How to Create Simple SketchUp Components

By Aidan Chopra

Creating simple components in SketchUp is a pretty easy process, but making more complicated ones — components that automatically cut openings, stick to surfaces, and always face the viewer — can be a little trickier. Follow these steps no matter what kind of component you’re trying to make.

  1. Select one or more entities you want to turn into a component.

    You can select edges, faces, images, guides, section planes — even other groups and components.

  2. Choose Edit→Create Component.

    The Create Component dialog box opens.

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  3. Give your new component a name and description.

    Of these two, the name is by far the most important. Choose a name that’s descriptive enough that you’ll understand it when you open your model a year from now.

  4. Set the alignment options for your new component.

    Wondering what the heck all this stuff means? It can be confusing the first time. For a quick introduction to each option and tips for using it, check out the following table.

Component Alignment Options
Option What It Does Tips and Tricks
Glue To Makes a component automatically stick to a specific plane. For
example, a chair will almost always sit on a floor. It will almost
never be stuck to a wall, turned sideways. When a component is
glued to a surface, using the Move tool moves it only on that
surface — never perpendicular to it (up and down, if the
surface is a floor).
Use this feature for objects that you want to remain on the
surface you put them on, especially objects you want to rearrange:
Furniture, windows, and doors are prime examples. If you want to
unstick a glued component from a particular surface, right-click it
and choose Unglue from the context menu.
Set Component Axes Sets a component’s axis origin and orientation. This
option is important primarily if you have SketchUp Pro and plan to
make this component into a Dynamic Component. If that isn’t
your plan, you can safely leave this option alone.
Click the Set Component Axes button to choose where you want
your component’s axis origin to be (where the red, green, and
blue axes meet). Click once to center your axes, again to establish
the red direction, and again to establish the green and blue
directions. If you’re creating a Dynamic Component, this is
something you absolutely must know how to do.
Cut Opening For components “in” a surface, select this check box
to automatically cut an opening in surfaces you stick the component
to.
As with premade components, this opening is dependent on the
component’s existence: If you delete the component instance,
the opening disappears. If you move the component instance, the
opening moves too.
Always Face Camera Makes a component always face you no matter how you orbit
around. To make your 2D Face-Me components (that’s what
they’re called) work correctly, rotate your component-to-be
so that it’s perpendicular to your model’s green axis
before you choose Make Component.
Using flat 2D components instead of complex 3D ones is a great
way to have lots of people and trees in your model without bogging
down your computer.
Shadows Face Sun Available only when the Always Face Camera check box is
selected. It is selected by default.
Leave this check box selected unless your Face-Me component
meets the ground in two or more separate places.

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  1. Select the Replace Selection with Component check box if it isn@’t already selected.

    This step drops your new component into your model right where your selected geometry was, saving you from inserting it from the Components dialog box.

  2. Click the Create button to create your new component.

Components can cut through only one face at a time. If your model’s walls are two faces thick, you have to cut your window and door openings manually.