Is there a way to import a scan of a line hand drawing and turn it into something I can push/pull?

I have a simple hand drawn line drawing that I want to imprint onto a surface.

Is there an easy way to do this?

I have a scan of the drawing… I need to convert it into ‘curves’ and then push/pull it as required…

The only way I have found to do this is to import the BMP, and the draw around it… But its hardly accurate, and I end up with a drawing which is thin… I need the ‘walls’ to be thick you can see them…

Are there any tools/techniques which will do this?


There are some raster to vector converter applications out there that will take your scan and output a DXF file. They can create a lot of artifact, though.

I generally just trace the image. It’s not really that hard to do with a little practice.

What is it you’ve drawn and are trying to convert to a SketchUp model?

As examples, here are a few things I’ve drawn starting from a sketch or a photo.

Everything but the back plate on this light fixture was traced.

The legs for this Shaker-style sewing stand were traced from a drawing.

The back plate was traced from a drawing I made by tracing around the original and scanning it.

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Its actually for a girl in work… She has a little cartoon that she has drawn since she was a kid, and I said that I could turn it into something. (I am talking 3D Printing)

But I tried, and didn’t like the results as to make it an object, I had to fill some of the open spaces and it looked rubbish… For example, I made the eyes open holes… And the nose raised… But it didn’t work So i gave up…

Instead I have made her a little ‘container’ with a flat top, and realized that I could have embossed her drawing as a logo… It just needs to be a line drawing (which is no more than a circle with eyes, nose, mouth and hands). I don’t mind tracing it… But how would I make the lines ‘thick’ so that was visible when I “pull” it into the surface?


To make the lines something that can be embossed into the surface, you could use Offset to create a double line sort of thing. Depending on the shape, you might need to do a little cleanup. You could also try using Greeble from the Extension Warehouse. It could make the embossing in one step.

Cheers… I am trying that now, and its making me realise how little I know about Sketchup.

For example… I just drew around a shape… And made a bit of a mess in one corner… So corrected that corner with the line tool and deleted all of unwanted lines and it looked good… But when I select the shape to do the “offset”, only the area of the line that I did not repair select… The bits I corrected can only be selected in little segments.

I can reproduce this at will… If I draw something freehand. When i click on the outer line it ALL goes blue… But then if I draw a line across it… And delete the stuff outside the line… I am left with one shape… But I can’t select the entire outer line by clicking.

Is there a way to “join” it all back into 1 object/line?

I will struggle on… I am sure I can work it out…



You can use a Weld extension (I like TIG-Weld from Sketchucation best) to join all those edge segments together.

It sort of makes sense. I expect the reason for what you saw is that you weren’t offsetting a closed loop. If there was a little gap in the selected edges, there’d be a little gap in the offset edges, too. There’d be no separation between the inside and outside of the offset edges.

Cheers… I actually edited my reply above, but you may not have seen it.

I can reproduce this behavour easily… And I assume its normal.

Basically if I draw a shape (anything, even a circle)… And click on the outside edge, I select the whole thing.

If I then intersect a part of the shape with another line… and ‘delete’ the stuff on one side of the line… I still get a single shape… But I can’t select the whole line in one click.

Its easy to select both if its just a couple of “segments”… But when you have done a lot of correction, its a lot of clicking to highlight the whole lot.

I will check out the plugin you suggested to see if that helps.



That is normal behavior you’re seeing. If you create intersected edges or you explode curves, they’ll act as individual line segments. TIG-Weld will make them behave as a cohesive unit.

Awsome… Thanks… I have now realised that if I make this big enough, I can just use a series of straight line or arcs to draw it… Rather than trying to do it freehand. Then When I ‘shrink’ it, it looks fine, even though its not perfectly traced…

I could do it with circles and and ars, but it would then it would loose its “hand drawn” appearance… So doing it with straight lines is working just fine… .


I managed to do much of what I wanted… But when I came to push/pull the drawing I traced, its not working.

Would anyone be willing to take a look at my file and let me know what I have done wrong.

Basically, I need to push or pull the cartoon shape into the pendant I have drawn…

Thanks in advance for your help

Cartoon 6.skp (1.3 MB)

edit… I just noticed the face of the cartoon was ‘grey’ and I have never fully understood what this ment… But as a random test I selected “flip face” and now its white and working much better… So perhaps there wasn’t much wrong after all?

That said, when I “pull” the cartoon up, I am getting holes in the pendant, so I dont’ think its quite right.

You are AWESOME. I love this place. I am so greatful that people are willing to help like this.

I will follow your steps…

A couple of questions…

  1. What is the difference between the white and grey faces? Is grey an “inside” face?

  2. You went to great lengths to turn the “thick” lines, into “thin” ones… Whats the difference between a thick and thin line?

  3. Finally. In the last part of your view where you “pulled” the eyes and teeth… You appeared to do that in one step with no drag… What did you do there? I assume there is a quick way to “pulling” a surface down to match another layer?

Yes, or more correctly, a “back” face. The default material colors back faces a bluish gray. Because with some lighting directions it can be hard to tell a dimly lit front face from a well lit back face, many of us edit the default material to give back faces a more dramatic color such as red or green.

The thick lines are “profiles”, which (when enabled in the style) SketchUp draws around the boundary of a shape. In this case they show places where the original lines did not cut the face of the disk. This is a known glitch that sometimes happens. So, he drew a diagonal across the affected pieces to get SketchUp to “cut” them and then erased the diagonal once it had done its job.

What he actually did was to push the rest of the face downward and then double-click the insides of the eyes and teeth to push them the same distance. In the final orbit action you can see that there are three levels in the final result.

Thankyou… I am almost there… With your help, the creation looks like this, which is absolutely what I was looking for…

but this wasn’t the ultimate project… I was actually looking to “engrave” the drawing onto another object… So I just tried that and I am SOOOOOO close…

I can ‘pull’ the eyes, nose and mouth… But when I select the body, the whole bottom face highlights…

Any ideas what I am doing wrong?

Awesome !
Select everything and intersect with model or with selection. The outside perimeter is not intersected with the face.

Doh… I did that… But just tried again and it worked… AMAZING!!

Right… I am going to print that and see how it comes out… Thanks so much… I REALLY apprecitate it.

No problem. When you have shapes like this, shapes inside other shapes, this is what happens. Intersecting again will do the trick.

I am doing it again… and now the entire top face of hte original model is disappearing… Going to do a bit of playing…

Right… Done it… Problem is, I don’t know what I did, or how I did it… I just kept selecting and intersecting until it worked.

Each time something different happened… Sometimes entire faces vanished… Other times I was told “no intersections” found… But after a bit of trial and error… I managed to “engrave” the shape… So its on the printer now…

Hope it looks OK when it prints… Thanks again…

Everything I planned to draw/make came out better than I could ever hope for… And the recipient was over the moon with them (I should hope so after the amount of hours work I spent)… But I decided to make one last thing… And have run into another issue.

Could someone help me this last time.

I just need to “pull” the background of the face up by 1mm… But when I do so, it makes openings in the side walls of the face… How do I do this, or fix the holes once I made them (I tried drawing lines across them, but I ended up with some odd geometry).

debbies model.skp (1.9 MB)