18 Great Scripts for Modeling in SketchUp
SketchUp enables you to add scripts that extend what the program can do. In the following sections, you find super-helpful scripts for modeling compiled into a few super-helpful lists. (But before you can use the scripts, you'll need to know how to install Ruby Plugins.)
Scripts for cleaning up imported CAD geometry
If you routinely import 2D CAD drawings to use as a starting point for SketchUp models, you need these scripts. Without going into any detail, here's a list of the CAD cleanup scripts to hunt for on Smustard.com:
Also, at SketchUp.com, check out the Simplify Contours Tool. Sometimes contours (topography lines) you import from a CAD file are very complex. Running this script on the contours reduces their complexity, which makes the terrain that you use the contours to generate easier to work with.
Scripts for reshaping existing geometry
When you need to bend, twist, smooth, or slice your 3D model, these scripts can help:
CFL Shape Bender lets you bend (and stretch) a 3D shape along a path you designate. Everything from spiral ramps to fancy retail signage just got a heck of a lot easier. Read more about Shape Bender on the Official SketchUp Blog.
FredoScale adds the ability to taper, twist, bend, and stretch 3D objects in a way you'd never be able to with plain ol' SketchUp. Read more about FredoScale on the Official SketchUp Blog.
RoundCorner turns sharp edges and corners into smooth rounds and fillets. This plugin shaves literally hours off the time it takes to model almost any manufactured product. This post on the Official SketchUp Blog talks about RoundCorner in more detail.
Slicer cuts a model into even, parallel slices. It's indispensable for turning 3D terrain into easy-to-make site models. For details about how this script works, read this post on the Official SketchUp Blog.
Scripts for creating new geometry from existing lines and shapes
When you need to connect or add to existing geometry in your SketchUp 3D models, see whether these scripts can lend you a hand:
Curviloft: If you model a lot of organic shapes, you'll love this script. It connects one 2D face to another, different 2D face. The script can also twist and turn the splines that connect the two shapes. For example, smoothly connecting a simple circle to a square by hand would be tricky, but this script makes it a snap ( . . . er, a click?).
When you consider all the possible shapes you could connect, you'll begin to imagine all the shapes this tool enables you to create — without overtaxing your mousing muscles. For a peek at what you can do with Curviloft, check out this blog post on the Official SketchUp Blog.
Make Fur: Lets you "grow" fur — or grass — on faces in your models. This script is more fun, and more useful, than you'd think. You can read more about Fur Maker on the Official SketchUp Blog.
Joint Push Pull: Wouldn't it be great if you could push/pull curved surfaces to give them thickness? With this plugin, you can. Even better, it comes with great documentation when you download it.
Soap Skin & Bubble: Make a loop of connected edges, activate this Ruby script, and watch in amazement as it automatically "stretches" a surface over them (think circus tent). You can even apply pressure to inflate your new tensile structure right before your eyes.
Weld: Takes edges you've selected and welds them together to make a single edge that you can select with a single click. This is super handy when you use Follow Me.
Scripts for drawing and creating new geometry
Tools On Surface enables drawing tools — Line, Offset, Circle, Rectangle, and Freehand — to draw directly on non-flat surfaces like terrain.
If you model commercial buildings, check out Windowizer. With this script, you can create storefront windows much more quickly than you can manually. Wicked powerful.
SmartDrop takes a bunch of groups or components that you've selected and drops them down in the blue direction until each hits a surface. If you're trying to populate a sloping hillside with trees, it's much easier to make a big, flat grid of them in the air and then SmartDrop them to meet the ground.