Help support TMP

Experimenting with SketchUp

Back to Workbench

MajorOrk writes:

I am desperate to find anyone who has made Sketchup files of K'nex pieces, the building toy! There are a lot of LEGO pieces folks have made in Sketchup (even with LDraw available) but I need K'nex.


Revision Log
23 February 2007page first published

Areas of Interest


Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Link

Featured Ruleset

Toying With Destruction

Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star 

Featured Showcase Article

The QuarterMaster Table Top

Need 16 square feet of gaming space, built to order?

Featured Profile Article

Introducing Editor Katie

Our newest staff editor introduces herself.

Current Poll

16,045 hits since 23 Feb 2007
©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

I was on the forums the other day, musing about the virtual terrain tool that I wished I had, when Ran The Cid said:

What about SketchUp? It's free from Google & was rather popular over at the Hirst boards for a while.

I'd never heard of SketchUp, so I decided to download the free version and give it a shot.


This software is a 3D design tool, but doesn't think of itself as a drafting (CAD) program. After watching the tutorials, I was quickly able to make myself a virtual battleboard:


All I did was draw a rectangle (scaled to 6 feet by 8 feet), and use the push/pull tool to "lift" the surface up 2 inches to make a 3D shape. Then I added 1-foot gridlines (there's probably a better way to do this....), and applied textures. (I did have to edit the texture settings, as the default size is too large and you get giant blades of grass!)

So I thought - wow, this is easy. Let's do hills!

It was simple to draw a circle and pull it vertically, to make a short, wide cylinder. However, I wanted to put a slope on the side of the hill. Nothing I tried worked, and nothing in the tutorials or documentation seemed to explain what I wanted. Finally, I ran into a vague reference to making cones, and realized that what I was trying to make was a truncated cone - but how to make a cone? I found a users group online, and searched their archives... aha!

Hill bottom

The secret to making sloped hills is to draw the bottom outline (the round part)...

Hill crosssection added

...then to draw a vertical crossection. Then there's this tool called Follow Me that takes two 2D faces and "extrudes" a 3D shape - the hill!

The hill

It was much simpler to make some straight road and river pieces - although I did make one mistake the first time through. I'd made the road piece flat - no vertical height - and found that the road didn't always display properly. The solution was to add just a fraction of space between the road and the piece bottom.

River piece
Road piece

Obviously, a terrain library needs more pieces than these (some curved rivers and road intersections would be nice), but I've explored enough to see that this software has merit...