SketchUp’s Projected Texture Method of Adding Texture to Curves

By Aidan Chopra

For painting an image onto a complex curved surface in SketchUp, there’s no substitute for this method. Chunks of terrain are good examples of complex curved surfaces — bumpy, twisted, rippled, and multi-directional. If the curve you’re dealing with is more complicated than a simple extrusion, you need to use this image-mapping technique.

The key is to line up a flat surface with the curved surface to which you want to apply the photo texture. You then “paint” the flat surface with the texture, make it projected, sample it, and finally, paint the curved surface with the projected, sampled texture. Whew.

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Follow these steps to get the basic idea:

  1. Create a flat surface that lines up with your curved surface.

    Use the Line tool and SketchUp’s inferencing system to draw a flat face that lines up with (and is the same size as) the curved surface.

  2. Apply a photo texture to your flat surface and make sure that it’s positioned correctly.

    You can refer to the earlier parts of this chapter for detailed instructions on how to do this.

  3. Right-click the textured face and choose Texture→Projected.

    This ensures that the texture is projected, which is the key to this whole operation.

  4. Hold down the Alt key (Command on a Mac) while using the Paint Bucket tool to sample the projected texture.

    This “loads” your Paint Bucket tool with the projected texture.

  5. Use the Paint Bucket tool without pressing anything on your keyboard to paint the curved surface with the projected texture.

    The photo texture is painted on your curved surface, although the pixels in the image look stretched in some places.

  6. Delete the flat surface that you originally mapped the image to; you don@’t need it anymore.

If you’re trying to do this task on your own curved surface and things don’t seem to be working, your curved surface is probably part of a group or component. Either explode or double-click to edit the group or component before you do Step 5 and see whether that helps.