUp (once you realize it works this way) is that it is quite visually oriented. The better you can see what you’re trying to do, the easier it is for the software to figure out what you’re up to. Most of the things new users struggle with are really navigation problems.

Bob Lang


No, I view the object I’m working on in a trimetric or isometric view, where I can see all sides (or at least the ones I’m interested in), and then tell the computer which plane I want to draw in. What could be simpler than that? It’s the way the real CAD programs do it, and that has to carry some weight.


Well, no one has claimed that SketchUp is a CAD application…
I would say that the reason for that (like the display divided to four views) is that in the 1980’s and 1990’s you just couldn’t use a 3D view and interface to interactively model. The way you work (isometric views etc) is outdated. SketchUp is mainly designed to work in perspective, and other applications are following.



You seem to have gone from asking a “basic newbie question” to redesigning the program’s basic logic based on your outdated preconceptions. Really not a good approach to learning something new.

When you are as proficient at constructing geometry with SU as the people who have tried to help you, you will be in a position to make an informed judgment about how effective the interface is. Until then, you’re just talking through your hat.



Try repositioning the camera a little to better infer to the plane orientation you want.

Position the cursor over some existing geometry in the plane you want (draw a cube off to the side just for this if needed) and press and hold the Shift key. That will lock the direction of travel in that plane. While still pressing the Shift key, move the tool to the location you want and make the new geometry.

I also use a 3dconnexion navigator with my left hand to reposition the workspace while working with a SU tool with the right hand.


Hi Bob, hi folks.

Try using the Orbit tool to orient the view so that you see mostly a vertical plane, either the red/blue one or the green/blue one. Then, circles and rectangles will have a tendency to be drawn vertically instead of horizontally on the red/green plane.

Keep in mind that SketchUp allows you to orbit, pan, zoom, change scenes, change rendering modes, etc. even in the middle of any drawing, scaling, moving, rotating, etc. operation.

This is a very powerful capability that goes beyond any CAD program that i have seen.

Practice that and you will discover how efficient is this p^rogram.

Just ideas.



Hi Bob,

The notion of modeling from a fixed point of view is contrary to the way humans build things in the real world.

Watch any craftsman at work and you’ll notice they move about, rather than stand in one place with head still and eyes fixed.
Watch any experienced modeler at work in SU and you’ll observe the same; their camera is rarely still for long.

Navigation in SU quickly becomes as natural and effortless as looking across the room.
That ability to freely move about while modeling is what sets SketchUp apart and above the rest.
In fact, the SU modeling environment relates to human nature so well that there’s an interesting phenomenon which occurs to many users after a long modeling session.

That is we’re known to become so acclimated to working in SU’s real-time 3D environment that we instinctively attempt orbiting to get a better look at things in other applications.
It’s then you realize just how cumbersome and un-real other applications really are.


Make all input shortcuts customizable

I have realized, from this post and others above, that the key to doing what I want to do it is to start by drawing a small cube, which then gives me the various planes I want to draw on. Very different from what I am used to, but I suppose I’ll get used to it. We humans are adaptable creatures!
I have printed out all your comments, and I do appreciate your help.

Many thanks,



I have been using Rhino 5 and Autodesk before Sketch Up and I like the way it allows me to operate in it over the two mentioned. Adjusting your camera position like was mentioned may help you. But as was also mentioned this is not CAD or Nurbs but working geometry. Also try hiding model parts by selecting and a right click. You can still work on fronts or back side while maintaining the iso-view.


Use of the Hide command to control visibility while modeling often leads to confusion.
Best to use it sparingly and only in the topmost modeling context. Here’s why.

Edit > Unhide > All … Works only upon entities hidden within the current modeling context.
Edit > Unhide > Last … Works globally just once.
After that, the Unhide command is context sensitive.
Consequently, un-hiding entities hidden within groups requires re-enter their editing context to Unhide.
There are far less cumbersome ways to gain visibility while modeling.

Best practice is to build logically grouped geometry. The finished model is an assembly of those groups.
Control of visibility while editing a group then becomes a simple matter of toggling two powerful commands.
Experienced modelers tend to setup keyboard shorts for these.
• View > Component Edit > Hide Rest of Model
• View > Component Edit > Hide Similar Components

Section Planes are another way to gain a view of what you need to see.



Thanks Geo, that is extremely helpful, especially to someone new to sketch up.


Bob, next time please make the question more specific. How should readers decide whether they might be able to help answer, “A very basic newbie question” without reading the question? The point of having a title for each question is to provide a filter for readers.