Orientation of "Tool's on Surface" shapes


When I highlight an edge that no longer has a flat circle around it, (make a circle and delete the face leaving the edge), my tools on surface shapes will correctly sit perpendicular sitting on the edge. (Which is great for then using “follow me” tool. But now I want to use tools on surface ellipse or circle to also sit perpendicular to the highlighted edge all around this ring. But even though I only have the line highlighted, the tools on surface shapes want to glue themselves to the face of the object.

Is there any way I can get tools on surface shapes to mount perpendicular to my blue line?

I tried right clicking with my mouse on my blue line to see if I could change it’s response but tools on surface always wants to stick to the surface of the ring, and not the blue line.

I also tried using native tools but just making my own circle and then carefully moving it to where I was hoping I could snap it to the outside of the line. I unfortunately failed here as well.

For better understanding, what I want to do is use “follow me now” and create a shape that hugs around the outside of the ring, which I can then extrude or delete from the ring to make a design around the ring.

Thanks for any ideas.


I thought of a work around but have not tried it yet.

Could I make a copy of my entire model, then delete the 3d shape but keep the blue line… and then use surface on tools… hopefully be a perpendicular ellipse on the outer edge of the blue ring… and then use follow me tools to create my wrap around shape.

The hard part would be perfectly re-aligning the new shape into the larger ring. So I’d rather just be able to re-orientate the tools on surface ellipse on the original model.


highlight your path, and ‘copy’ it…

then ‘Select All’ >> ‘Make group’ >> ‘DeSelect All’

now that your ‘ring’ group geometry is protected, use ‘Paste in Place’ to add the ‘Copy’ of your path into the model…

now ‘Select’ the group and ‘Hide’ it, leaving only the path showing, add the follow me profile and extrude new geometry, make that a group, then unhide the ‘ring’…
combine the two with intersect or solid tools…

it’s easier to do then explain…



You need to learn about Copy and Paste In Place and groups/components.
Plus how to constrain to a specific axis.
Here I have selected your line, Edit/Copy, then Ctrl eraser to soften the line. triple click to select all of the ring, right click, make group.
Edit/Paste in Place to put the ring back, draw a circle on the green axis and hold shift to lock it to that axis, position it centered on the line.
Use follow me.
Triple click to select all the new ring, right click Make Group.
Ctrl select to select both groups, right click Outer Shell and both groups become one.


This is perfect explaining, both of you have my thanks.


Just saying you “failed” with the native tools does little to correct that, whatever you did. Also, you don’t necessarily have to ride the circle around the outside of the path; you can put it anywhere relative to the path that will result in the profile being the correct distance out from the axis of rotation. That’s what determines the size of the ring.

I’m not sure why you are using Tools on Surface, since you apparently aren’t drawing on a surface. I have no idea why you think the native drawing tools don’t work. Here is one way to position the profile exactly perpendicular to one of the sides of the path so the cross-section of the ring doesn’t get distorted:



Agreed, Gully. I finally realized why I had so much trouble doing basic things. It took quite a while to realize that there is much more inferring turned on with sketchup if you have a drawing tool on. To me, I think picking the pointer will have just as much inferring turned on. The pencil (drawing tools), naturally tells my brain that I will immediately be marking my material. So I naturally wanted to grab the pointer tool first to begin looking for centers, edges, etc, thinking inference would be turned on fully.

So this is where most of my mistakes and failures were from. Now that I know the drawing tools have more useful inferring on, and the pointer is just to select large components or faces, I’m becoming more fluid able to do things I want.

So basically, I was fighting with sketchup because I failed to notice this otherwise basic thing. I wonder if other people new to sketchup make the same incorrect assumption that I did.