I like SketchUp. In case you are not familiar with it, SketchUp is a 3D modeling computer program that is fairly easy to use and best of all it is FREE! I use it for most, but certainly not all of my projects. It was invaluable when I designed the Adjustable Height Workbench and I used it to develop the initial workbench plans for it, too.
One of the things that makes SketchUp so appealing is that there is an abundance of inexpensive and free training material available for it. However, as good as the available training material is, I have seen some pretty mediocre descriptions on how to print scale drawings of your models from SketchUp. This is a shame, because the ability to print precise and accurate full scale drawings of your models is an extremely useful feature! That is why I decided to produce this tutorial.
For this example I will use the model of my tri-pod dolly.
SketchUp will print exactly what is shown on the screen. So, it is important that your screen shows the view that you want to see in your drawing. You “could” just rotate the model around until it looks good. But, there is a better way and this is something that is missing from some of the other Print-to-Scale tutorials.
SketchUp can automatically snap the model to show just one face, and this is more accurate and precise than doing it manually. It is also easier! Here is how to do that:
- Go to the “Camera” drop down menu.
- Hoover your mouse over “Standard Views” and fly-out menu will appear with several options.
- Click on the view/perspective that you want to display in your drawing. When you do this your model will snap to that orientation.
NOTE: Just below “Standard Views” is “Parallel Projection”. Parallel Projection is the default, but it is a good idea to make sure that Parallel Projection is checked.
Once your model is set to the desired perspective then you are ready to set the print parameters.
- Go to the “File” menu and click on “Print Preview”
When you click on the Print Preview button then a Print Preview box will appear. The important part on this is the “Print Size” option box. Three things in that box must be set properly for your drawing to print the way you want it to.
- Make sure that “Fit to Page” is UN-checked
- Make sure that “Use Model Extents” IS checked
- Make sure the “Scale” is set the way you want your drawing to look.
- For a full size drawing put a “1” where it say “In the printout”.
- Then put a “1” in the box where is says “In SketchUp”
- Then click “OK”
If you wanted something different than full scale, say 1/4 scale for example, then you would put a 4 in the “In SketchUp” box.
When you click “OK” you will see something that looks like this. This is the Print Preview Screen, but it might not look quite the way you expected it to. The truth is that SketchUp is not very efficient with paper usage. While developing this article and video I printed this same model from the same perspective several times. Sometimes it took nine sheets of paper, sometimes it took twelve sheets of paper, and sometimes it only needed six. Regardless, the actual image was always dead on accurate and I put all the blank pages back into my printer. The easiest and simplest thing to do now is just hit the print button!
Here is a photo of the six printed pages laid out immediately after printing.
Few printers can print to the very edge of the page. If you look closely at the print you will notice that there is a small margin between the end of the printed lines and the edge of the paper. This margin makes it very difficult to precisely align the pages together.
I remove the margin by cutting right up to the end of the printed lines with a pair of scissors.
This is how the pages looked immediately after I trimmed the margin
Success! This is how the print looked after trimmed the margins and taped the pieces together.
Here is a picture of my camera and tri-pod sitting on the dolly that I made from this SketchUp model.