Sketchup with a stylus

I have just bought a Microsoft Surface Book. Have been trying to use Sketchup with a stylus and am having a few problems ie deleting things without a delete button. Does anyone else use a Stylus or is Sketchup simply not ideal for this kind of tool? Can’t find any tutorials on this and even Sketch up Support don’t seem to have any answers.Did I get the wrong computer? Help!

In general , SketchUp is ’designed’ to work with a 3-button mouse (left-right-button and scroll-wheel) so that would probably the best periphical.
With 3D modeling, navigating in the model is more important then the actual draws, and more accurate when not dragging, but starting and ending actions with a click.
Try a (bluetooth) mouse and notice the differnece.

Hi Jack, thanks, yes I usually do work with a three button mouse but was (it would seem wrongly) under the impression that one could use a stylus instead and in some ways it works very well but so far my biggest issue seems to be in deleting a plane. The eraser works fine for edges…

A mouse usually does not have a delete button, so you are probably refering to the keyboard’s delete button. As Mike has said, SketchUp originates from a time when a keyboard and a 3-button mouse were considered essential input devices, and alternative concepts how to handle other input devices are still missing.

Your Surface Book seems to have a keyboard that you can use.
If you remove/disable/fold it down, you miss the modifier keys which are needed for changing modes of pointer tools, the character keys for switching between tools and some keys for controling start/end of operations (enter, delete, esc). In that case you should use an onscreen keyboard. If you have a configurable OSK, you can customize it to show only the buttons you actually need for SketchUp (e.g. maybe only modifier keys).

As pointing device, a stylus is good when you need precise and smoothly curved pointer movements, like for calligraphy, comics, vector drawing, lasso selection on photos etc.
SketchUp is mostly used for linear/geometric shapes and has an inference engine that helps drawing straight lines. It can work with a stylus, but the main challenge is that styli usually don’t have a hover mode. So instead of getting helpful inferences (will it be parallel to axes, what length?) you are actually drawing the line on the first try, and it sometimes is off the inference or at wrong length and you have to undo it.

So a pointing device with hover mode and primary&secondary click (like a trackpad or 3-button mouse) is essential. I still like to use a stylus in combination, since for some tasks it feels more natural (you click where you see something on the screen) and for tasks similar to lasso selection it is more precise.

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Thanks Aerilius, you are so I right … how can something that feels so right be so wrong?:wink: I love using the stylus but keep having to go back and delete accidental lines -as you say. I guess I’ll have to fold and go back to a mouse but wouldn’t it be nice if SketchUp sorted those issues? sigh :thinking:


Put away the archaic stylus and get yourself a SpeakUp


There are quite a few people out there using a stylus with SketchUp. I THINK that the secret lies somewhere in using the context menu and keyboard along with your stylus (I don’t know anyone using ONLY the stylus). For deleting a surface, you can always context click the surface, then select Delete from the pop-up menu.

As mentioned, the three-button mouse is king as far as simple navigation in SketchUp, but the perfect peripheral is the one that works in your workflow!

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I have been predicting for years that eventually we will all be working on desks that are themselves desks/drawing boards. When I first started saying that back in the 1990s I was treated as some kind of dreamer loon and every techie just kept telling me what a wonderful invention a mouse was. It didn’t matter how much I complained that trying to draw at one remove from the drawing itself is like trying to eat with knives and forks that are 3 feet long.

And now we have touch screens, ipads, and the like. We are a big step closer. Nothing like there yet but getting closer. Of course, as has been pointed out here, to make this kind of thing work is not just a question of the hardware. The software must be designed to enable it too. Maybe when the techies realize that using a pen-like device on a drawing board-like surface is so intuitive and natural that everyone will want to do it, things will start to fall into place?

Having said all that, when I was making my early predictions, all CAD work was 2D and the correlation between a flat drawing board and a flat tablet is quite close.

I have also been predicting self-driving cars and “road trains” for quite a while, but the general rule is that it takes much longer for these things to come into being than you might think. It never seems to be quite as easy as it looks when there are just the first glimmers of a possibility!


I predicted that, eventually, we will not work anymore, just play!

Unfortunally, my boss is not ready, yet…


I think you need to be using the stylus with another input device.

I use a stylus in work and at home with SketchUp on a Cintiq Pro, I only got them last month but has been pretty easy to get the hang of.

The trick is using the pen on the tablet and then also using kb and touch pad with my right hand for tricky and complex situations. However the pen has two buttons built in and also 12 on screen buttons you can program per application. So it’s pretty easy to add in features such as delete, undo and other tools. I also have programmed gestures on the tablet (two finger swipe left for undo etc).

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For accurate modelling, numeric input is compulsory, so, usually a keyboard is a must. For rough sketching, it would be good if SketchUp’s length snapping would work more like grid snapping. As it is now, the point you click to start drawing is arbitrary so length snapping is more a nuisance than a useful feature.

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My stylus has hover and also a button to open a keyboard so I have found it quite quick but I need to use something like this with my other hand. Fynda Datortillbehör online - 9 kr frakt | Fyndiq

L0L you had me going for a while there Geo !

Thanks Aaron. I took Aerilius’s tip and added the onscreen keyboard which, l have to say is working quite well for me so far…

I haven’t used a Microsoft Surface Book, but I have used Wacom tablets for longer than SketchUp has even been around. As @MikeWayzovski says, SU was designed around a 3 botton mouse, and a few peculiarities of SU make it rather unfriendly towards using a stylus, but there are a few tricks that help.

  1. Zooming - I’m right handed and also use a MacBook Pro with the a built in track pad. While my right hand is using the stylus, my left hand is either on the keyboard or track pad. Two finger scrolling with the left while positioning the cursor with my right is what I usually do in place of the zooming with the middle, scroll wheel on a mouse.

  2. Orbiting and Scrolling - The Wacom pen has assignable buttons. By assigning Ctrl+Cmd to the first button, that’s how I effectively get the middle button of the mouse for Orbit, and then by using the shift key, scrolling. (Actually, thanks to @TheOnlyAaron’s video on input devices for figuring that out.)

  1. Numeric Entry - In order to type in dimensions, the cursor has to stay PERFECTLY still or else you loose what you’ve typed and start all over. This works with a mouse when you take your hand off of it to type on the keyboard, but no matter how hard you try, you can never accomplish this while holding a stylus. You can pull the stylus away from the tablet, which is pretty terrible. The only saving grace is that SU lets you RE-enter numbers before going on to something else. To do this with a stylus, you draw approximately the right amount and click then type the values you really want. This doesn’t work well, however, with the line tool set to “Continue line drawing”; once SU starts drawing the next line segment, you can’t fix the last one.

I’m not sure if #1 or #2 can be of much help on a Surface Book, but #3 probably does. Are there other gestures with your left hand on a Surface Book that can substitute for #1 and #2?

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Thanks RT, but I’m not looking to buy another stylus right now. Have not had the need to dimension yet, but it sounds like that is something which may prove to be a problem!

why not try something others more professional drawing tablet with screen as input device …I had an XP-Pen Artist 12 display Tablet monitor and it worked perfectly fine with the software, there is now no more, or barely any, jitter when drawing diagonal lines slowly.

more details : Artist 12 Pen Display Art Tablet for Beginners | XPPen

Wacom have also now released a CAD Stylus with three buttons FYI.

During my education as a architectural draftsman I drafted with drawing ink on paper (Shortly after, we moved to cad). Now, 25 years later, I consider purchasing a Wacom Cintiq 24". The pen has two buttons. Would be possible to use them for Pan and Orbit. Everything else with shortcuts, like I do it anyway. On my keyboard and/or the little remote, which comes with the Wacom.
Could be a lot of fun.

Interesting. I am so out of touch that I didn’t know you could even get them that big. Is the 24" measured side to side or diagonally? Either way, I guess that might mean a working area larger than an A3 sheet. As that is usually the largest output size I use, it would be fine. The only remaining question would be how well SU is designed to make use of such hardware.

Keep us all posted if you do go ahead.