Using SketchUp with a (graphics) tablet Q&A

I know I am in the minority using SketchUp on a Graphics Tablet (and I don’t use one all the time either) but I get asked questions all the time, I know I am not the only one and I met some fellow users at Basecamp. I figured I could start a thread and people could ask questions or other tablet users could share tips and advice. I am pretty sure at least one person on the SketchUp team uses one ‘sometimes’ but I can’t remember who.

Anyway, it all goes back to when I got an Intuos tablet for my 18th birthday, I was really bad with it to be honest but when I got my first job after University at WIRED magazine everybody in the office had one, no matter what job you were doing (using a pen helps reduce RSI most associated with using a mouse).

Rather than using a tablet a few times a week to draw I was using it everyday all day for all tasks from emails to In Design. Naturally at this time I started using it with SketchUp thinking nothing of it. Over the years tablets have advanced, they are now displays with multi gestures and with more advanced inputs.

About a year ago I upgraded to a Cintiq and haven’t looked back, more recently Wacom introduced the Wacom Pro Pen 3D aimed at CAD users, the addition of the third customisable button is a great improvement still.

Wacom were good enough to lend me a MobileStudioPro 16 so I thought since I have both an OSX and Windows powered input at home I would take some questions over the weekend. Feel free to ask me any questions and I will do my best to answer them.

The devices and inputs I have are as follows:

Wacom Mobile Studio Pro 16
Display: 15.6 inch
Resolution: 3840*2160px
CPU: i7
SSD: 512GB
GPU: 4GB M1000M
8192 pressure levels
OS: Windows 10
Connections: 3 USB C

Cintiq Pro 13 ( I have the 16 in work, I prefer the smaller tablets over the larger +22 size. I would have bought the 16 for home but I could not afford it but if you have the cash would recommend it as the ideal size, it’s also 4k).
Display: 14.2 inch
Resolution: 1920*1080px
8192 pressure levels
Connections: 3 USB C but it comes with an adaptor for HDMI
OS: OSX (this is just a display powered by 2018 MacBook Pro).

I have three pens, Wacom Pro Pen 2 (two versions, far left and middle, I don’t know what the difference is between them except the colour and material, the middle one feels better built?) and Wacom Pro Pen 3D (far left with extra button).


So if you have any questions or want me to try something let me know, I will answer questions when I can. I am using a SketchUp 2019 trial on both machines, I have no plugins installed and probably wont unless you really want me to try something (and it’s free).


I’m curious about the experience, used to use a Wacom pad years ago. What’s the procedure for orbiting while using a tool? The middle mouse button equivalent.

The pen I use now has a middle mouse button, before that I would use the keyboard or a shortkey on whatever tablet I was using.

I use the pen button as well and an application specific modifier:

Then with my left hand on my MacBook Pro’s keyboard, I use the shift key with the pen’s button for pan, and two finger scrolling on the track pad does middle wheel scrolling. I use the control key with the pen for right clicking mostly as I find the high button harder to reach.

I’ve been using Wacom tablets since 1993. PowerCADD works great with one, but SU isn’t all that friendly. Numeric entry in the VCB as intended by the creators is nearly impossible with a pen, as you can’t keep it perfectly still. The saving grace in SU is that you can draw approximately and click, and then enter numbers after you clicked, and the drawing will update. This doesn’t work well with continuous chain of lines with the pencil tool. (You can turn off “continue line drawing”) The offset tools can be frustrating too, so sometimes I just use my trackpad.


Do you use the pen in Photoshop when creating a clean tree/plant cut-out for face me components?
If so can you recommend a best value pen/tablet for such a task?

At work, I’ve spent 1-2 hours before cleaning a tree background in PS with a mouse.
Removing finer background details between branches takes alot of effort…

Yes I do but I don’t create 2D components myself, I either use 3D or I will paint them in afterwards.

A standard Wacom Intous is pretty sturdy, i’ve still got mine running ok after 12 years, you don’t need a fancy touch tablet for that type of work.

However if you are going to try and work with SketchUp on a tablet I would suggest a newer model that supports the CAD pen with the third button. If not a larger model with shortcut keys.

I use a pressure senstivity stylus in work and at home with SketchUp on a XP-Pen Artist 12 Screen Art Tablet , 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 bar with my right hand for tricky and complex situations. However the pen has two buttons built in and also 6 on screen buttons you can program per application. So it’s pretty easy to add in features such as delete, undo and other tools.

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