Creating Your Own Components

By Aidan Chopra

Making a component or a group is like gluing together geometry in your model. Edges and faces that are grouped together act like mini-models inside your main model; you use components and groups to more easily select, move, hide, and otherwise work with parts of your model that need to be kept separate.

Groups are simple conglomerations of edges and faces. Components are basically groups with an all-important, added benefit: changes you make to one instance (copy) of a component automatically apply to all of the other instances in your model. Getting used to using groups and components is the single biggest thing you can do to get better at SketchUp.

Using components is probably the single best SketchUp habit you can develop. Here’s why:

  • Components keep file sizes down. When you use several instances of a single component, SketchUp has to remember the information for only one of them. This means that your files are smaller, which in turn means you have an easier time e-mailing, uploading, and opening them on your computer.

  • Components show in the Outliner. If you’re at all interested in not wasting time hunting for things you’ve misplaced, create lots of components. Doing so means that you can see, hide, unhide, and rearrange them in the Outliner.

  • Components can save your sanity. Hooray! You’ve finished a model of the new airport — and it took only three weeks! Too bad the daylighting consultant wants you to add a sunshade detail to every one of the 1,300 windows in the project. If you made that window a component, you’re golden. If, on the other hand, that window isn’t a component, you’re going to spend a very long night holding hands with your computer mouse.

  • Components can be dynamic. Dynamic Components are components with special abilities. They can be set up with multiple configurations, taught to scale intelligently, programmed to perform simple animations, and more. Anyone can use existing DCs, but only people with SketchUp Pro can create new ones.