Some cool examples of my own

Client found them here. The inner cone can be rotated relative to the outer one, so make a component, and I if I need one different from the other, Make Unique, enter the component and rotate that part. I must say, I’m finding the SketchUp color representing a V-Ray texture rather far from the mark in this case.


More light fixtures. I’ve never gone this deep on interiors stuff before. Sure bloats a model, but GIGO is what it is: if you want SU to produce it, you have to put all that stuff in.


I sorta disagree. @DaveR once compared SketchUp to scene set design: It is right if it looks right to the viewer at a normal viewing distance, even if it is made of cardboard, paper and chicken wire mesh. Especially for products you get from manufacturers. Something that gets made from your design might need more detail.


“To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

…and by that token, to a photographer with SketchUp, everything looks like a prospect for Match Photo.

This is no doubt my strangest use of SketchUp’s Match Photo because I’m not even going to model anything. I just want to know: Can I determine conclusively what lens I used to take this picture 40 years ago?

Looking at the background, I see just enough of a building to create a Match Photo scene.

There are a couple potential pitfalls to watch out for though, and that’s the teaching moment here:

  1. I reported before and in my 3D Basecamp talk that what SketchUp reports for focal length under normal conditions is incorrect. It’s off by a factor of 1.5.
  2. On the other hand, like the adage that “even a broken clock is right twice a day,” what SketchUp reports as a focal length is correct for a vertically formatted 35mm photo, which happens to be what we have here. Because this is vertical and not horizontal, the 1.5 factor doesn’t apply.

SketchUp reports a focal length of 40mm, but it’s a scan from a mounted slide and is slightly cropped. (Cropping is OK if it’s symetrical) That means the actual lens is slightly wider and points conclusively to what I suspected: The 35mm f/2 AIS Nikkor that I had back then. So, with that, I can pull out and dust off the complete setup used to take that picture 40 years ago complete with the original boxes.

OK, ok, enough geeky distraction, back to real work with SketchUp.

TLDR Photo Backstory

The picture is one I took of my sister, Martha, just prior to the release of her first commercial Hollywood feature film, Valley Girl, on April 29th, 1983 - 40 years ago this Saturday. This picture has found it’s way on the internet, and I see it spread around now without credit, of course like this:

For a good telling of her career, the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame made a nice little tribute film on YouTube. I’m interviewed in it, but don’t blink, I’m only on for a few seconds. A bunch of my stills are used in it though.

BTW, besides Matchphoto, that background building combined with my foggy memory and Google Maps helped me pin down the exact location as well: 8225 Sunset Blvd now Pink Taco restaurant. The building in the background is in fact Chateau Marmont. This is right where the long straight stretch of Sunset in Hollywood makes it’s first turn heading west.


The FOV/focal length of a film camera is measured from the diagonal of the image frame, or the diameter of the circular image the lens projects on the focal plane. SketchUp measures the FOV from the vertical dimension of your SketchUp application window. Thus, the more horizontal your window shape is, the bigger the discrepancy between the SketchUp FOV value and the FOV of the lens you need to take the same image.

I have you to thank for learning this critical fact here on the forums. Once I got that, that set me on the path to figure out the rest.

  1. What you can rely on is this: If you type in an angle for the vertical angle of view, you get exactly what you asked, no problem. For example, if you type 37.8° with the Zoom tool, you get the view of a 35mm lens. You can resize the window and the vertical part of the image holds while the horizontal part floats showing you either more or (in the case of the iPad) less of the horizontal field of view depending on the proportions of the window (iPads are generally 4:3 so it’s cut off).

  2. If you type in a focal length, like 35mm, what SketchUp does is convert that to an angle of view and then enters that for you for the value. The bug is this: if you type 35mm, what SU comes up with is 54.4° which is the correct value for the horizontal angle of view, but that’s not what SU actually uses; it uses the vertical one. As a result, what SU reports for a focal length on horizontal images is always off by a factor of 1.5x because the aspect ratio of 35mm pictures is 3:2. The exception is a vertical image because the wider “horizontal” angle of view coincides with SU’s vertical angle of view.

During the party at 3D Basecamp, I caught @thomthom’s ear, and he seemed to be aware of this already. He pointed out if you use his Safe Frames plugin, then it will report the correct focal length.

Here for reference is my 3D Basecamp handout:

SketchUp AoV Ref Table v1,0.pdf (500 KB)

I keep a printout of this table on my desk for reference all the time.


As we come to completion, I think I’m going to be a broken record with this: Kinda looks like the SketchUp model doesn’t it?

SketchUp Model



I wanna the whole thing. Fly a drone around.

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The photo looks like a superb render. Good work! Looks like a great house despite the obvious very difficult constraints.


This may not look like much, but this is a huge milestone. After nearly 30 years of using a Mac laptop and PowerCADD on site to measure and draw existing conditions, this is my first time using only SketchUp for iPad and an Apple pencil to do an entire house. Ok, late in the day, the battery was dying and I resorted to pencil and paper for homework to go along with the photos for Match Photo on desktop, but it all worked out.

Tools of the trade: Nikon Z6, 14-30 mm, Leica Disto, baby tape measure, iPad and Apple Pencil with SketchUp for iPad, Bienfang Parchment 100 pad and pencil.

(From social medial, #sketchupsunday)


Is that that the Atlantic ocean?

Kind of, but not exactly. It’s Long Island Sound which opens into the Atlantic, but here, Long Island is just barely visible on the horizon when you’re at ground level. Once you get up a story or two in height, you can see Long Island more clearly. This is about the widest point of the sound.

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…and now that it’s done, it’s time for real finished photography.

SketchUp Model:

The Dusk Shot – (gotta have the dusk shot):

This was the chance to try something I’ve thought about for a while: When MatchPhoto fails because it’s too close to a one point perspective, this used a combination of knowledge of the camera and SU’s ins and outs of focal length plus a watermark and a Spacemouse to trial and error match the view.

Kinda looks like the SketchUp model, yes?


It’s awesome.
I’d live there.
I do like the viewshaft through the side yard, but I loved how the garage was open!

Do you not use Photoshop to correct the image? Or do you find match photo is better?
I seldom use match photo but I do use the watermark method to adjust the model. Forensic modelling is pretty interesting to get in to from time to time.


I do the vast majority of my photographic post processing in Lightroom (rather than Photoshop) and do often use “perspective correction” tools there, but not in this case. This is what I call poor man’s perspective correction. Traditionally it has always been done at capture with a shift lens, especially with a 4x5 view camera with a bellows. There are some expensive tilt-shift lenses for modern cameras, so achieving the same results with ordinary lenses is why I call it poor man’s perspective correction. As long as the camera is level (the picture plane is vertical), vertical lines won’t converge and the horizon line is dead center vertically. The problem is the subject wants to be framed looking up, so you naturally want to tilt the camera up. Keep the camera level and zoom wider till everything fits, and then crop asymmetrically afterwords. That gets the perspective corrected at capture, but cost you in terms of total image resolution. You can see the horizon vertically centered in the uncropped picture with the SU model, but not vertically centered in the final image after cropping.

I do Match Photo all the time, especially for existing condition survey, (which is why it was the topic of my presentation at 3D Basecamp last year.) I did one recently where I never measured any of the doors and windows, but I could measure them later in SketchUp with Match Photo with pretty good results.

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I finally got permission to show this project publicly so I could use it as a case study for my talk on plugins and extensions last week. This is a project I did for hire for fellow Centerbrook alum, Chris Arelt, Nautilus Architects. He sent me 2D AutoCAD drawings, and I did the rest.

Three extensions played important rolls: 1) Flextools helped insert so many windows in a hurry, 2) Placemaker provided very large context aerial photography and terrain beyond the property’s A-2 survey, and 3) V-Ray rendered the house in context with a lot of randomized plants.


Your work flow and attention to detail is incredible! very inspiring.


Your structure seems to have an Asian vibe… Very nice!

Just to be clear, that last example isn’t my design, it’s Chris Arelt’s. I just did the SketchUp modeling and V-Ray rendering.


Some recent work regrouping and reorganizing lately: I invested time in making a local library of window components for a current project that are prepped for FlexTools to insert in a double component wall assembly (so 4 surfaces to cut):