Rectangle Tool Orientation - Tool wants to make a rectangle based on the "blue" orientation ONLY!


I am a new user, but not new to the 3D modeling environment. When I use the rectangle tool to create a rectangle it seems to be “glued” to the vertical axis (blue). I can not for the life of me get the rectangle to orient to the red / green axis.
Anybody ???

SketchUp 2016 Pro (trial version) loaded recently.

For those who might ask if I’ve searched the forum for this… yes, I most certainly have, but have not found anything relating to this issue.

Thanks in advance.


Sketchup uses camera angle to determine what axis you want to draw on. So if you are looking down it is blue, to the left it is red and into the distance Green.
Orbit your model around to get the various inferences. You can also lock to planes with the shift or arrow keys.

Here I have used the circle tool as it shows the axes colours, but the rectangle tool behaves the same way.


Thank you Box… I have researched this and experimented with the concept, but to no avail.
I do have a bit more background info regarding this anomaly. If there is nothing else in the field of vision drawing a rectangle is as it should be. However, if I create a large flat surface, or a room to work in, for orientation and viewing aid (in Maya I always created a large sphere or dome around my work area) then the rectangle tool no longer will recognize any other plane other than the vertical “blue” one.

I create this basic plane (here it is a two sided room) for visualization and lower it slightly below the red / green axis to allow for creating objects along the red / green axis. From there I always build up and out.

Above you can see what I mean. It absolutely will not draw a rectangle on the red / green plane.
I hope I am using proper terms here.


Simple answer, one of the beauties of SU is the inference engine, the ability to draw things that orientate easily to other things. Moving below the origin will make it want to orient to the origin and down.
Coming from another 3d software can often cause you to fight the inference rather than understand it.

Yes, if something else is in view it will offer to orientate to that. As I mentioned, using the shift key and the arrow keys can lock the orientation to specific planes. But mainly it comes down to where you are looking from and what is in the frame of reference.

It’s all too hard to explain and very simple to understand once you get it.


Shift key and/or arrow keys don’t seem to do anything. I have however realized that I was trying to start my rectangle at the center point of the 3 axis. Maybe this is the problem. I just drew 4 out of 5 rectangles correctly as I intended by simply starting the box on the red or green axis line instead of the center point of the red/green/blue axis.

Thank you Box for your time and efforts.

Now can you tell me two other things… off the wall (sort of speak) ?
Is there a manual (pdf) for SU ?
And what is the little “tea-pot” on the right side of each layer box in the layers window ???
A tea-pot ??? Really ?
If it turns red, does that mean that my layer is simmering or over-loaded with too many objects ?


@denisroy is probably correct as I know of no such teapot.


For a rectangle, the rotated rectangle tool was added to version 2015 (?) to simplify this task for beginners (?).


Another simple thing you might be missing is [click-release] to set the start point and [click-release] to set the end point: don’t drag.
If you use the middle mouse button to orbit the view in between these two actions, then you can orientate the rectangle before placing the end point.
{NOTE: Feature Request - make the arrow keys work between clicks. (I thought they did… I was/am mistaken)}

But as Cotty says, it’s probably easier to use the rotated rectangle: it’s an extra click, but the arrow keys work between each click.


I think I have a question somewhat related to this thread, so I’m asking it here. I often want to draw an arc on a plane in space away from the origin planes, and perhaps not parallel with any of them. I have a SolidWorks background, so I’m accustomed to defining a new plane, then creating a drawing on that plane. In SU, I’ve resorted to drawing a new circle in the place and orientation that I want, drawing on that circle, and then deleting the circle, but it feels kludgy. Is there a better way?


All the inference systems work before the first click and between clicks, so you can move the mouse over and existing plane and hold [shift] to lock that as the plane to draw on.

(Note: Holding [shift] will constrain it to starting on that exact plane. If you release [shift] you can draw on a parallel plane to that one by using the down arrow to cycle to the pink inference)


Although it’s for SketchUp 6, this PDF covers everything about the functionality of using the SketchUp tools.


Yes, that is correct. I did download the plugin for layers from the 3D warehouse.


I have learned how to, and the importance of, taking advantage of the groups and components functions. Besides using Maya, I am also a novice Adobe Photoshop user (for around 5 years now) and I use layers to separate objects so that one… I can toggle out their visibility, and two… I won’t inadvertently change something previously created and finished.

This seems to be another issue for me in SketchUp. Despite locking components and / or utilizing layers, I find that objects can still be manipulated. I find this frustrating.


Difficulty adapting to SketchUp’s notion of “Layers” is a recurring theme among people who come to SketchUp from other apps that use “layers” to mean something else. I suppose the original designers of SketchUp saw some similarities of function and chose that name in an effort to help people to learn SketchUp. In retrospect, it backfired and I’d bet it is one of the decisions the designers wish they could take back!

In SketchUp you have to repeatedly drill through your head that SketchUp Layers control only visibility and color-by, they do not provide any sort of grouping, isolation, or structure.

A closely related aspect of SketchUp that trips newbies is that visibility only affects what can be seen and selected in the view. It does not prevent loose (i.e. not contained in a Group or Component) geometry from interacting with other loose geometry. Such interactions can be confusing in the extreme.


Thank you denisroy, and everybody else too for your input and explanations.
Forgive me for saying this, I’ll explain in a second…
In my opinion, SketchUp is just a cheap “knock-off” of the real thing, that being either Auto-Cad or Maya… you choose.

Now with that said, and pissing off half (if not the entire) SU community, let me explain. I learned Adobe Photoshop in college, three or so years of it. I was taught that Adobe Creative Suite was the bench mark of design software in the industry. I started learning Maya at the same time. Again, I was taught that Maya was the “leading” 3D software in the industry (modeling, film, animation etc… ). I grew accustomed to certain tools to have certain functions and was taught the reasoning for such functions and their advantages.

Bare with me now… please :smile:
SketchUp seems to have some of these tools and functions, but looks are evidently deceiving.

“Cheap” - an example of this is the fact that while I am typing this reply and double clicked on the words taught and leading and choosing the B icon above to “bold” those words the function didn’t work properly. Neither did the Italics function. Yes, I know that you look at those words and they look fine… now. But what you do not realize is that I had to remove the asterisks and input them manually to get the intended effect. Before I did so, every word following the intended bold word was bold as well. A glitch in the forum’s code I guess, but I figured it out easily enough and did a “work-around” to get the words that I wanted to appear in bold and italics to appear so.

Now I am no longer in school and can no longer afford those (over priced) software programs, although I do still retain my Adobe CS5 Collection that I paid cash for. So, here I am learning SketchUp for personal use.
Is it a knock-off ? Sure it is, but I fully realize that Google has created this program as well as many others for the rest of the world that can not afford expensive software programs, myself included.

I am all for Open Source software. It’s a great concept for the community as well as the world in general.

Do I get aggravated at the glitches in programs like this ? Yes.
Am I thankful to have the program and be learning it…? Absolutely !

With all that said, my only question is this; why can’t a layers function isolate the other objects from one another like in most, if not all the other programs ? It seems like a total waste of good programming time to design it and all it does is act as a color coded representation of a group of parts. Even in the 3DW layers plugin there is a “Lock” radio button on each layer level, but it doesn’t lock anything. I select the lock layer function and go to my work piece to test it and nothing is locked. I can manipulate it as if it were never locked at all. So why is it there ? My only guess is so that it “looks” like the more expensive programs. This is a total waste of good programming.
I accept @slbaumgartner’s explanation for that one though.

I’ve been experiencing other issues as well, but I won’t go into it here…
I accept that I just have to suck it up and learn how to deal with it.

So please bare with me folks, I sincerely appreciate all your help and I am sure that eventually I will be able to contribute to the benefit of others learning as well.

As an after thought, SketchUp is quite a program… I am looking forward to working with it, and I hope that everyone will tolerate me. I promise that I’ll do my very best to be on my best behavior.


Thanks for that, I don’t think I could have got through another day without the compelling insights your vast minutes of experience with the software has allowed you to share with us. I’ve seen the error of my ways and will immediately drop this pathetic knockoff… oh god what was I think all these years.


the primary outcome of education is what you learnt
the primary outcome of learning is to question what you have been taught


Well said sir.
Sorry about the confusion regarding the Google creating SU… I’m not current with all the development handidowns and so on…
I’ve never heard of some of the other software mentioned… with the exception of Blender… I’ve used it a couple of times, but when I received my Maya from school, I reverted back to it (Maya) as fast as I could.
Never used AC either.

Sorry if I sound like I am complaining… I really am thankful and very excited to have this program and be learning again.
I’ve been out of touch with life for a couple of years (due to medication issues) and I am so excited to start feeling human again. I reduced one of my meds recently and in the past week I have really been “waking” up… like in the Robin Williams movie Awakenings ! Anyway, I’ve been taking pictures of everything I see with grand intentions of modeling everything in SU !!!

As for the discourse issues, maybe the preview window was showing me a lie… or slow to render ???

Thanks again.


That is a mouthful you know !!!


Well, spit them out if they are SketchUp related and worth looking at, to get you going (*).

(*) going, as in modeling in SketchUp, not as in … disappearing from the forum.