Need advice for organizing materials


I’ve been trying to make sense of custom materials. I want to create a bunch of materials (e.g. spruce, SYP#1, LVL, ZIP, hardieboard) and then be able to access them in future projects. What is an efficient way to do this?


When I create custom textures I save them out into custom libraries by species, e.g. Pine, White Oak, Walnut, etc. Depending on how many textures you’ll have, you might just create a custom construction materials collection. One way to do this is to make sure you have all the materials you want to save in the In Model collection in SketchUp. purge out unwanted materials. Then click on the Details menu icon (arrow to the right of the drop down list in the Materials panel, and click on Save collection as… Make a new folder with the appropriate name and you’re done.


If you want to add more materials to an existing collection, open the secondary pane in the Materials panel. Set one pane to In Model and the other to the local collection. then click and drag the material thumbnail from the In Model to the other pane.



Thanks DaveR!

So, when I want to access this custom collection in a future project, I will find it in the dropdown menu?


Yes. After you’ve got the collection created, go to the Details menu and choose Add to Favorites.


Great, OK. I really appreciate the thorough answer.


I know @DaveR has it right. But sometimes I just texture some small square faces make groups out of them and stick them in a folder like swatches. And then I can just browse to the folder and drag them into the current model. Rudimentary but expeditious.


Glad that helps. If you want, you can also go into the directory where you are saving your materials and create folders ahead of time for the various custom materials categories. Then, in that secondary pane, go to Details and choose Open or Create… select the folder, even if it is empty, and drag materials into it from the In Model pane.

FWIW, when I create materials, I create faces in the Sketchup file that are sized so at least one dimension matches the material. For example, when I create my wood grain textures, I always know the length. So I make rectangles that are the correct length. (8 ft, 12 ft, etc.) and then I import the images as materials and apply them directly to the faces. This ensures they are the right size on creation.

Here’s a screen shot of an oak material. the board is 7’ 6" long and I don’t remember how wide.

When I imported the image into SketchUp, I made a rectangle that was 7’6" tall by some random width. The width of the material takes care of itself when you apply it to the face. In this case I have three “boards” from the same log so three separate materials. Click on the lower left corner and then on the far end and presto! Done.


I have one question that’s been nagging at me: Any board I would pull off a rack to photograph as a material would be unfinished, but you probably want to end up using it for finished projects. Do you tinker with it at all in Photoshop to make it look more like it’s finished, i.e. darker, richer grain?


Yes. Generally I will add a “stain” or other finish to the images before importing them. In some cases I have made several different versions of the same set of images. For example I’ve got some red oak textures that have a sort of blond varnish look and a darker ammonia fumed version.


So in the example with the 3 boards above, you have created 3 separate materials, e.g. oak1, oak2, oak3?

By the way that’s a beautiful texture.


Yes. Three different textures from three different images of boards from the same log.



Dave, Do you actually build some of the pieces you model?


I have in the past. For the last few years I’ve been so busy with modeling and plans creation for others that I haven’t had time to do my own woodworking. Planning for that to change this year after things settled down. First project.