How to Present Your Google SketchUp Model with the Walk Tool

A couple tools in Google SketchUp 8 are dedicated to moving around your model as if you were actually walking inside it. The first step is to position yourself so that you seem to stand inside your model. This can be tricky with just the Orbit, Pan, and Zoom tools, so SketchUp provides a tool just for this: Position Camera. After you’re standing in the right spot (and at the right height), you use the Walk tool to move around. It’s as simple as that.

The Position Camera and Walk tools enable you to walk around inside your model.

Standing in the right spot: The Position Camera tool

The Position Camera tool precisely places your viewpoint in SketchUp in a particular spot. That’s really all it does, but it works in two ways.

  • You want to stand right here. Choose Camera, Position Camera from the menu bar and then click anywhere in the modeling window to automatically position your viewpoint 5 feet, 6 inches above wherever you clicked. Because this is the average eye-height of an adult, the result is that you are, for all intents and purposes, standing on the spot where you clicked. After using Position Camera, SketchUp automatically switches to the Look Around tool, assuming that you may want to have a look around.

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    You’re not stuck being five-and-a-half-feet tall forever. After you use Position Camera, type the height you’d rather be and press Enter. Type 18” to see a golden retriever’s view of the world, or type 7’ to pretend you play for the L.A. Lakers. Keep in mind that the Measurements box (the spot in the lower-right corner where numbers appear) displays your eye height as a distance from the ground, and not from whatever surface you’re “standing on.” To set your eye height to be 5 feet above a platform that’s 10 feet high, you’d type 15’.

  • You want your eyes to be right here, and you want to look in this direction. Select Position Camera, click the mouse button while in the spot where you want your eyes to be, drag over to the thing you want to look at (you see a dashed line connecting the two points), and release the mouse button.

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Stepping out with the Walk tool

After you use Position Camera to place yourself in your model, use the Walk tool to move through it.

To walk around, click and drag the mouse in the direction you want to move:

  • Straight up is forward.

  • Straight down is backward.

  • Anything to the left or right causes you to turn while you walk.

The farther you move your cursor, the faster you walk. Release the mouse button to stop.

You can even use the Walk tool to walk up and down stairs and ramps. Keep in mind that the highest step you can climb is 22 inches — anything higher and you get the “bump” cursor, just like you walked into a wall. Also, if you walk off a high surface, you fall to the surface below.

Using modifier keys in combination with the Walk tool makes SketchUp like a video game:

  • Hold down the Ctrl key (Option on a Mac) to run instead of walk.

  • Hold down the Shift key to move straight up like you’re growing, straight down like you’re shrinking, or sideways like a crab.

  • Hold down the Alt key (Command on a Mac) to disable collision detection, which allows you to walk through walls instead of bumping into them.

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