Exporting Google SketchUp 8 Images for Print - dummies

Exporting Google SketchUp 8 Images for Print

By Aidan Chopra

To make a decent-sized print of your exported Google SketchUp image, it needs to contain enough pixels per inch of image. An image’s pixel density, expressed in pixels per inch (ppi), is its resolution. What kind of resolution you need depends on three things:

  • The kind of device you print to: For home inkjet printers, you can get away with a resolution of as little as 150 ppi. If your image will be appearing in a commercially produced book, you need a resolution of at least 300 ppi.

  • How far away the image will be from the audience: There’s a big difference between a magazine page and a trade-show banner. For close-up applications, a resolution of 200 to 300 ppi is appropriate. Large graphics that will be viewed from several feet away can be as low as 60 ppi.

  • The subject matter of the image: For images with lots of lines like SketchUp models, it’s best to work with very high resolutions, especially if the image will be viewed close-up.

Recommended Resolutions for Prints
How the Image Will Be Used Image Resolution (Pixels/Inch) Image Resolution (Pixels/Centimeter)
8.5-x-11 or 11-x-17 inkjet or laser print 200 to 300 80 to 120
Color brochure or pamphlet 300 120
Magazine or book (color and shadows) 300 120
Magazine or book (linework only) 450 to 600 180 to 240
Presentation board 150 to 200 60 to 80
Banner 60 to 100 24 to 40

Keep in mind that the biggest raster image that SketchUp can export is 10,000 pixels wide or tall (whichever is greater). This means that the largest banner image, printed at 100 ppi, that SketchUp can create is about 100 inches wide. To make larger images, you need to export a vector file.

Follow these steps to make sure that you export enough pixels to print your image properly:

  1. In the Export Options dialog box, make sure that the Use View Size check box is deselected.

  2. Decide on the resolution that you need for your exported image.

  3. Decide how big your exported image will be printed, in inches or centimeters.

  4. Multiply your resolution from Step 2 by your image size from Step 3 to get the number of pixels you need to export:

    Resolution (pixels/in or cm) x Size (in or cm) = Number of pixels

    In other words, if you know what resolution you need to export, and you know how big your image will be printed, you can multiply the two numbers to get the number of pixels you need.

    SketchUp’s default setting is to make your exported image match the proportions of your modeling window; that is, you can type only a width or a height, but not both. If you’re on a Mac, you can manually enter both dimensions by clicking Unlink (which looks like a chain). You can always click it again to relink the width and height dimensions later.


  5. Type the width or height of the image you want to export, in pixels.

    If you’re on a Mac, things are a little easier because SketchUp’s designers built a pixel calculator into the Export Options dialog box. Just enter your desired resolution in the appropriate spot, change the Width and Height units from pixels to inches or centimeters, and type your desired image size. SketchUp does the arithmetic for you.

  6. Click OK to close the Export Options dialog box.