How to Draw Lines on Terrain | Sketchup Tutorial

Featured image_ How to Draw Lines on Terrain_Sketchup Tutorial

In this Sketchup tutorial, we’re going to go over how to draw lines on terrain in Sketchup, even if it’s sloped! It may sound a bit difficult to draw lines on sloped terrain, but once you understand how Sketchup works, it’s actually pretty easy. We have some more tutorials that may be helpful to take a look at before you start. Click here to see how you can import terrain in Sketchup. Once you have your terrain imported, you can get started. Just follow these simple steps!

Method 1: Draw Lines on Terrain

View > Hidden Geometry. The first thing you’ll want to do is go to “view” and select “hidden geometry” from the dropdown menu. If you look at your model, you will notice a bunch of faces that make up your terrain. If you ever want to draw lines on sloped terrain or any kind of curved surface, you want to make sure “hidden geometry” is turned on so you can see all of the individual faces that make up the curves.

show hidden geometry lines on terrain

Draw a Circle. Use the line tool to draw a circular shape that connects some of the triangular faces. Make sure you’re drawing on the faces. You can do this by drawing a line between edges of faces or making sure there is a dialog box that says “on face” as you draw. It won’t be a perfect circle, but we’ll show you how to do that in a bit.

draw circle in lines on terrain

Unlock. If your terrain is locked, select the terrain. Right-click and select “unlock.”

Explode. Right-click again on your terrain and click on “explode.” Now you can edit the individual pieces within the lines you drew.

Erase. Hit “E” to open the eraser tool. Click and drag it over the lines within your circle to create a hole.

create hole from lines on terrain

Method 2: Freedo6 Plugin

Alternatively, you could create a crater shape by using the Freedo “push/pull” tool.

Select Lines. Select all of the line segments within the circle that you drew.

Push/Pull. Click on the Freedo “push/pull” plugin and drag the face where you want it. Hit enter. Click on the “exit tool” button in the plugin menu.

use push/pull with lines on terrain

Method 3: Geometric shapes over terrain

If you want to create a perfect circle (or any geometry for that matter), you can use another method.

Draw Circle. Choose an area off to the side and draw a circle. In this example, we use the “offset” tool to create a smaller circle within the first one. But that’s not necessary to use this method.

draw ring to cut lines on terrain

Make Group. Select the ring shape. Right-click and select “make group.”

Move. Move the ring to where you want it over your terrain. Use the arrow keys when you move the object to make sure you lock to the correct axis. Turn off “hidden geometry.”

Drape. Click on the “drape” tool in the sandbox toolbar or selected Tools>Sandbox>Drape. Select the ring and then the terrain to project the shape onto it. You should now have lines on terrain. From here, you can delete the ring, so that you’re just left with the shape you want. It may be helpful at this point to also take a look at the hidden geometry. This will just give you a sense for how SketchUp works with edges.

I also just want to reiterate here how this method can be used for any geometry. We used a circle in this example but you could use something even as complex as a site plan.

create ring from lines on terrain

Drawing lines on terrain is just one example of how to manipulate terrain in Sketchup. You can also create topography or use it as a reference for building your model. Be sure to check out the rest of our tutorials for more Sketchup tips. What ways do you use terrain in your Sketchup models? 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 #

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  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.

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