How to Model Terrain from Scratch in Google SketchUp 8 - dummies

How to Model Terrain from Scratch in Google SketchUp 8

By Aidan Chopra

When modeling in Google SketchUp, you may need to create terrain. Whether you’re modeling a patch of ground for a building or redesigning Central Park, you can model terrain from scratch. You don’t have to have contour lines to get started.

Without contour lines that define the shape of the terrain you want to model, you have to start with a level surface. Use the From Scratch tool to create a big, flat rectangle that represents a chunk of ground. Because the rectangle is already divided into triangular faces, it’s easy to use the Smoove tool (which lets you shape terrain by pushing and pulling bumps and depressions) to shape the rectangle into hills, valleys, sand traps, and whatever else you have in mind.


  1. Choose Draw, Sandbox, From Scratch from the menu bar to activate the From Scratch tool.

  2. Type a grid spacing amount and press Enter.

    The default grid spacing amount is 10 feet, which means the tool draws a rectangle made up of squares that are 10 feet across. The grid spacing you choose depends on how big an area you’re planning to model and how detailed you plan to make the terrain for that model.

  3. Click to position one corner of your new terrain surface where you want it.

  4. Click to determine the width of the surface you’re drawing.

  5. Click to establish the length of your new terrain surface.

    When you’re done, the great big rectangle you’ve created will automatically be a group. Double-click with the Select tool to edit it and good luck. You’ll probably decide to use the Smoove tool next.