Noob questions from struggling user


I have been using sketchup very infrequently (maybe 3 times per year) for years now. I am still terrible at it and every time I have to use it it takes me ages to draw what I need.

Recently I had to do a very simple model. I have uploaded it.

I had to show timbers at the top of the spire. Once I had drawn one I would have liked to duplicate it to the other faces, keeping various properties like size, on face position, etc. I could not do this at all. I had to draw all eight. I tried copying and pasting but then rotating them to the correct angle and putting them onto the faces was impossible for me.

There must be an easier way to do this kind of thing?

spire.skp (234.8 KB)


Sounds like you need to look up “copy rotate”. I haven’t had chance to look at your model, but I think I’m on the right track.
I designed and built a six sided wooden gazebo, I only drew one beam, made it a component and then used “copy rotate” (a function of the rotate tool) to get the other five instantly positioned in the correct place.
I used the technique for roof panels, side panels and floor panels too.


Hello. I had some free time, so instead of screenshots and gifs I went ahead and recorded a video tutorial for you. There are several ways to approach your end goal, this is in no way the only way to do it. Very sorry for the bad quality but the forum doesn’t allow to upload anything bigger than 3 MB, so I had to lower the resolution.



I was open mouthed watching that. Astonished. You did that so quickly. I think I spent 2 hours making a far inferior version…

I’m going to try that myself, but how did you get the board to appear on all faces after you copied it to the 2nd face? I didn’t see you pre-selecting the faces or anything. Keyboard shortcut.

I’ve actually started trying now. How did you force that rectangle to go up vertically. Were you using the rectangle tool with the up arrow key locking it to the blue axis?


Thank you. :slight_smile:

• To make copies of the boards on all faces, after rotating the first one, keep an eye on the VCB Box. I rotate 1 copy 45 degrees, and then type 7x which makes 7 copies, one - every 45 degrees.

• Regarding the rectangle profile, if you mean the part at 00:15 where I extruded the line to a rectangle, it’s the modified version of Extrude Line Tool by TIG. You can get it from the SketchUcation website for free. I have a shortcut assigned to it (Shift+F) because I use it all the time.

Also, if you noticed, after creating the first board and grouping it, I turned it into a Component later. That way, whatever change I make to it, it will affect the other 7 boards as well.


Just a word of caution, it looks like your top octagon may not be completely true. So, if you rotate copies around this there may still be some error.
I would recommend using the polygon tool and make an octagon for the top and bottom.



I’m working on it as we speak. It’s taken me ages even to copy your first steps. I kept drawing the board on top and then not being able to select it and work with it separately as it had merged into the octagon below. I solved this by making the octagon a group.

I’ve made a new octagon by the way. There was definitely something wrong with the previous model. Every time I zoomed to the top it would kind of mess up.


My “rough description” into a much better example.
That’s how I normally would approach tasks like this with multiple “same” sides.


Always! Always group and separate your objects. Otherwise they will stick from each other, which we all want to avoid.

And you did good by redrawing the cone. I reconstructed everything for the video but @Shep is right, your cone was not precise, plus I think I saw a construction line somewhere near the base. Either the edge was off axis or the construction line.

But the “mess up” of the top part is not because there’s something wrong with the cone. It’s because you’re experiencing Face Clipping as we call it. It’s because the part of the object you’re trying to get close to is smaller than other objects around it. One way to avoid would be going to Parallel Projection view.


Yes, thank you. I was actually in the process of editing the video for posting it when you replied. :slight_smile: Happens here a lot, haha.


I need to get round to some sort of video capture, for the odd time I need it. Words can’t describe like a video can.


It was profoundly difficult for me to even follow an excellent video example. Eventually I got there. I really appreciate your time and help. I’ve attached the finished result.

What did the protractor do? I copied it, but I don’t know what it actually did.

Incidentally, I know this one is a hexagon. I forget to set the number of sides, but it didn’t matter for this attempt.

what a struggle.skp (94.2 KB)


It strikes me that learning sketchup does not just require the learning of the tools and the keyboard shortcuts and so on. It requires a really different way of thinking. I am not a mathematical person and I think the way of thinking required requires mathematical intelligence.

Regardless, I feel unusually stupid with this software. I do pretty well with computers, but this humbles me !!


Very great job! :thumbsup: The protractor was used only to get the center point of that small surface around which the boards are rotated, nothing more. I thought it would be “fancy” to use it, haha. Of course, like always, there is always more than a single way of using SketchUp techniques.


There is no need. It’s natural that by using SketchUp only 3 times a year, you wouldn’t get too much experience. True it is the best and the easiest program to draw in 3D but even that requires time. I remember it took me 2 weeks to properly get used to everything many years ago.


Right, now I see why you used it. I’ve found that often I need to create a reference point to draw or do something.

Someday I need to really work at this. I remember years ago I battled with photoshop. I did loads of tutorials and I am no expert but now I can do what I need to in the software. I need to put in some effort with this too.

I appreciate your time, and I’m glad I made an account on the forum. I will post again - next time I hit a problem (which is every time I use the software).

I’m a contractor who, occasionally, gets asked to produce a drawing, and that’s when I come up against Sketchup and get beaten to death :slight_smile:


I am the farthest person from Math you could ever meet. :smiley: Besides some obvious stuff like multiplying, dividing and so on, I just couldn’t stick to Math. Just not my cup of tea and I had to choose the exact profession I wanted very carefully so as to avoid it as much as possible. So far, no regrets.

And yes, I agree, that besides learning the program and the shortcuts, you’d also need to develop a “thinking pattern” like I like to call it. In fact there is a noticeable difference in “3D thinking” between users of SketchUp and other 3D programs. Honestly, I still find SketchUp the best and easiest because it’s like drawing with pen on paper - a natural way of making things and that’s one of the areas the program wins on the market.

Sure. There are many good people here on the community who are ready to help and provide support. Let us know how it goes. :thumbsup:


Speaking of math, that roof pitch is about 68:12. Steep.



I agree
After what I see by some very clever people on this forum, I would only describe myself as a " basic competent" user. Even though I have been using SU for a few years.
What I see often with new users, is them trying to put everything together straight away, nevertheless they get frustrated by this, not understanding how to apply the tools to what they want to do.

I remember taking a step back then looking at one tool at a time, to understand what I could do with them. (Line/Tape Measure/Move etc).
Then choose a simple idea such as a table and put the tools you have studied together.
It does take time of course at first, but it quickly becomes second nature with practise. You quickly develop ways of doing things and find it much easier working around problems when you know what the tools do before you start.


Yes, I should do that. I find drawing anything seriously challenging!