From Concept to 3D in Sketchup

Featured Image_From Concept to 3D in Sketchup

If you’ve seen any of our speed model videos, you may be wondering how it all gets done. In this tutorial, we’ll go over the process of taking a concept to 3D in Sketchup. This is a long one, but if you stick with us you’ll be able to transform your own concept art into a 3D model!

A few key points to keep in mind…
-Focus on the overall shapes before getting into the details
-Double check your geometry
-Save yourself the time with symmetrical objects by only modelling half
-Save often!

Import the Image

Before you get started, you’ll want to import your concept reference image. Click on “import” from the “file” dropdown menu. Make sure you have “new matched photo” checked in the import window. Once you find you’re reference image, select “import.”

Next, click and drag the perspective points so they match up with those in the drawing. Make sure your horizon line is straight and each line goes to the same vanishing point. When you are happy with that, right-click on the drawing and hit “done.”

Move perspective points from concept to 3D

Begin Modeling from Concept to 3D

At this point, you just want to worry about the overall shapes. Don’t get caught up in the small details like textures and entourage. You may notice some architectural features are the same, so you will only have to model them once as a component and then copy and paste- that’s a relief! For this example, we are going to make life a little easier and only draw half of everything and then mirror it to the other side.

Create the Platform

Draw the front platform and use the push/pull command to extrude the shape up. Then, since we only want to use half, use the line tool to divide the shape in half. Use the eraser tool to erase one half of the platform.

Make front platform from concept to 3D

Right-click on the shape and select “make group.” Then right-click again and select “make component.” Rename the component in the “definition box.”

Hit “ctrl” and click and drag the platform to make a copy. Right-click on the copy and select “flip on green axis.” Then click and drag the copy you made to align it with the first one. To get rid of the center line, simply click on the line and select “hide.”

Disable Scene Transition Animations

When you switch between your model and photomatch, there may be a short animation. To edit this setting, click on “window” > “model info.” Then, in the “animation” tab, uncheck the box that says “enable scene transitions.” Now you’ll be able to quickly transition from the concept to 3D without any delay.

Create a Shortcut

To make this a little easier, you can create a command that will allow you to hide all other groups when you are editing a certain one. Go to “window” > “preferences.” In the “shortcuts” tab, search for the “hide rest of model” command. Here, you can customize or add a new shortcut command.

Make the Stairs

Use the line tool to carve out the stairs. Then, use the rectangle tool to make the stone face. Draw a rectangle for the base of the stairs and make it a group. Make sure it is aligned with the base of the platform first, and then you can drag it back to where the edge of the first step begins.

The stairs will be easier to make if you model it together as one piece. To do this, use the line tool to click and drag along where the tread and riser of each step meet. Then, push/pull the step up from there.

You may have to go back and alter the height of your stairs so that they align with the rest of the model. Make sure you hide your centerline and get rid of any unnecessary faces!

finished stairs from concept to 3D

Make the Front Supports

To make the front supports, use the rectangle tool to draw the overall shape of the area the supports cover. Use “shift” or the arrow keys to lock to the green axis. Once you have your rectangle drawn, right-click and make it a group. Extrude the rectangle up until you reach the center ridge.

extrude supports block from concept to 3D center ridge

Take the top outer edge of the rectangle you just extruded and drag it to the outer edge of the front support so it is at an angle. Make sure you are locked to the green axis.

Begin tracing the profile of the front support. You can use the “fillet” tool to create a smooth edge where it curves. Push the front face all the way to the back so you have an angled shape. Then, drag the back face of the shape you made to align with the back edge of the front support. Make this shape a group and then make it a component called “front supports.”

Use fillet tool for concept to 3D front support
front support profile from concept to 3D

Copy the front support and drag it to the end point of the platform. Then type “/3” so you have 4 supports that are evenly spaced out. Hide the face where the center of the supports meet.

Draw the Side Platform

Use the same steps you did to make the first platform to draw the side platform.

Make the Roof

Draw a triangle using the outline of the beams you just made. Hit “S” to use the “scale” command and make the triangle larger. Try your best to align it with the roofline of the second floor.

draw roof face from concept to 3D

Make it into a group and then cut it down the middle using the line tool. Extrude the face to the back edge of the model. To make sure the shape is evenly spaced on the platform, select the back face of the shape you just extruded. Then, make sure it is locked to the red axis and use the front corner to align it evenly.

drag roofline from concept to 3D

Add the Second Floor

Copy and paste the front platform up to the second floor. Push/pull the faces until you get it roughly aligned with the edges.

add second floor from concept to 3D

Use the line tool to add the wood board that meets the second level. Make it a group. Drag the inside point to meet the centerline, making sure you are locked to the red axis.

add wood board from concept to 3D

Create the Second Floor Supports

Copy and paste the first beam you made to the second floor, aligning the outer corners. Right click on the beam and select “make unique.”

add second floor supports from concept to 3D

Add Deck Supports

Begin by blocking out where the supports are. Make the box a group.

block out deck supports from concept to 3D

Use the line tool to draw the curved face of the deck supports. You can use the fillet tool or hand draw the curved edge, but be careful to stay on the correct axis and face.

draw curved deck supports from concept to 3D

Copy and paste the shape you just drew and make it a group. Trace the edge of the deck support face to cut into the front wall. Drag the back face of the deck support to align with the back edge of the first support in the sketch.

cut out deck support face from concept to 3D

To erase the lines you drew along the curved edge, hit “E” and hold “ctrl” as you drag over the lines. Make the shape a component. Copy and paste the front support to the back and type “/4.”

copy deck supports from concept to 3D

Add the Horizontal Roof Beam

Draw a rectangle along the front beam on the second floor. Drag it up so that it aligns with the horizontal beam. Make it a group. Click push/pull the face to the back end of the roof.

make horizontal beam from concept to 3D

Add Second Floor Door Opening

To create an opening for the second floor doorways, trace the edge of the front support and push/pull the face all the way through. Then, delete the side faces of the wall.

trace front support face from concept to 3D
delete wall faces from concept to 3D

Add the Deck

Copy and paste the side platform you made and align it with the deck supports. Drag the corners until it lines up with the rest of the model.

Apply Textures

If you want, you can apply some of the photo’s textures to your model. Right-click on a piece of your model and select “project photo.” A message box will appear, select “yes.”

apply textures from concept to 3D model
finished model from concept to 3D in Sketchup

That’s pretty much the basics of how to block out your model! You can use the same techniques above to finish converting your concept to 3D in Sketchup. Was this article helpful? Do you want to see more tutorials like this? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Hacking!


  1. allstarcarpetandtiles June 24, 2019 at 10:31 am #

    Great tips. I’m bookmarking this page. Its a great resource to keep. Thanks for sharing.

  2. hamzakhan17826 May 19, 2019 at 7:16 am #

    Ok sure, I will follow your steps before going to do exams. I hope your article will help me more.

  3. karlmistos May 14, 2019 at 10:41 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ll definitely share this with my classmates at de la salle zobel.

  4. classboat01 October 17, 2018 at 7:37 am #

    Hello there and thanks for your information, I have certainly picked up allot new info from right your post. You are also provided information about best tips for exam,Which is very helpful to me and other people also.

  5. mikemoreno September 5, 2018 at 3:48 am #

    thank you very much, verry helpfull…

  6. jogesh12345 August 14, 2018 at 1:55 am #

    Very effective and informative article.Thanks for sharing such an important tutorial.

  7. FLMIMA August 11, 2018 at 9:20 pm #

    Really helpful website

  8. Rumi July 15, 2018 at 7:16 am #

    I feel very grateful that I read this. It is very helpful and very informative and I really learned a lot from it.

  9. RJennings April 28, 2018 at 6:12 pm #

    Thank you for this website. The practice questions are helpful.

  10. Scott March 22, 2018 at 1:50 pm #

    Taking this test on Saturday. Last 4.0 exam to complete for the trio, then on to 5.0. This site is my go-to place when organizing what materials I’ll be studying

  11. shozab January 30, 2018 at 2:22 pm #

    Hi , very good article.

    thanks for sharing, keep up the good work

  12. dyba January 27, 2018 at 1:08 am #

    Good advice. Best of luck to all!

  13. KendraShirley January 16, 2018 at 4:04 pm #

    This is my favorite site for practicing for my tests! Great advise and super helpful.

  14. reximagetrim January 16, 2018 at 10:37 am #

    Nice post to read. A complete guide that can help all of us.

  15. tylerstockholm December 17, 2017 at 9:37 pm #

    Nice one… very helpful! Thanks!!!

  16. Aartiwalvekar November 21, 2017 at 8:56 am #

    Nice post

  17. Aartiwalvekar October 9, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

    Great post!

  18. Tony August 30, 2017 at 7:07 am #

    In the NCARB ARE 5.0 handbook they reference Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods in both of their example questions for cost estimating. Unfortunately there isn’t a specific chapter on cost estimating, it’s woven throughout the content.

  19. Spencer August 30, 2017 at 1:15 am #

    What is the best reference for cost estimating for PDD.

  20. Amy July 26, 2017 at 3:24 pm #

    Thanks! Great advice

  21. Tony June 29, 2017 at 7:23 am #

    Deciduous trees should only be used for shade (especially in temperate climates). Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall and will have little protection against wind in the winter when it is most needed. Likewise, the leafless trees allow solar heat gain in the winter when it is desired, and shade in the summer.

    Coniferous trees are only to be used to block wind and views. Since they don’t lose their needles, they work great for these two items year-round.

  22. Shahid Logan June 28, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

    Hello. My name is Shahid. This comment is for anyone who would like to reply. On the Siteplanning test. To block the wind, can you use a Deciduous tree or must you use a Coniferous tree?

  23. Mike January 4, 2017 at 11:04 am #

    Hi Tony,

    I need to take 5.0 PPD & PDD. Do you plan on posting notes such as “Caroline’s Notes” that you had posted for the various 4.0 exams for either of those sections? I found those notes to be some of the best resources in studying for the 4.0 sections. If so any idea when? Thanks

  24. Stephen October 17, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

    Hi Tony,
    Any updates on the SS exam ? If there’s an expected release date ? Thanks

  25. DesignerHacks October 4, 2016 at 12:11 pm #


    We are releasing practice exams for the SS exam later this fall.


  26. Paige October 4, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    Will you have SS questions on here at some point?

  27. Daniel September 9, 2016 at 8:47 am #

    Great post, very helpful with the lists of suggested materials, I just passed CDs in July and am taking PPP in November so I definitely needed the list.

Leave a Reply