Combining Files

Hi, I had students create recreations of historic buildings, with each student working on one building. Now I want to combine their buildings into one file to create a view of the block. When I copy in the buildings, though, they do not align easily (one faces one direction, another the opposite, etc.). I’m a Sketchup beginner, so I am probably missing some obvious steps. Is there a specific workflow I should try? Thanks in advance for any advice.

One option would be to rotate each building in its own model to face the correct way. then, as you import them into the larger model, they should come in correctly oriented. Make sure the user hasn’t rotated the model axes, though. Right click on an axis line or the origin and look to see if Reset is available. If it is, click it.

The building models will import as components and their axes will align with the model axes in your larger model.

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In the future it could be cool to distribute a ground plan file to all the students in the beginning that has the foundation outlines laid out in 2d. Then each student could build their building in place on the map and when you compile the master file you could use paste in place to drop each building into it’s correct position.


Thanks, this is helpful!

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Or make 3D proxy’s:

and align the axes when creating the components.
Add a Layer, double wrap the loose geometry in a group and assign the group to that Layer:

Save the collection of components in a project folder:

assign each file to a student, the axes are aligned with the building:

Then, when they’re done, reload:


By geo-locating each individual file they will position correctly when you import them into one (geo-located) file, so that you won’t need manual work with the Move tool.

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Agreed. Geo-locating (add location) provides the benefit of adding a basemap/aerial for everyone to work off of as well as real-world coordinates…Once located, all you need to do is copy a building from one file and “Paste in Place” to the master file. Good luck!

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Thanks! Geolocating would be extremely difficult because the streets we are recreating were actually demolished. This makes our project really interesting but less straightforward. I appreciate all the suggestions!

If you have a base layer map for the streets, even if it’s just something you’ve drawn, you could set up a SketchUp template that includes it to distribute to the students. The map in the template could be geo-located to the appropriate Lat/Long. They can then draw their building in the correct location with the correct orientation on the map in that template. Once they have their building located and started, they could delete the map. Their buildings would be automatically geo-located. When you import them into the master file, they should go automatically to the correct location on the map.

It might be possible to use a Ruby script to automatically import the students’s files into your master as long as their files are all in the same folder. One of the Ruby gurus might be able to help with that part of it.

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Thanks! That is really helpful. I do have base layer maps. The area we are recreating was torn down for urban renewal, so it would be possible to geolocate the edges of the site. I will look into this–luckily I don’t teach the class again until Spring term so I have some time to experiment. Thanks so much!

Unless you plan to show the resulting combined models in Google Earth, you wouldn’t need to obsess over the exact location for geo-locating your map. Just set a Lat/Long in Model Info>Geolocation. Set it close to where the actual site is to get reasonable shadows if that sort of thing is important. As long as all the students start from the same template and draw their models in the right spot on the map, it should all work out.

If you do plan to show the resulting master in GE, Find a point on your map that you can identify in GE. Get the Lat/Long for that point from Google Earth and enter it into the fields in the Geolocation pane in SketchUp. Set your map so that same point is located on the model origin and rotated so north is aligned with the green axis.

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