The Interact Tool and SketchUp’s Dynamic Components

By Aidan Chopra

Activate the Interact tool by choosing it from the Tools menu. Using this tool couldn’t be simpler: When a dynamic component (DC) is set up to react to the Interact tool, it does stuff when you click it. Its actions depend on what you’ve programmed it to do.

Check out the truck shown; it’s been designed to react to the Interact tool in a few ways:

  • Clicking the back of the truck cycles through the following options: box, flatbed, or flatbed with rails.

  • Clicking the front wheels turns them from side to side.

  • Clicking the doors makes them open and close.

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When you’re hovering over a DC that’s been connected to the Interact tool, your cursor (it was originally called the Magic Finger) glows a little yellow at the end.

You can’t know which interactions you can use with any particular DC just by looking at it. If you know you’re dealing with a DC, the best way to figure out what it does is to experiment:

  • Select it and open Component Options to see whether anything’s there.

  • Hover over it with the Interact tool to see whether a glow appears at the end of your cursor.

  • Click it with the Select tool to show its scale grips (little green boxes). If any show up, grab one and scale to see what happens. If none show up, your DC can’t be scaled with the Scale tool.

Groups can be dynamic, too. Deep down in the basement of SketchUp’s programming, groups and components are pretty much the same thing — groups are just components that behave differently. This means that a group can be assigned dynamic capabilities.

What does this matter to you? Not much, but it’s good to know, especially if you plan to build your own DCs with SketchUp Pro.

DC-creation is tricky, and the extra room that cyberspace affords means more images, color images, and direct links to working examples in the 3D Warehouse.