Moving and rotating faces into the perpendicular axis


I’m still struggling to get used to the Sketchup mindset. I’m trying to make things work my way and becoming frustrated.
As per my earlier thread (here), I want to position some rectangles on a 2d XY grid and then move them up in the Z direction and then rotate each one up to be in the XZ plane. I select the rectangle and try to move it and it just slides around on the XY plane, but if I hit the arrow keys maybe 20% of the time i can lock it to move in the axis I want, then if I am lucky when I move the mouse to the desired inference point it will stay in the axis I want to move. So far I find I have to do this 3 times for each shape: first for X, then Y, then Z.
If/when I finally get all my rectangles in the right position, I want to then rotate them from the XY plane to the XZ plane. As the rectangle has a Z width of zero I find it difficult to position the rotate tool correctly. It seems to be a non intuitive combination of clicks and drags to select the face, then position the tool in the corner, then while holding the button down flip to tool around the axis by dragging to the adjacent corner then click again to set the zero then click again to set the angle. I understand it, but gosh it will take some getting used to.
It doesn’t help that when I copy and paste editable 3d text, when I edit the text it changes all instances. Additionally, when I try to paste It always wants to paste in the XY plane even when I copied from the XZ plane. Hence - I am hoping that these rectangular faces will work as placeholder pasting targets.


You should start to search for basic videos about:

  • move tool (with locking and autofold)
  • inference system (with forcing and locking)
  • components (and how to make them unique)
  • rotate tool (and fixing the axis of rotation)
  • paste in place


This is a common problem for people who come to SketchUp from another CAD program or whose intuition just doesn’t quite match SketchUp’s way. Rather than trying to make SketchUp work your way, I second Cotty’s suggestion that you study how SketchUp’s designers intended it to work before getting more frustrated. There are some clever tricks and techniques that aren’t obvious (e.g. if you select the rotate tool, then click and drag on an edge, it will align for rotation about that edge), but most things are very natural once you abandon preconceptions.


Getting back to your question, I think you’re basically right about it not rotating because it’s infinitely thin. You can work around that by making the item be a group. Once it’s a group you can use the Move tool, and near the ends of the shape (looked at from the side) you’ll find rotation points. It’s easy to then rotate it 90 degrees. You can explode the group afterwards if you want.


Drawing rectangles in a certain plane (XY or XZ or YZ) depends on how you look at your modeling space. Looking (mostly) down will make you draw on the ground plane (XY).
Orbit to look in (mostly) the green axis direction and your rectangle will be drawn on a XZ plane.
Orbit to look in the red axis direction and your rectangle will be in drawn in a YZ plane.

Switch to iso view and all three options should be possible.


I didn’t have to use grouping, the faces did rotate but I was commenting that the way the tool worked was not intuitive to me. Cotty and slbaumgartner gave me the “Yoda” moment I needed to realise I had to unlearn what I thought I knew to move forward. I’ll go through all the tutorials before making another attempt on my task.


This is because 3D text has Glue to properties, so it sticks to the plane it is placed on.
Right click, unglue.

Looks like I misread that but the rotate tool works the same on faces.
Just be aware of colour inference and click release not click drag (unless you specifically want to make directional rotation.)


If you were going through the steps I think you were, you were using the Rotate tool. I was talking about the Move tool, which has a very easy way to rotate things.


My first animated GIF! Here’s the rotation with Move tool I talked about. You don’t see it, but I do a select all, group, before reaching for the rotation handle:


Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for helping out & convincing me to do the tutorials last week. I did the four 10 minute “getting started” videos and it really helped! I found the videos useful and well presented and well worth the time spent. I now feel able to quickly knock up the kind of diagrams I wanted to do. (edit: and in the end it was all using the standard tools without any of the extensions)