Can Use Some Advice for my 1st Project! This roof is so hard!

Hello! I am extremely new here and a very new SketchUp learner. Only about a month so far and I just love it. I am dreaming about geometry! I am not sure if this is the right category to post my question but figured one of you guys could help me.

I am trying to create a replica of my father’s house with the ultimate goal of importing it into UE4 where I will create the scene of the lake terrain and mountains behind. Not for any other purpose than what a better way to learn all these skills and hopes of being involved in some form of game or virtual reality project in the future. As a female in my 40’s I am not sure how I fit into this community?

I picked my father’s house as I can visualize it very well and thought it would be a good start! All I have are images of the blueprints (very bad ones) and one measurement that I could make out for the overall length of the building which I am using to reference as best I can. I realize this won’t be to scale.

From what I understand, for the kind of texturing I want to add it would be easier to use Maya or ZBrush to apply the textures and bump maps and create the UV’s. Many people seem to use 3dx max as it is apparently similar and has an uploader to UE4 which would save a step however I just really enjoyed learning SketchUp and feel that it would be such a great tool for creating modular components as well and a skill that I can use in different ways and worth the extra import. Unless I can do all of this with SketchUp and just don’t know that yet! lol

I am struggling with the roof. In particular I don’t know how to close the gap between the two levels. Is this done with the roof layer or the outside wall layer? In the actual house picture it looks like the outside walls continue in, but when I created the roof I found a way to close it up by bringing it down. I am so confused! Any advice would be so appreciated.

Also - if you see anything else that I am doing horribly wrong it would be so helpful. I am learning this alone in the universe right now so any feedback, advice or direction would be so welcomed! Here is a link to download my sketchup file if you think that would help:

Thanks in advance for any input!

Lee :slight_smile:

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This looks to be an interesting project to model. You should be able to upload your skp file by clicking the upward pointing arrow with the bar below it (7th icon from the left at the top of the reply box). The screenshot suggests that your model should be small enough to send via this Forum (< or = to 3 mb). If the skp file size exceeds 3 mb, you can upload to a file sharing service such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Box or any of the numerous similar services (many are available at no cost) and post the url so that other users can find your file.

It is 3.7 mb so I uploaded it to dropbox, here is the link:
thanks for the suggestion!

House and landscape looks gorgeous! Your father can adopt me. :upside_down_face:

You’re correct, those softwares have much more advanced features than SketchUp can offer regarding textures & UVs.
However there are some plugins that might be useful in SketchUp.
Check this plugin for UVs: SketchUV. There are videos and user guides showing how to use it. There is also Wrap-r ($).

Note that: When you apply any texture to a face in SketchUp, then that face is assigned a UV map automatically. This information will be useful when you are importing to UE4 for lightmaps calculation (second UV map will be generated by UE4 for this based on first UV map).

Also note that UE4 will accept .fbx file format that SketchUp Pro version can export. Since you don’t have it, best option would be to export your model as .obj or .dae, then use Blender software to convert it to .fbx. (Blender is a free software equivalent of 3Ds Max and it’s powerful. Did i mention it is FREE!) I must also emphasise that Blender has advanced texture & UV map features as well. So you can handle UV maps of ‘complex’ objects (irregular shaped) with it.

Yes, wall should be continuing to the top. You can draw a triangle connecting the wall edges and push it inside to give the wall thickness.

Thanks Emir! Great information. I will check out SketchUV but it sounds like I need to upgrade to the pro, even though I am far from one! The free version doesn’t let you export obj. I did find a plugin but it doesn’t work with 2016 only 2014 so that was a bummer.

I drew the roof the first time on my own then tried again using a roof plugin. The plugin automatically created a wall in-between the two different heights but it was just a face not 3d. It really confused me and made me think that maybe it was supposed to come from the top, but it just didn’t seem right as why would that wall be roof material. If the wall comes up from the outside walls, does that also go into the inside or do I have to create a separate inside wall to fill in the gap. I don’t know why this is so confusing for me, I just can’t seem to wrap my brain around it. I am trying to set it all up properly with layers and make it easy for texturing. I don’t want to be texturing an outside wall inside the house. Or does it really matter… each surface can be textured to whatever it needs to be regardless of what layer it is on. Maybe I am just overthinking it and it doesn’t really matter in the end.

Thanks again for taking the time to help me figure this out. I am really enjoying learning SketchUp, I can’t believe how much I have learned in such a short time!

Lee :slight_smile:

I think I figured it out. Gosh three days on a roof! The top floor was so hard for me to figure it out. Although if I did it again it wouldn’t take me this long the next time. Thanks for your help I can move on to the next phase now!


It’s looking good and cleanly drawn, with the different geometric elements separated properly into Groups. Using Groups or Components keeps the geometry from tangling together, and that’s good.

However, you have made one of the common errors that new users of SU do, and assigned Layers to your raw geometry (edges and, faces inside the groups). That will cause problems further down the line.

ALWAYS, ALWAYS, leave Layer0 as the Active Layer in the Layers window - its radio button should always stay checked like this, as you have it at the moment in the model you uploaded :

To fix this, either use the plugin Put on Layer, or since the model is still quite small and simple, just open each group in turn for editing, Select All (edges and faces) either by triple clicking on any part of it, or using the shortcut Option+a (you are using Mac according to your profile*), then in the Entity Info window, put them all on Layer0.

In future, to control the visibility of different parts of the model, assign layers other than Layer0 ONLY to Components or Groups, preferably at the ‘top level’ in the component or group hierarchy of your model.

The only other suggestion I have is to use Components instead of Groups for the different elements in your model, and give them meaningful names. As your model grows more detailed, that makes it easier to see what is in the model, and to understand the structure and relationship between components and subcomponents or groups and subgroups, using the Outliner window.

  • [A side issue - click on the Apple icon on your Mac, and then on About this Mac, then fill in the details of your graphics card and the Mac OS version in your profile. ’ Mac newest OS’ could mean several things at the moment - the latest one you got with your mac when you bought it, the current mainstream Sierra, or the very latest High Sierra.]

PS. If you haven’t already read them, see the following Help articles. on creating Basic Components on Grouping geometry on using Layers


This is extremely helpful John, thanks so much! Gosh I really missed the mark with the layers. Can I pick your brain a bit further?

If I triple click on the group to select all and change the layer to layer0 via the Entity Info how will I know that I did this correctly? Everything just looks the same and I don’t know how to verify I did it right before doing the rest.

I also had issues with the groups, sometimes I would find a line that wasn’t showing because it was stuck in another group - or maybe it was stuck in another layer? See, I am still getting confused… even if I would select all connected it still wouldn’t select the missing line. Is that a layer or a group problem?

Thanks again for taking the time to open my file and check it out. I REALLY appreciate it!


p.s. I updated my profile with all the details.

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Actually upon further reflection I think I got it. You don’t have to answer my last question!

Just to make sure I got it, so all the edges and faces go on Layer0, and you are always building on the same layer0. What I am struggling with, is what advantages does it have to have all the pieces on the same layer? I thought if I click on the layer that I am working on and added items they will automatically go in there, but what you are saying is that the items get created first and then only assign them to layers after a group or component has been made. Actually I do see the advantages in that as a few times I added to a layer and forgot to activate it and had to move it after.

Gosh, so brainwashed with Photoshop and Adobe Suite layers… this is totally different!

you can switch to ‘Color by Layer’ as quick check of assignment…


It’s not the items themselves that you assign to a layer (they stay on Layer0), but the group or component of which they form the geometry.

And when you change the layer of existing geometry inside a group to Layer0, you’ll see that all the selected items you have highlighted show ‘Layer0’ in Entity Info. If you select things (group, component, loose geometry or something else like Text or a Dimension, or a mixture of several), if they aren’t all on the same layer, Entity Info will show a blank for the Layer.

Most likely it wasn’t showing because it was in another layer - that’s the biggest problem with assigning layers to geometry - you get unexpected results when things don’t show up as you expect.

Layers ONLY control visibility in SU, they do NOT separate objects from each other.

Yes, it is, and is one of the things people familiar with those programs find hardest to adjust from, in SU. Indeed, there have been several extensive discussions on this forum and elsewhere about whether the name ‘Layers’ should be changed to something else less confusing, but it’s been that way for so long that changing it would ‘break’ a lot of things - help files, tutorial videos, plugins… to name a few.

Thanks for that. The only thing still missing is which version of SU Make? 2017?

Thank again John but I am still trying to wrap my brain around a few things. I do think naming it Layers is a bit misleading. Maybe ‘Categories’ or ‘Sections’ would be easier to understand for newbies. Basically you are adding groups/components to categories so that you can turn the view on and off.

When I took this tutorial on Lynda, the guy would activate each layer as he did it. I also pasted a screenshot below of his project (his is the green one).

As you can see in the picture below he activates the layers as he creates them. There must be some kind of advantage to doing it that way as there is that option in the layers box to do this. I do see the advantage of keeping all the geometry on the Layer0 as you don’t have to worry about activating the layer every time you work on it, but is that the only advantage and are there reasons why other people would suggest to do it differently? Or is it just a beginner vs expert scenario where as you become more advanced you activate the layers as you work on them?

Also, I am now really struggling with the dormers. In all the videos of Sketchup it looks so simple to create the shape and just add it into the roof however my dormer has to be cut into the roof and the walls. It has taken me way too long to figure this out, there must be an easier way! I must be approaching it wrong.

Thanks again for helping me wrap my brain around the layers and any insight or guidance on these dormers would be so appreciated… I just know I did it wrong.

Lee :slight_smile:

p.s. here is the newest .skp file: and a screenshot of my discontent…

One of the easier ways to make the dormer would be to use Intersect Faces on the Edit menu.

Basically, you draw the cross section of the end of the dormer, and push pull it to project well inside the roof plane. Make it into a component.

Then make a copy of the roof plane as a loose face, cut it to the clipboard, open the component for editing, then paste the roof face in place.

Run Intersect Faces with context, and that will create edges where the dormer meets the roof plane. Then use a crossing select to delete all the bits inside the roof, and delete the copied roof plane itself.

That’s easier to write than to do, though, and it took me a good while to work out how to get the plane, the geometry you want to modify, and the result all in the same context.

Here’s the first tutorial I found with a google search for Sketchup Intersect Faces. Hope it helps.

And here’s another:

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I’d like to make a personal recommendation about the paragraph under the title Intersect Faces and the Eraser tool go hand in hand. from the link @john_mcclenahan shared (a very interesting one).

My recommendation is you to make regularly backups of your model, specialy when you’re going to make big changes.

One more thing, a common mistake the one I still make is that if you select an edge or a face and you delete it, there is no problem, if you use the eraser tool there should not be any problem either always you use it carefully. But if you make a selection, the selection also affects to the parts of the model that are behind the face you’re watching, so if you delete a selection make sure the objects selected are the only ones you really want to delete, because otherwise you can remove by accident certain parts of the model that you probably don’t notice till you orbit the model or inspect it in more detail. Use temporaly X-Ray view can be useful in my opinion.

thanks for the advice! I have had that happen when deleting and didn’t notice until so much later! I started saving versions just before I attempted this dormer so now I am on attempt #2! So is it the same if you use the delete key when selected or the eraser tool? I use both…

Okay I am going to give this a try thanks for the suggestion, I watched the video and read the document thanks it was helpful. Still have to wrap my brain around deleting the planes from two different groups. Does that mean I have to merge them or just do it twice? Maybe it will become more clear as I try it.

Thanks again!


I think I figured out the dormers! I had to do it twice as the first time I am not sure what I did but everything disappeared that was behind my section plane. I am not sure if that just happens when you intersect faces with a section plane active, or if I somehow deleted it another way?

Also, I am not sure if I finished the edges of the roof properly. I feel that I am missing something. Is the fascia in my image already represented by the second lower part of the roof, or do I need to add another piece that goes over the edge? Sorry, I know my terminology is horrible…

here is the updated file if you find it could be helpful and thanks to anybody for advice.


Hi Lee. You model/project is looking brilliant, especially as you say you’ve only been using SketchUp for about a month(?) Well done. As to renderers, my only experience has been to use “Cheetah 3D” which is quite good. But anyway I just wanted to encourage and congratulate. Keep it up!

Thanks misternige for your note! I have actually stopped working on it because I can’t seem to figure out the export that I need to make this work… I guess I need Sketchup Pro or Windows instead of a mac to make the plugins work. I am planning on purchasing pro but not until I know it can do what I need, so I am stuck! I wish there was a bit more support with respect to exporting problems… I guess I am not using Sketchup for what most people use it for.

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In what format are you needing to export? This shouldn’t be a Mac vs Windows question - only a very small number of plugins work in only one of them. But the free Make version does not include the exporters provided by Pro; the list of target file types in Make is quite limited.

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