Adding Terrain Data

I want to import terrain data into a model.

I know you can’t do this directly with SketchUp Free. Are there any workarounds? Can you get the data from elsewhere and import it?



What terrain data do you need?

You could import an image of the contours and trace them or you could use Add Location in SketchUp Pro.

Thanks DaveR,

I need to show the topography of a site.

I can’t use “Add Location” because I’m using SketchUp Free.

I’ll try importing an image of the contours and trace them as you suggest. Presumably I would then move each contour line up by the appropriate distance in order to get the correct heights in 3D.

How do I get a three-dimensional surface from these contour lines? As I understand it, in SketchUp Pro you can use the “From Contours” tool in the Sandbox to do this automatically. How do you do this in SketchUp Free?



Yes. You would move them up. You’ll likely need to invoke Auto-Fold with the Move tool and there may be some areas that will need some manual adjustment.

Yes, the Desktop versions of SketchUp have the Sandbox Tools which is designed for this sort of thing. The web-based versions don’t have that option because it is an extension. You’ll need to do a lot more manual modeling in SketchUp Free.

What is the terrain that you are working on?

Hi Mark,

As you’ve seen, we haven’t yet connected ‘Add Location’ in SketchUp for Web to a terrain data service. We have some projects in the works on this, but it’s likely this will be a paid capability. This capability used to be free, as part of our legacy from Google. But, because the service has a variable cost (the underlying data sources aren’t free) – and because of some privacy regulations – we could no longer offer it for free. We do hope improve location-based modeling in SketchUp for Web, but in the short-term the best way to go is desktop SketchUp.


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Thanks, DaveR. Now I know what I need to do. I don’t mind having to do more manual modelling, it’s good practice for me.

I work as a volunteer for a charity:

Bridge Wellness Gardens

I’m doing a model of the site to help with promotion.

Good to know, Mark, thanks.