Kitchen Design Plugin for Sketchup, Sketchup training.

Sketchup 7: Texturing just got a little easier!

Sketchup has many textures in it that are shipped right along with the software.  If you want more textures, you can download some Google provided material bonus packs.

I have found that some of the wood textures that are shipped with Sketchup are a little lacking in detail.  I often times will create my own textures from images that I find on the web.  A simple Google image search turns up endless pictures that are ripe for use as wood textures.

In Sketchup 6, you were able to make any image that you found a texture, however if you imported it and you found that the image wasn't quite right, you had to go back out of Sketchup, edit the image, and then start over....  This was frustrating, as sometimes textures looked good until you got halfway through texturing your model and then you found out that in some circumstance they didn't look so good.  Now you had to delete all the textures you had, and start over.

This frustartion is gone in Sketchup 7 now.  The Google team added a nice new feature that hasn't really seen much coverage since the launch of Sketchup 7.  I love this feature, and I use it all the time.

In your "Preferences" in Sketchup on both the Mac and PC, you are now able to specify a default image editor.  What this allows you to do is import a texture, and place it in the model as you always have been able to do.  But now, if you don't like the way the texture looks, say it needs to be cropped, rotated, or touched up, you can do so by right clicking on the texture in the materials browser.  Instantly you favorite image editor is launched, you make the changes you want to make, click save, and before you have a chance to switch windows, all your textures in the Sketchup model are updated!  No need to start over and re-paint everything!

I took some screen shots of this process in action, so you can get an idea of how this works.  For my default image editor, I will be using Google's Picasa photo organizer.  For those of you that think that Google has also shipped me a case of Kool Aid, know this:  I am about as graceful with photo editing software as these dancers.  I find that for the basic things I do to photo textures, like straightening, cropping, and rotating, Picasa works great.  (Its also free too)  However, Sketchup will play nice with any photo application out there, so if you are any good at Photoshop or others, you can probably do this better then I can!

First, get on over to your favorite search engine and find some pictures.  When you find the one you want, save it to your computer, taking note of where you saved it.  (You will need to show Sketchup where this file is when you import it)  As you will see, I picked a particularly ugly wood texture, I did this because its easy to see its imperfections, and what is happening to it as we edit it.  I don't typically design kitchens made out of old sheds!

Next, inside Sketchup, find your "Materials" window.  If this isn't already open, you can find it under the "Window" menu.  When you see the window, click the little house icon.  This will show you what materials are already in your model.  This is where we are going to create the new texture from the image that you just downloaded.  On the PC there is a small plus icon that you can click on to create a new texture, on the Mac you can right click in a blank area and select "New Texture".  You will then be prompted to find that file just downloaded.  Once you do that, it will appear in the list of textures as ones that are "in the model" you can now select that texture and paint it on whatever surfaces you want to.  In my case, I ended up with this:

This isn't exactly what I wanted.  There are a few bad things going on here.  First, the boards are facing the wrong way.  Second, I don't like that big smudge that is in one of the boards, nor do I like the big black line, or the nail holes at the end of each board.  Don't worry, we can fix this easily!  Find the texture again in the materials browser, right click on it, and click "Edit Texture" You will then see a little tray slide out (already pictured above) that allows you to tweak the texture in Sketchup.  Really all you can do here is just change its size.  What we are going to do now is edit it in the photo editor that we setup earlier.  Just to the right of the texture name, there is an orange arrow flying out of a box, click that.  This will load the texture image in your photo editor.

Now that we have this image loaded up in Picasa, I will have another sip of Kool Aid fix this picture the way I want it.

Here you can see that I have rotated the image, and I am cropping it to get rid of the smudge, and the nails.

Here is the image, all cropped and ready to go.  Now all I need to do is click Save, and head back over to Sketchup

And there it is!  Just the way I wanted it.  I did have to stretch it a little higher in Sketchup by changing its height. This can be done in the "Edit texture" tray.  You will see dimensions that you can type in to change the size of your texture.

So now you know how to really make some nice textures in Sketchup.  The really great thing about this feature is that you can do it at anytime.  Even if I had this whole model textured up, and I changed the texture with my image editor just like I showed you here, the whole model would be updated without you having to repaint all your textures!  How cool is that!

If you have a great example of this, please email me your models, I would love to feature them here.