The freedom and flexibility of the various tools in SketchUp are what make it so awesome for modeling. The tools don’t hinder the creative process, and they give you many different ways to manipulate objects. In this article, I’ll go over 10 different ways you can move objects in SketchUp, and why you would use each one.
- Use Inference points – SketchUp has a very powerful inference system that helps you snap to various objects in your model. You can snap to end points, mid points, faces, and more. Check out this article for an in depth look at the inference system.
- Reference other points in your model – You don’t have to select a point on the object you want to move, in order to move it. You simply need to have it pre-selected. When you want to move something in SketchUp, you can pre-select it with the Select tool (Spacebar). Then use the Move tool (M) to reference a different set of points in your model for length or alignment.
- Align your view to help select multiple, parallel edges – When you want to select multiple parallel edges at once, it’s helpful to align your view 90° to those edges, so they appear as a single point on your screen. Dragging a selection box becomes easier, and you are assured that you’ve selected the entire length of the edge. Then, use the Move tool (M) to move the objects.In the animation below, you’ll see me align the view perfectly with the end face, with the camera in Parallel Projection mode. That’s not necessary 100% of the time if you’re able to drag a large enough selection box around the objects you want without selecting anything extra.
- Use the Scale tool – The Scale tool (S) is a great way to manipulate objects. You can scale groups and components, but also remember that you can scale individual faces, or multiple selections of edges, or faces. You can also scale to a specified dimension, which is really useful when you want to scale an object to a specific dimension. Learn more about what you can do with the Scale tool here.
- Use arrow keys to lock axis – This is one of the most important tips you should know. When moving an object, tap one of the arrow keys on your keyboard to lock movement along an axis. Left = green axis, Right = red axis, Up = blue axis. This is one of the tips I mentioned in 10 SketchUp tips every modeler should know. Alternatively, you can hold SHIFT to lock an axis reference.
- Type in a precise distance AFTER the move – Although you can type in a distance while you’re in the middle of moving an object, I found that I would accidentally bump the mouse and lose my dimension or axis reference. I always prefer to move an object some arbitrary distance along the specified axis I want, then I type in the ACTUAL dimension immediately after.
- Move single points in your model – You can move individual points in your model, you just need to make sure nothing is pre-selected. Tap ESC to deselect any entities, then hover over a point with the Move tool (M), until the inference system snaps to it. (Notice how the Autofold feature kicks in here)
- Merge edges or points together – In SketchUp, no two points or edges can exist in the same space (Within the same group or component). When you overlap them, they simply merge automatically. You can use the Move tool (M) to merge points or edges together.
- Show Hidden Geometry to manipulate hidden entities – If you want to select and move parts of a surface that has hidden edges, turn on Hidden Geometry from the View menu. You’ll then be able to select softened or hidden edges.
- Assign a Keyboard Shortcut to “Hide Rest of Model” – This is an all around very useful trick. “Hide Rest of Model” will temporarily hide everything outside of the active component, and is very useful when you need to reference a point in your group that is obstructed from view by other objects. Learn how to assign custom keyboard shortcuts here.
And as a bonus, here are some rapid fire tips for the Move tool: Activate the Move tool by tapping (M) on your keyboard (If you hadn’t figured that one out already ). Pre-select objects with the Select tool (SPACEBAR), use CTRL and/or SHIFT to select multiple objects.
If you want to learn some more tips and tricks on the Move tool, check out this article on the SketchUp Sage website. It’s pretty cool, it goes over merging geometry, using the move tool to taper objects, and some group selection move examples.