How to Scale Profiles to Make Organic Forms by Combining Scale and Push/Pull in SketchUp

By Aidan Chopra, Rebecca Huehls

In SketchUp, you can scale profiles to make organic forms. The method is great because it’s easy to understand and powerful enough to be applied all over the place. The simplest way to use this method is in association with Push/Pull. Here’s a very simple example of how it works:

  1. Create a 2D shape.

    sketchup push/pull tool

    This shape may be something simple (such as a circle) or something more complex; it all depends on what you’re trying to model. The shape may also be a half-shape if what you’re trying to make exhibits bilateral symmetry.

  2. Push/pull your 2D shape into a 3D form.
  3. Scale the new face you created so it’s slightly bigger (or slightly smaller) than the original 2D shape from Step 1.
  4. Push/pull the face you scaled in the preceding step.

    Try to make this extrusion about the same as the one you made in Step 2.

    You can usually double-click a face with the Push/Pull tool to repeat the last Push/Pull operation you did.

  5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 until you’re done.

    You can add skillful use of the Rotate tool into the mix if you like; doing so allows you to curve and bend your form as you shape it.

making organic forms in sketchup
Using Scale and Push/Pull together is a simple way to make organic forms.

Keep the following tidbits in mind as you explore this technique:

  • Watch your polygon count. Polygons are faces, basically — the more you have, the “heavier” your model becomes, and the worse it performs on your computer. Try to minimize the number of faces you’re working with by reducing the number of edges in your original 2D shape.
  • Don’t be afraid to go back and tweak. The beauty of this method is its flexibility. While you’re working, you can select any of the 2D profiles (shapes) in your model and use the Scale tool to tweak them. Just select the loop of edges along the perimeter of the profile you want to scale and take it from there. Here’s an example of how you can tweak a shape by scaling.
sketchup scale profile
You can go back and scale any profile at any time while you work.