Rotation help on a 3D "soccer ball"

I’m trying to create a 3D object that is based on a truncated icosahedron (e.g. a “soccer ball”). I found a base model someone had created but what I need to do is make all the hexagon faces components and all the pentagon faces components. That way I only have to modify 2 of the faces rather than all of them.

I made one of the hexagon faces a component and copied it to move it to replace one of the existing faces. I can move it and get one corner lined up but I’m really struggling with the rotation so that the copied face sits where it’s supposed to.

Hopefully that picture imported ok. You can see I have one of the corners where it should be and I just need the other side to “come down” to match up with the other corner.

Is there anyone that can point me to a way to learn how to do this rotation so it works or have any advice? I have really been struggling to get it to work and haven’t been able to make it happen yet. Or, is there a way to take the other faces and make them a component to match the existing one I created? That way I don’t have to duplicate, move, and rotate each face?


It used to be impossible to perform the rotations you are after to snap in place.
But since (I think) SketchUp 2015 you can rotate geometry the way you want.
However, rotated geometry and target need to be in the same context, Basic geometry or inside editing context of a group or component.
You try to rotate a component towards other geometry outside the component. FAIK that can’t be done.

You could start from the completed shape, the soccer ball, and create a component A from one face, having ‘Replace selection with component’ checked! Then make the next face a new component B. Continue to do so with the other faces, leading to component C, D, etc.
You can replace one component by another, so you can replace all the other components by component A
In the end you should have two different components for the entire shape, five sided and six sided piolygons.

Each time, prior to creating a new component, you should align the drawing axes to the face in question.

I don’t want to deprive you of the potential learning experience and modeling fun to be gained in pursuing this task, but if memory serves, a fellow SketchUp modeler and former Sage, Taff Goch, has provided many interesting models of this type and you may find it more efficient to use one of his excellent examples as a learning tool.

Some of his work can be seen HERE (Click on the boldface type on the left.)

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It should be a simple process since you are copying a shape so that the edges line up. I would probably add a triangular “fin” as a temporary guide that the rotation tool could snap to, especially since you already have the shape made and you’re simply replacing the shapes.

  • Make one hex into a component, changing the axis so that it’s flat and “blue” is directly away from the face.
  • add a fin
  • copy competent from edge to edge (may have to rotate so that fin points to the edge)
  • using the fin as a reference for the rotate, flip it down.
  • repeat until you have 5, then you can do these 5 in one rotation to get half the ball and with some other rotation select groups of faces and fill the whole thing.

Football.skp (291.8 KB)


That worked!!! Thank you so much for providing that direction. Saved me a TON of frustration and probably many many many hours. Thank you!