The scale tool is a great function in Sketchup, allowing quick resizing of objects while retaining proportions. Most of us use the scale tool on groups and components, but you can also scale anything in Sketchup, including any number of entities in a selection.
The Scale Tool
That’s where the Scale Tool comes in.
To use the Scale Tool, pre-select the object or objects you’d like to scale, then press (S) to activate the Scale Tool. You’ll notice a yellow box appears around the objects you selected and a bunch of green “handles” that you can click and drag to resize your object. Try dragging the different handles to learn the basic functions of the Scale Tool, then try some of these tricks.
Hold CTRL to scale from the center.
When you use the Scale Tool, the point opposite from the handle you grab will remain fixed, and everything will scale in relationship to that point. If you wanted to scale the object equally from both sides, you can hold the CTRL key while scaling and Sketchup will reference the center point of the object. I use this when I need to resize a floor joist, and I need both ends of the joist to move the same distance. Instead of push pulling both ends, I just scale about the center of the joist to get it done faster.
Draw circles by diameter.
When drawing circles in Sketchup, you have to define the size of the circle by its radius. Sometimes you only know the diameter though, and if it’s a number like 23 5/16″, it takes a little brain power to figure out how to divide that in half to arrive at your radius. Instead, draw the circle and type in 23 5/16″ as the radius. Then, select the circle and activate the Scale Tool. Scale the circle down to a value of 0.50 while holding the CTRL key so you keep the center of the circle in the same place (See tip #1 above, lol).
Your circle will now have a diameter of 23 5/16″
Use guides to scale to specific dimensions
You can scale objects by typing in a number into the VCB like with most Sketchup tools. The only thing is, the number is a unit of ratio, not length. 1.0 is where you start out, so if you scale to a number lower than 1.0, the object gets smaller. If you scale it to anything greater than 1.0, it gets bigger. So 0.50 would make it half the size it started out as, and likewise, 2.0 would make it double the size that it was.
Most often, you are trying to scale something to a specific height or dimension, so we need to have a reference point to help us. You can reference an existing point in your model, or you can create a guide using the tape measure tool before you scale the object. The Sketchup Inference system will snap to your guide as you scale.
UPDATE (5/12/13) – I learn new things every day. Marcus Ritland from www.denali3ddesign.com pointed out to me that you CAN actually specify a dimension when using the scale tool. So I could just type in 36″, and the cabinet would scale the overall height to 36″. AWESOME! Thanks Marcus.
Scale faces, Sketchup will take care of the rest.
You can scale individual faces in Sketchup too. Sketchup will automatically resize connected entities in order to keep everything in tact. Try creating a cylinder, then scale one of the round faces. Everything stays connected and Sketchup will even subdivide the faces in order to keep everything together.
Scale by Selection
Scaling groups and components seems to be the most common way I use the Scale Tool. Sometimes I forget that I can scale pretty much ANYTHING in Sketchup, just by selecting it first. This is great when I’m modeling a concept cabinet layout and need to quickly change the height of a cabinet. I can open the cabinet group and just select the upper portion of the cabinet. When I scale it, the toe kick height never changes because it was not part of my selection.
Scaling Groups/Components affects everything inside
This isn’t really a tip, but more of a little characteristic you should be aware of. When you scale a Group or Component (without opening it first), everything in that group will be scaled. This includes materials! If you are using textured materials in your model this may be an issue for you. If you are not using materials or are just using solid colors this shouldn’t matter.
You can avoid this from happening by opening the group or component and selecting the entities within that component and scaling them directly. When you scale faces directly (not from outside a group/component), the textured materials will scroll along that face while you scale, similar to how the push/pull tool works. Of course, if you are scaling objects that are inside a component but don’t want the other instances of that component to scale too, you can’t do that. Which brings me to my next point…
Scaled Components don’t affect other instances.
One great thing about the Scale Tool is that it doesn’t affect any of the other instances of that component, as long as you don’t “open” the component first. So you don’t actually have to make any changes to the internal structure of the component in order to scale it. But remember that if you do make changes to the internal component later, the scaled component will still show the changes, but in proportion to the scale you set it at.
The other tool you can apply to a group/component without “opening” it is the paint bucket tool. When you do that, you are overwriting the “default” material for that group/component. So all faces that have the default white/purple color scheme on the interior and exterior faces will inherit that material. If you open the group and manually apply materials to faces, they will override the default material.
Look for the green handle even if you can’t see it.
– When you’re trying to scale a part of your model, there are many times when you might have something else in your way. This might prevent you from seeing the green handle that you want to grab, but you can still grab it! Just hover over the area where you think it should be and it will pop up when your mouse is in the right spot.
You can also create a custom keyboard shortcut to hide the other parts of your model while working in a group or component.
When you get really good at the Scale Tool, see if you can pull this off. Let me know if you have any other great Scale tool tips. Leave a comment below.