Is SketchUp the right tool for breaking down parts of a 3d object?


I am considering Sketch Up purchase but not sure if it will do what I need. I need something that will take an object (ex. a sphere) and allow me to break it down into parts. I need to be able to visualize the sphere as if it were broken down into strips which start at one pole and end at the other pole and which, when put back together again, will create the complete sphere. I know this can be done in Rhino but since I am a complete newbie to 3D software, I find Rhino way over my head. I was told Sketch Up had less of a learning curve. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

Turn a 3D curve(fabric) into a plan projection
Projections for CNC Production

Like so?


The posted screen image is not visible.


Geo’s image was there earlier, but there is an issue with images at the moment that is being worked on.

If this one shows it’s another option.
There are a few tools that allow you to unwrap the geometry, in this image I have used the plugin Flattery.


Lots of ways to peel an orange.


Cool! i think that will work for what I am looking to do. Thanks so much for responding.


This looks exactly like what I am looking to do. Now if I can only learn how to do it. Thanks so much for responding.


You’ll find this plugin handy…

Unfold Tool by Jim Foltz


Geo, can you outline the steps that took? It could be useful to not only know that it was possible, but how easy it is. SketchUp isn’t like other modeler programs, there are even tutorials on making a sphere in the first place!


Most folks find the video tutorials are the easiest way to learn SketchUp.
There’s practically no end to learning resources, some* of which are built into the SketchUp user interface.

*• Instructor (Click … Window > Instructor)

*• Status Bar (Located at the bottom of the SketchUp drawing area)

• Learning SketchUp

• Quick Reference Card

• Getting Started Guide

• Concepts Guide

• SketchUp User’s Guide

• SketchUp Knowledge Center

• SketchUp Training Videos (latest)

• SketchUp Training Videos (older)

• SketchUp Training Videos (SketchUp site)

• Aidan Chopra Video Tutorials

•The SketchUp Sage and SUWiki

• Trimble SketchUp Help Forum

• SketchUcation Community Forums

Are There Sample SketchUp Models for Experimenting?

You can also try my extension:

It does some automatic flattening (e.g. of the strips). Automatically unwrapping the entire thing in one go (while it might be able to do it) might not work so well.


A “recent-SketchUp-version-compatible” update for Flattery is hosted at SketchUcation’s PluginStore…


Alexschreyer, Thanks. I tried Flatten-Faces but it appears to be confounded by the spheres.


You would have to do the sphere in strips: Highlight a strip and flatten, then do the next. It flattens strips quickly but doesn’t give you any control over how it does it.

Here’s actually what happens when you first do a single strip and then let the plugin do everything else automatically. I am always amazed to see which path it took. Becasue the starting point is random, each run will lead to a different result.


I have been using sketchup for about 2 months now, and I am having a similar issue. I have done a drawing that basically represents the framework of an awning. Specifically a bubble awning. In 3d modeling terms the general outer shape is 1/4 sphere. This awning has 7 spaces that are not equal. (As the frame is actually made out of 1" sq. Aluminum there is spacing built in to account for fabrication and welding the frame together. In patterning the fabric that would cover this frame, what I would like to be able to do is draw each panel/section as needed in 3d, then flatten it out in 2d so that i can cut it on our automated cutter/plotter. Any advice on an easy way to achieve this? I use sketchup 2016. I have attached the file I have created so far. BUBBLE for Testing UNwrapping-02.skp (309.8 KB)


You could try the Tools on Surface extension to draw on the surface (and subdivide it as you like). Then use my tool to flatten.




I think i found a bezier curves tool that will work to make the shape i want, but im having issues with unwrapping and flattening now. I already downloaded your extension. Any suggestions. Here is the attached isolated panel i want to try.Unwrap sample help.skp (117.9 KB)


I see. This is actually quite simple. Just turn on hidden lines and then select “reasonable” panels in your model. In your case, select the horizontal strips and flatten them individually. Once they are all on the ground, you can simply rotate each and reassemble flat to get the cutout shape.

When you have fabric or any material that stretches, then you can let the parts overlap a bit (like I did here). Here’s the file:

Unwrap sample help (2).skp (177.2 KB)


got it to work, thank you!!!