Sketchup Tutorial LESSON 1: Simple Introduction to Sketchup for Begineers

Those of us who come from an electronics background often find 3D CAD software confusing beyond description. All of our intuition when it comes to drawing or sketching does not seem to work in CAD programs. I think there are several reasons for that. First, as electronic folks, I think we fundamentally think in two dimensions. Hence our intuition in drawing or sketching is probably based on simple programs like powerpoint or draw. To learn how to properly use a 3D design package like sketchup we need to start by forgetting everything we think we know about drawing and to start with a clean slate.

The video above will step you through how to learn some of the simple basics of sketchup. The thing to  realize is that with a CAD program like sketchup, you must be very mindful of your design pallet.  In a program like powerpoint, it more or less guesses whether you are trying to draw, move or resize.  In CAD software, you must explicitly tell it what you want to do by clicking on a tool in the pallet. Hence things that you are accustomed to doing in one step now take two steps. Once you realize this, life gets a lot easier.  The second key thing to realize is that in a sketching program you typically just eyeball in position and dimension, and create objects by more or less eyeball and freehand. In CAD software you must develop the habit and discipline of deliberately setting location and dimension when you create an object. It is very easy to place and size things when you create them, but sometimes much harder to do this later.

Hence the key to using CAD software is to be mindful of using the tool pallet, and to be mindful of carefully setting position and dimension when an object is created.

I am going through these lessons on CAD to try and help you learn how to design things for 3D printers. Far too many owners of 3D printers just download design files from the WEB and never develop any design skill themselves. In this series I hope you learn to both design and make your designs on a 3D printer.

My first try at 3D printing was a nightmare. I got the Makerbot Replicator II and it was a disaster. It never worked properly and really broke my heart. More recently I have been working with Raide3D printers and have been very impressed. If you are interested in a 3D printer, I really recommend Raise 35. You can order there entry level one here:

Or their top of the line one here:

Hope you will consider one of these printers, and hope you will follow along in this new series of tutorials on Sketchup and 3D printing.

5 thoughts on “Sketchup Tutorial LESSON 1: Simple Introduction to Sketchup for Begineers”

  1. Hi Mr.Paul,
    First of all I want to thank you for starting this new series of tutorials. Great stuff, I just don’t see how you find the time to the all of this.
    Ok, so the 3D printers you mention are a bit pricey for me. Any suggestions in the $500 – $600 range? I’m just a teacher in an elementary school on a tight budget. I’ ve been thinking of making a DIY kind of “prusa” like 3-d printer but never had the time nor ‘courage’ to start making one. Any thoughts on that?

    Btw, I noticed you mentioning powerpoint and draw I presume you mean the one from the MS Office packet. Draw is located within Powerpoint (Word etc), like a toolbar am I wrong?
    Sincerely, Vladimir

    1. I really like the prusa. Maybe look into the prusa kit, which is genuine prusa, but you put it together yourself. It is a little more than your budget. I just can not say I have tried a cheaper one that has worked.

  2. Really thank Mr. Paul for the lesson he shared and brought to everyone, including me. After watching the video tutorial on 3D printing technology I really did my job well. Video is very useful. Thank you again!

  3. Hi, Paul. I’d like to thank you for your tutorials. They are well done and easy to follow. I am a ham radio operator (since the 1960’s), a computer enthusiast (having built my own since the late 1970’s, and using both Windows and, and since 1996 Linux/ I have 5 PC’s and now 3 raspberry Pi’s). I have programmed in assembly and basic and am currently in the early stages of trying to teach myself C++. I am retired from the US Forest Service where I put in 41 years, 18 as a civil engineering tech, doing design (road, campground facilities, trail heads, boat launches, etc.), survey and construction inspection and administration, and then from 1988 until I retired as the forest communications specialist designing, installing and maintaining the forests radio system (including solar power for remote radio sites), telephone systems and computer networks. Since electronics was my job for many years it took a back seat as a hobby until I retired. As I started to get into it again I ran across your web site and have spent a lot of time here. I have been through your Arduino, python and Raspberry Pi lessons, and have used arduino’s (and adafruit feather boards) for several radio related projects now, and have a Raspberry Pi set up at our cabin that serves up a web page allowing me to monitor temperature at the cab in, turn on the heat over the web so it is warm when we arrive, and serve as an ftp server for the web cameras I have there so we can see what the weather is like there and decide when we can get in there in the spring. The cameras have motion sensors and save a picture to the Raspberry Pi when motion is detected and I can then check out the pictures from home to see what is roaming around the cabin (deer, elk, chipmonks, squirrels, turkeys, and numerous other birds). You lessons have given me the knowledge I needed to do these projects. I recently decided I needed a new project, and have started through you 3D cad training with the hope of buying a printer someday. I have used cad programs a bit many years ago at work but never became proficient, and have Turbocad which I use at home, but had never played with 3D. I have completed the Sketchup lessons and am about half way through the Fusion 360 lessons, and they are as well done as all of you other lessons. I have no doubt that after completion I will be able to design anything I might want to print out. The only problem I have (which is hard to believe, as I spent many years drafting and envisioning projects in 3 dimensions, and drawing cross sections, etc.) is that I am having trouble getting my mind to picture the planes on the screen in a way that makes the orbit tool work in a way that makes sense. About half the time I get the view so messed up that I have to hit home and start over! Maybe a sign of the 65 year old brain losing it? Oh well, thanks again for all you lessons Paul and hope to see more from you in the future. I’m not sure that I am one of you usual viewers, but for me, the lessons are great. I’d be happy to hear from you, and talk about my experiences if you’d like. I check my Email several time a day, but am not great about using any other social media. (My 22 year old son who Just graduated from Montana State in chemical engineering keeps saying that for someone who spent his life working with technology, I am not into using it at all. Finally got my first cell phone 3 years ago!) Thanks again Paul. Hope to hear from you.

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