How to Make A Drawing in Sketchup 2017 From a Photo

I have a picture of my gas meter that I want to add to the drawing of my house in Sketchup.

Are thereany tutorials on how I could do this? All my searches just explain how to do building and such.

Would be helpful to see the picture of the gas meter and the house drawing - and by drawing you do mean SketchUp model?

Hi Eric … yes … model.

305_greenfield12.skp (1.3 MB)

I hope I did this right. I’ve uploaded my model, and a picture of the meter.

Not related to your question, but choose View/Face Style/Monochrome. You’ll see that most of the roof has reversed faces. Select the ones that are a darker shade and right-click Reverse Faces on them. Then reapply the roof texture.

Use match photo. Align axes. Adjust scale by setting spacing, then dragging blue axes.

Start by drawing up some follow-me paths and faces to extrude. Group separate parts. Make repeating parts (like screws and pipe connectors) components.

Use Follow me and extrude. Move some stuff around and copy components. Mine’s not a 100% complete or a 100% accurate model, but hopefully it helps.

Water Meter.skp (793.3 KB)


If you know the make and model of the meter, you could check out the manufacturer’s website for CAD drawings. You never know…

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Hi all …

Colin … thank you for noticing “that most of the roof has reversed faces”. I have no idea what that means, or what the consequences are. To me, a newbie, it looked good so therefor it must be good. The roof, in particular the gables and end sofits were really challenging for me. I managed to throw the roof on, but maybe not properly?

Forest … thank you so much for doing this for me! Your model looks amazing and was exactly what I was hoping could be accomplished from a picture! I somehow believe these are not beginner skills. Are you, or anyone, aware of a resource I can turn to that describes all the steps I need to take to reproduce this?

All I need to figure out now, is how to bring that model into mine and place it properly.

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That should be easy given @Forestr helpfully left the wall face behind the meter in his SU model.

  1. Import that model into your house model.
  2. Rotate and align
  3. Scale until wall lines between brick and foundation line up
  4. *Optional - use your photo as a Watermark in the Styles panel to check placement, scale, etc:
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SketchUp faces are like infinitely thin pieces of paper, and like a piece of paper they have two sides, a front and a back. When you apply a material to a face in SketchUp, you are applying it to the side that you can see in the current view, just as if you printed something onto the side of a piece of paper that you can see. If you then orbit around the model to where you can see the other side, the material won’t be visible, just as the print on a piece of paper isn’t visible if you turn it over.

After you have applied a material to a face, you can’t easily tell whether you are looking at the front or back unless you switch the view to monochrome mode. Many experts recommend drawing your model completely in monochrome mode before applying any materials because this workflow makes it clear which side of each face is visible. Monochrome mode also makes SketchUp more responsive because it doesn’t have to paint the materials.

In some situations the face orientation doesn’t matter, but sometimes it does. So, it is good practice to pay attention to face orientation as you draw and fix it up then rather than coming back later. Two key cases in which it matters are if you send your SketchUp model to a rendering app, and if you are trying to create models of solid objects in SketchUp.

Most renderers pay attention only to the front side of faces. So, when viewed from the reverse direction, the face may be invisible or perhaps blank, and won’t reflect light, spoiling the render.

SketchUp is a polygonal surface modeler. That means that it doesn’t model true solids, it only models their outside skin. By longstanding convention, surface modelers expect the front side of faces to be oriented toward the exterior of the “solid” and back sides to be oriented toward the interior. SketchUp won’t recognize an object as a “solid” unless if follows this convention (and some additional rules).


The SketchUp training series taught me how to use match photo. This series is a must-see if you’re interested in learning SketchUp. Also, if you have an specific problems modeling something, then asking the SketchUp forums can help.

YouTube is really great at teaching in general. If you type in what you’re trying to learn, then there will probably be a tutorial. For example, if there’s something the training series didn’t explain, like how to use a certain extension, then there’ll probably be a tutorial on YouTube. Sometimes watching time lapses of people creating drawings from scratch helps you understand the methods. Or examining models on the 3D warehouse helps you understand how certain effects are achieved. People get very creative with SketchUp on the Warehouse. For example, I’ve seen people create reflections on pool balls using face-me components. The list goes on, but point is you can definitely learn some tricks by checking out other people’s models.

Also, there’s SketchUp’s help section of the website.

This is a front face.

This is a back face.

This box has a reversed face.

This box has oriented faces.

The consequences of not orienting the faces are inaccurate renders and sometimes tools work unexpectedly.

This render has a reversed face, so the reflection is off.

This render has oriented faces, so the reflections are more accurate.

If you aren’t planning on rendering and don’t mind the tools working unexpectedly occasionally, then it doesn’t really matter because it’s an easy fix. Before I started rendering, I would never orient faces. Now, I make it a habit, so I can render afterwards. But orienting the faces is usually very quick (for a medium model with many reversed faces, it might take a few minutes to fix), then you can get a proper render afterwards.

If it’s your job, then orienting faces is probably the industry standard. But if you’re just making models for fun or to do work on your property, then I think you’ll be okay with reversed faces. But orienting faces is a useful habit to develop, plus orienting faces will make your model look more organized.


Thank you everyone!!
I’m starting to see just how incredibly powerful Sketchup is. So powerful it’s overwhelming. I thought I was doing a great job with my model, but when I see what is possible, I am a mere beginner!