Spheres - can't make 'em

I’m selecting the same. I am selecting the path as the horizontal circle (path only, not the face) and then I have tapping the vertical circle with the follow me tool.

In both cases the, the vertical circle is in the same direction. The only difference is that in one case, the vertical circle is aligned in the center horizontal circle (red, green & blue axis). In the other case it is aligned on center, but outside the horizontal circle (green and blue axis).

If you watch, I selected the vertical circle as the path and then, after getting the Follow Me tool, I clicked on the horizontal circle as the profile.

You simply need to understand which is the path and which is the profile.

And you would be far better off building whatever it is with real world dimension, no calculations needed, then export at the appropriate size or scale down a copy etc while retaining a workable realworld size model.

DaveR … Thanks for your diligence. I now have a beautiful sphere!

It is inside out, right click on it and select Reverse faces.

Got it! Thanks. I’ll play around with it tomorrow and make sure I fully understand.

Draw 2 circles at 90°, one slightly larger. Select larger one as the path and then use follow me tool on the other and a sphere is formed with a “Saturn Ring”. Delete the Saturn ring and a sphere is left on it’s own.

If it’s a really small diameter then it will not fully form and have holes at the ‘poles’. To get around this draw the intersecting circles at the dimensions you require as above and make them into a component. Copy that component and scale it up. Double click the scaled up component and perform the same procedure as above, then delete the scaled up version. The original component will be perfectly formed and it won’t require scaling.

Hats off to Dave R!!!

Thanks DaveR, Guido & Box! I learned a lot from this about nuances in Sketchup.

And I have a fabulous sphere!

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If you want a sphere, you need to have the centre of the circle which will define the sphere vertically (or horizontally) in line with the centre of the FollowMe path circle, and on the normal to the plane of it.

Or you could use the free SU 3D Parametric Shapes plug-in from the SketchUcation Plugin Store.

Thanks John. Now that I’m learning spheres, it seems having more control and doing it myself is better than using the extension. I tried the “Place Shapes Toolbar”, but I didn’t seem to have control over sides, so got a boxy circle.

Great conversation, and thanks everyone for the input. I’ve just started with Sketchup and learned a lot from this thread. Below I’ve summarized my learnings. This is something I did to help cement the ideas in my own brain, and I’m adding to the post to help future newbies like myself in understanding how easy spheres can be. I don’t think some of these “rules” are noted in the videos and other online help items that I found before posting.

  • Circle centers must intersect on at least two axes. Beyond that, I’ve found the “rules” to be just a pit different depending on if circles intersect on all three axis or only two.
  • When circles share 2 axes, it makes a difference which one is selected for the path. If circles are aligned on the red or green axis, the vertical circle is the path. If they are aligned on the blue axis, then the horizontal is used as the path. This doesn’t matter when the circles share all 3 axes.
  • When circles share all three axes, you may get a line around the equator. This can be eliminated by softening it or avoided by making the path circle just a bit larger than the profile circle.
  • Watch the number of sides you use. Sketchup can’t place faces on small areas. If you need a smoother circle used DaveR’s component method to make your sphere. This lets you make the changes in an enlarged copy of the component, so you don’t need to be resizing. (See DaveR’s post above.)
  • Faces can make a difference. If you find you are getting odd results, or no results, reverse the face on the profile circle. You may find you need to create a new circle instead of just reversing the face on the old one.

One other thing I learned from this conversation is that it’s probably a good idea to work in full scale. It’s simpler, with no need for converting. Then the model can be scaled to the size needed when complete.

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Hello Everyone, I ran into the “Making a Sphere” issue. What a bother. I used to get models from the Engineering Toolbox extension, including spheres, but I’m up now to Sketchup Pro 2021 and this version doesn’t seem to like the Engineering Toolbox. Sigh. Anyway, here’s way to make a sphere and Sketchup will “see” it as a solid and if you make it a group, Sketchup will display a volume for it as cubic units, example in cubic millimeters, which is great because this means you can use the Sketchup Solids Tools on this new sphere you made. And with this technique, if you change the shapes around, you can make fun stuff. Just a few clicks and you could make an Easter Egg, easy. I used it to make a flying device, what fun. I do not have the genetic gift to explain anything in a simple manner, so I uploaded a YouTube to my YouTube channel telling how to make a sphere. I do use a sequential visual method, so if you “goof up” your sphere, you can go back by one and look at what happened. I do suggest for any move you try with solids in Sketchup, if weird “failures” happen, use the Scale tool and increase everything’s size (I usually start out at x100, but I have had to go to x1000 sometimes), then try again, frequently BOOM! now it works, just be sure to remember to shrink it back.
Here’s the url for my YouTube on creating a sphere:

Here’s the url for my YouTube on using this technique on a Flying Device:

Enjoy! Dr. Gray

Dr Gray, you are working way too hard.


I just tried Engineering Toolbox with SU 2021 on my MacBook Pro running Catalina and it works OK to create spheres.

Thanks Box, I find the Sketchup experts make everything look so simple. I could not quite catch what that tool icon is that you are selecting. I’ll have to see if I have that. I originally created the sequence of the little box following a curve with the Follow Me tool because it works consistently. It will follow a complex curve, an asymmetrical curve, a closed curve, and a mathematically created curve (like an airfoil). It lets me make an airfoil “skin” and extrude it. This creates a wing with faithfulness to the defined airfoil, allowing one to refer to aeronautics calculators. I can scale the end to make a wing with a taper, I can translate the far end to create swept back wings and/or add dihedral angles to wings. It allows creation of wings that Sketchup sees as formal solids so I can use the Solids Tools on them. But my sequence (you are correct) is not particularly easy. Dr. Gray

Thanks Jean, I will go see again if I can download Engineering Tools. I had great success with it for multiple versions of Sketchup but I tried it once with my Sketchup Pro 2021 and no success, but I am Win10, its hard to believe it would care if Mac or Windows. Dr. Gray

This is follow me.

late to the conversation - Box’s excellent video above is the best answer to making a sphere from scratch.

A potentially faster way is to go to extension warehouse and install one of a number of apps which allows you to place commonly used primitives.

“Place Shapes Toolbar” is a free solution. It also has a geosphere which when combined with something like “Artisan subdivide and smooth” (which is a paid plugin) you can quickly place a sphere with equal sides and increase the subdivisions and smoothness of the geometry with one button.

  • by the way, additional note - if you are into scripting, opening up and tinkering with the place shapes toolbar script is a great segway into learning to make buttons which quickly apply customizable geometry to the scene

I know this will not add much to what have already been written and illustrated but see this SU file for ideas.

Sphere quick drawing.skp (97.3 KB)