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Chomie March 21, 2012 09:27 PM

TUTORIAL: Google Sketchup for Computer Modding (Feedback?)
**Heavy Editing Needed and structure... Just getting a basic idea out there then will modify and refine!**

So I have received feedback that a Google Sketchup Tutorial would be useful so I am going to start a
thread that I will continue to update and will mark as complete down the road!

If there's any parts that seem unclear or need more instruction tell me and I'll update it!

Google Sketchup: A Tutorial for Computer Modding
By Chomie

Google Sketchup is a 3D modeling program that allows the designer (yourself) to design practically anything,
by connecting lines and shapes together then "push/pulling" them to create 3D objects.

As far as computer modding is concerned, by taking "components" already drawn by other people and
connecting them together, we essentially build a 3D image of our design which we can then modify to
specifications that allow us to see if such a build is possible before implementing.

Below are links for Google Sketchup as well as the Google Sketchup computer components:
1) Google Sketchup
2) Sketchup Computer Components
3) Sketchup 3D Warehouse **For other drawings**

I'll leave it up to you to download, install, and open Sketchup, once its open you should have a screen like this: http://img215.imageshack.us/img215/3669/26305391.jpg

Setting up Google Sketchup
Once Google Sketchup is open, there are a view things to change with the toolbars since not all of them are needed:

1) Go into the "View" tab at the top of Sketchup, highlight "Toolbars" and make sure the following have check marks:



Sketchup Tools
"Tools" is the term used to describe the different functions in Sketchup. Obviously each tool has a specific task and I'll highlight the one's that are important to us.

I'll start with this reference sheet provided by Google Sketchup themselves, red boxes are the focus:


The tools I have focused on are all you need (I think) to implement a computer mod. The right side of the reference sheet explains what each one does so I won't go into details although I will give a brief list of useful short cuts (Already seen on the reference sheet) (Sorry Mac user's it might be different for you)
  • Select (Space Bar)
  • Line (L)
  • Circle (C)

    Move (M)
  • Rotate (Q)
  • Orbit (O)
  • Pan (H)

Mouse Shortcuts (Requires Scroll Wheel Mouse):
  • Scroll Up/Down (Zoom In/Out)
  • Scroll Wheel Pushed In (Orbit)
  • Scroll Wheel Pushed In + Shift key (Pan)

**The mouse shortcuts will make your life a million times easier so practice and perfect the use of using your scroll wheel you'll thank me later**

**Note that the shortcuts don't have to be used for the "tools" you can just select them from the toolbar**

Important Notes about Google Sketchup
1)Since we'll be dealing with already constructed components the file size is going to get LARGE
like 70MB large depending on the detail of your components, so make sure you put your file with
a lot of space (Probably not on your ssd if it's small)

2)You'll find as more components are brought into your build, the slower Sketchup will run (For me anyways as I'm using an ASUS G51J Laptop with a GTS 360M video card and 12GB of ram =) )

But the point is if at any time you find that you are about to rotate the component and Sketchup freezes and won't let you move your cursor, then all of the sudden (Not Responding) show's up at the top of your screen **RELAX** wait for Sketchup to catchup to you and continue... It can get pretty laggy so if your impatient you'll probably end up throwing your computer in the garbage... (This also applies to times when the components just aren't working together! The more time invested the better the result.)

3) If you are experiencing lag in Sketchup try modifying your graphics settings for this application (Sketchup) In Windows 7 I right click and go to NVIDIA Control Panel, manage 3D settings, then adjust "the program to customize (Sketchup)" to optimize performance rather than quality.

Basic Building!
Okay now that I've gone through the fluffy stuff it's time to start building!! I will be using a similar concept to my already built concept found in this forum but I won't build the whole thing I'll just take key concepts of how to do each thing, how to work around things, how to do water tubing, and to paint components... This is going to get long maybe I'll break it into basic's, intermediate, and advanced sections??

Any how as we go along I'll show you the different views, how to isolate components, layers, hidden objects, sorry this is more for me to remember to talk about in the future but it'll all be included eventually!

So here is what we're aiming to achieve:


Downloading Components
Components are the parts such as motherboards and cases that we use to build our computer in Sketchup

Start by going to our Components Website

The site is called "The Sketchup Components Collection" and has a sidebar describing the parts we'll be using to build.

Click on the Cases tab --> Standard --> Tower/Desktop

Inside you'll find a variety of real cases that are scaled pretty accurately
I'll be using the Coolmaster Haf932 Case in this tutorial

Click on your desired case and it will automatically download to your web browsers "download" file (For Google Chrome any ways)

Once downloaded, locate your file:

Find Sketchup's Components folder located here:

Local C: --> Program Files --> Google Sketchup --> Components

Double click the Components folder so your inside it

Copy and paste your case component from "downloads" into your "components" folder and we're heading back into Sketchup!

A Quick word about navigation
As seen before, when Sketchup is opened we are faced by a blank workspace with blue, green, and red isometric lines which represent our X, Y and Z axis.

Lets explore navigating in this work space before bringing in our first component:

Inside the Sketchup screen, if you move your mouse you will see an icon representing your mouse (most likely a pencil)

Now if you were to press your "scroll wheel" you will see that icon will change to a dual arrowed sphere, this is showing that you have the "ORBIT" navigation tool selected. Keeping your scroll wheel pressed and moving your mouse the axis (Blue, Green, Red lines) will start to move depending on your direction (Up, Down, Left, Right)

This is precisely what the orbit tool does, moves up, down, left or right

**Note: The direction your mouse moves is linked to the point you selected on your screen, in other words you are moving up, down, left, right around the point selected on your screen.

Now still holding your scroll wheel down, hold the "Shift" key on your keyboard and you will see that the icon changes to a Hand.

When you move the mouse (Holding the scroll wheel down, and shift key down) you can now move up, down, left, right but your not fixed at a certain point, you are "panning"

The last, but important navigator is zoom. This is simply accomplished by "scrolling" your scroll wheel up or down to zoom in or out.

**Note: The zoom tool zooms into the point you are point at

Try to match the below image by lining up blue and green axis and having the red line run horizontal along the bottom of your screen like this:


This is easily accomplished by using "Pan" and "Orbit" to move the axis into position

Bringing your first component into Sketchup
Finally we've made it to actually starting our design!

To find our component that was downloaded about we go here:

In Sketchup: Windows --> Components


Once clicked you'll see a "Components" box appear on your screen, this is a list of all of the components found in your Google Sketchup Components where our first file is located.

**Note: This box will stay open unless you hit the red "x" at the top of the page, if you close it you can find it again by going to the "Windows" tab at the top of the screen and clicking on components

**Note: Every time you add a component to you Components folder you must update your component box, this is simply done by clicking the arrow beside the little house and clicking components:


Now let's bring our first component into Sketchup!

In the Components box scroll until you find your case name mine is labelled: CoolerMaster_haf_932

Click on the name and once Sketchup loads the component you'll see a floating case that follows your cursor around:


Now the idea of the axis are to represent planes (flat infinite areas, a work bench if that's easier to picture)

So lets set our case on our "Workbench" by moving the cursor to the "origin" (where the three lines meet) (A yellow sphere will appear in the middle showing the origin) and then click once to set our case component:


The blue box around our case shows the "boundaries" of the component, which is pretty much the work space of the creator of the component

Since our component is quite far away and on a funny angle, let us zoom in (Scroll up with the cursor over top of the case) and orbit/pan to turn the case like this:


Now when components come off the internet, the creator merges all of the pieces into a finished product. Since we are wanting to manipulate this finished product we want to "explode" the components, this is done by using the explode feature.

Right click on your case and a list of options come up

Click on the "Explode" tab:


You'll now see that our blue box has shrunk:


This has "detached" our case from the rest of the workspace, but not from itself!
To break the parts of the case apart (aka open the case) we must "explode" the case once more

You will now notice that only a section of the case is highlighted in blue:


We have successfully broken the case into components!

Selecting and Moving
Now that we have a case that we can work with it is time to open it up!

Introducing the "Select" tool. Any time you want to work on a component you are best off selecting it first. This is easily done by hitting SPACEBAR which will bring up a black arrow icon

Try selecting different parts of the case you will see it is made up of several pieces that have been formed together. Each one of these sections can be broken down further until only lines exist but we'll deal with that later.

The move tool is probably the most important tool you'll use for Sketchup since it is used to "move" everything into its proper position.

Using the select tool (spacebar) click on the side panel of the case:

Hit the "M" key on the keyboard and a four arrowed icon appears this is the move icon.

If you move the icon around the edges of the side panel you will see different points of interest like Midpoint in component, on edge of component, on face of component.

These are pretty straight forward concepts that describe where about your icon is on a certain component.

If you now click on the side panel, it will become a free moving object that can be moved in any such direction.

A reference dotted line shows you where you are moving the component compared to where you clicked when you went to move it.

If a red, blue or green dotted line appear, this means that you are parallel to your reference axis which are important for lining components up.

Let us follow the red axis dotted line and pull the side panel back a far distance so it will not interfere with our views inside the case:

**Note: Realize that our navigation is still available while our side panel is selected! Holding the scroll wheel still allows us to orbit, scroll+shift lets us pan, and we can still zoom in and out, use these to put the panel here (Click once to set side panel where you like it):


An important note is that once we click and place our side panel it is still SELECTED (blue highlights) this means that if we go to move our case "M" key with the side panel still selected we will actually be moving the side panel with respect to the case position!

This is why SELECTION is so important! To go back to our case hit "SPACEBAR" and click on the case:


Then scroll zoom with your cursor over the case to bring the case in close:


A quick note is if you have the "select" tool open (spacebar) and click on the space beside the case your blue highlights will disappear. This means nothing is selected and is useful when you want to view what your design is looking like, or if your trying to work or a certain piece.

Also see that by click on "lines" on the case different sections may be highlight this means that not everything in the case is connected and allows for further disassembly.

Adding Components to your case
Now that we have our case disassembled we can start to add components!

Let us start with a power supply:

From our Component Site I will select Power Supplies from the side --> Corsair AX1200

Then download it, take it from my download folder and put it into my Sketchup Components Folder and then refresh my components list in Sketchup (See Bringing your first component into Sketchup for a refresher)

After selecting my PSU from the Components list it will be a floating object that can be dragged through your case and set anywhere in your work space

Let us scroll out, pan down, orbit a little and place our PSU in front of our case:


Notice that our PSU (Power Supply just in case no one knows that abbreviation) is now selected (Blue highlighted box)

Now it looks pretty good but we notice that our PSU fan would make more sense rotated to take advantage of our case's bottom grill, so lets use the rotation tool.

Rotating Components
The Rotation tool is located on our toolbar below the move tool, or we can simply press "Q" (why not R? not sure) as a shortcut key.

Once pressed our icon changes to a 360 degree protractor. Moving the protractor onto a face of our PSU and click once allows us to rotate the component in a certain direction, I'll leave it up to you to figure out which face rotates what direction.

For now, navigate to this position and notice that your protractor turns green when placed on the face where your modular connections would be plugged in:


Now depending on the component it is usually better to rotate along an edge of the blue box since you know these edges will be parallel or perpendicular to one of our red, blue or green reference axis which allow us to keep the parts aligned with one another

Place your protractor on one of the edges of the PSU and click once, you will notice again that a dotted reference line appears with respect to where you click on the PSU

This is the line that provides a reference to what you want to rotate to (ie. another component or one of the reference axis)

For us we'll use the red axis as our reference:


With the dotted red line as our reference, click once more and the PSU is free to rotate 360 degrees (Around the green axis) --> This is why the protractor turned green, we're rotating around that axis.

Now notice as your rotate the component, it "snaps" into place every 90 degrees, when this happens it means that you are "aligned" with one of our reference axis

Since we want a 180 degree rotation to get the fan of the PSU on the bottom go ahead and turn 180 until it "snaps" back onto the red axis:


Click once more and the PSU will be released by the protractor staying in the 180 degree flipped positon

Rotation complete!

Combining Components
Now that our PSU is flipped we now want to get it into its postion.

This can be quite challenging as we are working in 3D space, but only seeing in 2D, so when we place an object in may look correctly seated from one direction but off by a lot another direction.

The trick is to work with the edges of the components and get really good and orbit and panning to place the sucker where you want it:


So starting with this view, we can see that if we change the angle of the view our PSU is floating in space:


To get this floating PSU into our case we want to work with it's lower edge since this is the edge that will be in contact with the case.

With the "Move" tool position your view to enable you to grab the lower right hand face of the psu:


With the edge selected orbit and pan (scroll wheel navigation) until you can see the inside of the case, then move the psu until it start's going into the other side of the case:


Click to release the move tools reference point

Navigating to a front view, move the bottom edge down so the PSU touches the bottom of the case:


Click to release the move tool

Now navigate to the back and perform the move once more with the bottom edge:


And we get the finished results:





Chomie March 21, 2012 09:27 PM

Intermediate Topics
Intermediate Stuff will go here

Chomie March 21, 2012 09:28 PM

Advanced Topics
Advanced stuff will go here

Mena March 22, 2012 01:24 PM

I think my mind just blew up....still a little complicated for me. LOL!!!!

Will still try though.

Chomie March 22, 2012 02:46 PM

I'm just starting to work on a walk through now! Everything on there now is just preamble it'll be a solid picture work though in three stages: Building a simple air cooled model (basic), modifying the case (intermediate), adding water cooling (advanced)

stayed tuned!

sasikanth8 September 11, 2013 08:16 AM

Awesome :thumb:
Looking forward for intermediate and advanced stuff.

SKYMTL September 11, 2013 08:45 AM

I have to admit I missed this thread. AWESOME!

Chomie September 13, 2013 03:08 PM

Thanks SKYMTL! I ran out of time to complete this tutorial but glad it is getting noticed :)

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