Using sketchup for historical recreation

Hi, about 6 years ago I started teaching myself sketchup by using historical photographs/buildings as reference material. This has now grown to rebuilding the whole of Coventry before it was destroyed during world war 2. I’ve put together a few short films and I’m now working on an interactive app so you can ‘walk’ around the city. I’ve made a website, Facebook page and youtube channel. #CoventryRebuilt Little Park Street - Cathedral - Smithford Street - YouTube

I haven’t textured the city yet as I’m concentrating on making the city as accurate as possible before making it look pretty. I think the model is with 30 - 50 cm accurate.

All the best



Oh well done you! What a GREAT project! I have something similar in my archives which I had to stop unfortunately, because I’ve added so much detail that my notebook could no longer support. Hopefully will resume as soon as possible. Good job for you! :thumbsup:

Thanks for the message and the likes. Just thought I would share a few more images of the project and the use of photo matching with some of the historic photos which brings the model to life.


Progress on the Coventry Rebuilt Model -


Impressive work! How much have you made all together?

Depends how you measure it… I’ve ‘completed’ about 10 main streets with the facades, about 5 have all the back streets, over the time period 1880 - 1940 and a couple of buildings have internal details.

I’ve made a few youtube films -

I’ve got a working prototype for a 3D app, hopefully I’ll publish that sometime this year.


City From Above2


Nice work really well done, you should see if you can pass it off to a museum when you are finished!

Impressive effort, very well done! Or should I say, very well “work-in-progress” :slightly_smiling_face:

This is brilliant!

Very impressive! What a humongous effort and commitment. How long have you been working on this? Ps- all yourself? Just a passion personal project!!! I must watch the YouTube vids…

UK guy here.

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I stated about 8 years ago, however there have been long periods where I haven’t done anything with the model. Its only been in the last ~16 months I’ve really tried to see how far I could push it - and I’ve come to realise the model doesn’t have any limits. Glad you like what I’ve been doing. All the best,


The Rex Cinema opened 8th February 1937, sadly in 1940 it was destroyed in the second world war. Let me know what you think of my film -


The YouTube video still in my ‘watch later’ playlist!

So did you grow up in Coventry?
You must very much love the place!

I do hope the local council paid you well, this must be a very valuable resource you’ve built for them.

I Lived in Coventry for about 7 years - I’m a bit of a wandering traveller. I’m interested how a place evolves, the history behind it. Every decision, every event can leave a mark on the fabric of a city. Coventry has had a particularly eventful past. So I wouldn’t say I love Coventry for what it is, or what it was - more how it happened.

Btw - I’m not paid, funded or commissioned in any way for this work, not by the council or anyone else. Its just me, just a hobby.


I’m very impressed. That’s a very noble thing to do. I may not need to be concerned for you, but I see what you’ve done and I hope you understand that it’s valuable. And shows dedication. What do you do outside of this? I think this should be your job!

Brilliant model & amazing video work! I suppose that the modeling of the ruined structure was even more work than the intact structure (which was quite an effort in itself, I’m sure). I’m really impressed with the camera movements in the video, and your seamless integration of photographs with the model is terrific.

One tip for future videos… In writing books, authors will shorten the sentence length and reduce the verbose descriptions at the climax of the story, in order to focus on the action as well as to increase the speed and heighten the tension. In a video, something similar can be done with scenes, i.e. shorten the clips in the scene, change the camera angle more frequently, etc. I thought that during the bombing scene, introducing some effect on the camera (e.g. shake / wobble and/or suddenly jerking the camera to rakish angles) from the explosion(s) might have heightened the reality of the scene.

But really, absolutely wonderful work - far surpasses anything I’ve attempted. And I think historical recreation is a wonderful use of SketchUp!

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Great feedback. I watched the whole video but didn’t have time to comment at the time.
I also was really impressed with the model and photo overlay moments. You’ve made a great presentation out of your work. Quite inspiring I thought. So often I’m just working away in sketchup… I don’t really think about ‘bringing things to life’. And what I’ve seen here looks like it could have taken a whole team to produce. Really impressed.

Thanks all for the feedback, really appreciate it. I agree I could have done more with the bombing sequence. The camera controls in Sketchup can be a bit ‘clunky’ - there is a camera shake in the pan through the restaurant with each explosion - I could have pushed a bit further. With the main explosion, I agree it could have done with something a little more - I did play with flying round the broken roof with the bomb in mid air like a freeze frame - but I didn’t feel it worked in the sequence. There are plenty of other buildings that met the same fate, so I’m sure I’ll have more chances to experiment. Thanks again.

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Fantastic work Peter, insanely inspired (in a good way). I know how intensive it can be to model buildings and you have taken on ghost city on top of that! Apart from the honour you do to the city it demonstrates the narrative capabilities of Sketchup, something we do not see often, if at all.

It’s unfortunate that the SU animation plugins haven’t been so good. I now use the Regular Polygon Keyframe for ease. Many of these seem to geared for use to demonstrate moving parts, but you have been able to infuse a much more cinematic style within those limitations. Not sure what you have been using. The new Fredo suite looks to have more options.

Ultimately it would be great to get the model into Unreal engine or unity. The sample I saw of the Titanic walk through was amazing and I’m sure Coventry would look as good too.

Thank you for doing this !