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How to Model with the Scale Tool in Google SketchUp 8

New Google SketchUp users assume that Scale is for resizing things in your model. That’s technically true, but most folks only use it to resize whole objects; the real power of Scale happens when you use it on parts of objects to change their shape.

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The basic principle of this technique is pretty simple: You select the geometry (edges and faces) in your model that you want to resize, activate the Scale tool, and go to town.

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  1. Select the part of your model that you want to scale.

  2. Activate the Scale tool by choosing Tools, Scale from the menu bar.

    You can also make Scale active by clicking its button on the toolbar or by pressing the S key on your keyboard. After you activate Scale, the geometry you selected in Step 1 should be enclosed in a box of little green cubes, or grips.

  3. Click a grip and then move your mouse to start scaling your selected geometry.

  4. When you’re finished scaling, click again to stop.

While on the subject of Scale, here are a few more things you should know:

  • Use different grips to scale different ways. Which grip (the little green boxes that appear when you activate the Scale tool) you use determines how your geometry scales:

    • Corner grips scale proportionally.

    • Edge and side grips distort your geometry as you scale.

  • Hold down the Shift key to scale proportionally.

  • Hold down the Ctrl key (Option on a Mac) to scale about the center of your selection.

  • Type a scaling factor to scale accurately. To scale by 50 percent, type 0.5.

  • Which grips appear depend on what you’re scaling.

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  • You can’t make a copy while you scale. Both the Move and Rotate tools let you make copies by holding down a button on your keyboard while you’re using them, but Scale doesn’t work this way, unfortunately.

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