Create an outer shell from complex model


I have a very complex model of a boat that I would like to make a 3D printed model of but without the intricate details inside the boat. I tried wrapping it with CADman’s meshwrapper but I was loosing too much detail on the outside.

Is there a way to make a solid shell just using the outer surfaces?


Basically the Outer Shell tool is designed to do just what you want. But it requires that all your selected objects are solids.


Do you have a pic you can upload?


All the tools I can find that would make it easier require it to be a solid.


I haven’t done much of this sort of thing, so I dare say there is an easier way. If you had a top down, a side, and a rear view, you could trace the outline of each, push pull them to be solids, group the three individually, then use the Solid Tools Intersect to make the shell of the boat appear.

I didn’t find an example with three view, but here’s one quickly done from two views.

boat.skp (402.1 KB)


Sorry, I meant… Do you have an image of the detailed SketchUp model?
This way we can see how detailed it is and perhaps determine steps to get the out shell.


It occurred to me that if it was already a complex SketchUp model, the tracing the outline of the three views could work from that. I made a box that surrounded a 3D Warehouse yacht, filled its sides with a transparent color, used the standard views in Parallel Projection, and traced the three profiles I wanted. Then did the solid tool step:

boat2.skp (1.0 MB)


Can we conclude from this remark that the SketchUp model is not currently composed of solid groups or components?


A flat face couldn’t be a solid, unless it has the tiniest amount of thickness. Don’t know what the minimum thickness would need to be, for it to still be a solid.

In the yacht that isn’t a solid, there could be a lot of flat faces. A feature where you could say: “make every flat face have some thickness so that the whole model is a solid”, could be useful.


Colin, what flat faces are you referring to? I was referring to the original poster’s statement that he “has a very complex model” coupled with “All the tools I can find that would make [creating an outer shell] require [the model] to be a solid”. From what I see the OP has shared a 2D drawing of a boat. It’s not clear that drawing is of his SketchUp model, and if so, how the model is composed of edges and faces that apparently are not configured as solid SketchUp groups and/or components. I wanted to confirm that a) the OP has a SketchUp model of a boat, and b) the model’s edges and faces are not configured as solid groups and/or components.


I model is a .skp file composed of flat faces. Looks like the push/pull from different perspectives will work OK but I’ll lose some detail.


Yes, it did get confusing. I only realized later that the complex model meant SKP, and not a real world model that the drawing was of. The flat faces in a SKP couldn’t be solids.


I looked at your model. I broke it apart into a couple of logical sections and then cleaned them up. Then I verified that each section was a solid. Then I joined them together.

I turned on monochrome, turned off profiles, turned on style end points and turned off smoothing






@gkernan I think that’s colin’s boat not the OPs.


I realize that - The OP didn’t provide a model - Colin did.


Ok, sorry.


I’d select all the outer faces and copy them. (depending on how the model is grouped).
Then delete it all and paste in place, if done correctly you should have a complete outer surface of the model. The rails and other external detail could be copied directly as well.


I didn’t spend much time trying to fix the 3D Warehouse boat. It was just to show the idea of making a solid from three profiles. It has imperfections as a technique anyway, but if the main goal was to get something that looks a bit like a particular boat, and can be 3D printed, it’s a quick solution.


This topic was automatically closed 91 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.