Adding Photo Textures to Curved Surfaces in SketchUp

By Aidan Chopra

Notice how the title of this section ends with surfaces and not with faces? That’s because (as you know by now) individual faces in SketchUp are always flat — no exceptions. When you see a non-flat surface, it’s actually made up of multiple faces. You can’t see the edges between them because they’ve been smoothed.

Choosing View→Hidden Geometry exposes all curved surfaces for what they really are.

How you go about mapping an image to a curved surface in SketchUp depends on what type you have. With that in mind, curved surfaces fall into two general categories:

  • Single-direction curves: A cylinder is a classic example of a surface that curves only in one direction. In SketchUp, a cylinder is basically a series of rectangles set side by side. Most curved walls you see on buildings are the same way; they don’t taper in or out as they rise.

    Another way to think about single-direction curves is to consider how they might have been made. If the curved surface you’re staring at could be the result of a single push/pull operation (such as turning a circle into a cylinder), there’s an excellent chance it’s single-direction.

    For mapping an image to a single-curve surface, you can use the Adjacent Faces method; it works well and doesn’t stretch your image.

  • Multi-direction curves: Terrain objects, saddles, and curtains are all prime examples of surfaces that curve in more than one direction at a time. They’re always composed of triangles — never basic rectangles.

    To map an image to this type of curved surface, you must use the Projected Texture method.