Orbit Tool and Cntrl/Orbit

As I understand the sketch surface, the red and blue axis define the normal plane (the “ground”) on which your model is anchored, and the green axis represents the vertical direction. Using the orbit tool, it’s easy to rotate a model around blue and red axes, but if you want to rotate it around the green axis, you need to use Cntrl/Orbit. But when you release “Control,” the model reverts to the last orientation it had with respect to Blue/Red.

I must be weird, but when I construct a model, once I have the plan form laid down and the vertical (walls, e.g.) pulled up, my preferred way to navigate around the thing to add features is to rotate it around the green axis. But one cannot “maintain” that orientation. Very frustrating.

Am I not understanding the logic, or missing some feature?

The default axis orientation is red/green on the ground plane and solid blue pointing up.If you are modeling assuming that green is up, you are going to have problems with Orbit as well as things like the standard views.

Ctrl+Orbit temporarily suspends “gravity” which allows you to roll the camera. Under normal situations, I find it extremely rare that I’d want to do it, though.

When you are creating a model, you should generally work up from the red/green plane, something like this.

What you are missing is SketchUp’s notion of “gravity”, as @DaveR wrote.

With architecture as its original target audience, SketchUp’s design presumes you are likely to be modeling a building. In that case you probably want the “down” direction (i.e. “gravity”) to be vertically down your screen. And, SketchUp believes that the ground plane is parallel to the red-green plane, so it should be level across your screen. As you orbit, SketchUp attempts to maintain these conditions and will fight you if you try to point red or green upward. Control + orbit suspends “gravity” as long as control is held down, allowing arbitrary rotation during orbit.


Use a Style that has sky and ground and you’ll have no trouble understanding which way is up.


OK, have now deciphered my confusion. For as long as I can recall using Sketchup, which is a spotty use several times a year for woodworking and remodeling work, I’ve been using the “Construction Documentation – Feet and Inches” template. I’m not at all sure why I selected this, and I’m pretty sure I had little or no awareness of all the other templates available until now. The Construction Documentation template gives you a two axis view (the blue axis is normal to your screen, and is thus not viewable until you rotate a bit). The green axis is perpendicular to the actual earth, and the red axis parallel. So I’ve just assumed the “ground plane” was defined by red and blue, and with green pointing to the actual sky, that it was the vertical axis.

Not sure why this template differs in its axis orientation from so many of the others, but thanks for pointing out the mistake I made. It’s the “correct template” from now on!

@Curmudgeon10, how you start with the chosen template is how it was saved. You can adjust and save it or make your own template(s).

In this case just consider the template / =your screen (as you see it when starting) as the piece of paper that you draw on, red/green is your paper /=your floor plan. And blue leaves your screen. Just like when drawing your floor plan on paper.

If you look in the upper left corner of the modeling window when you open that template, you’ll see it says “Top” indicating you are looking down on the ground plane at a top view of your model.

It’s axis orientation is no different from any of the other default templates.

Thanks. I just noticed for the first time, the “Top” label. Now my curiosity is aroused about the “Construction Documentation” template. What purpose is best served by opening the Template in the Top View vs. other templates that do not?

Some people like to start modeling in 2D with a plan view. As was mentioned, you could make your own template. The ones included in SketchUp are really just intended to give you a guide as to the sorts of things you can do. I prefer to work in 3D Perspective while I’m modeling so my template has the camera set for a 3/4 view from above and to the right of where the model will be placed. It’s also zoomed in so that my typical models would appear fairly large in the model space.

While you are creating your template you can position the camera where you want it, adjust the style (I prefer no background color, Profiles on but set to 1, and a green back face color instead of the default blue gray. I also have units set to Fractional with the highest precision I can set since that suits about 90% of my modeling needs.

It’s now your workshop. Pee in the corners and make it yours.

Thanks for the wisdom!