4th of 10 Things I Wish I Had Known About SketchUp

Click and Let Go, ClickClick, and ClickClickClick

One thing I plan on emphasizing in this year’s SketchUp classes is using the mouse effectively. Modeling in SketchUp is a very efficient process if you click the right way at the right time, but if you don’t have a good grasp of all the various ways the mouse works, it can be incredibly frustrating. With most programs there isn’t much to remember, and there aren’t any serious consequences if you don’t get it exactly right. In SketchUp, beginners tend to get nervous and hold the mouse button down, click when they don’t mean to, or add an extra click or two. Any of these actions can lead to real confusion, because something strange happens, apparently without a cause. Here are some important things to keep in mind about using the mouse in SketchUp.

For most commands; such as drawing a line, moving or copying something, or extruding with Push/Pull, the command will work two ways. You can click and hold down the mouse button, or click and let go. Click and let go is almost always the better method. Try it and see. Click once, move the mouse in the direction you want to, then either type a number for the distance and hit Enter, or click a second time. That eliminates the risk of moving off axis as you shift your vision from the screen to the keyboard, and the risk of ending the command too soon by inadvertently letting go of the mouse button or clicking too soon.

3 clicks will select this entire box

What happens when you double-click on something depends on what that something is-loose geometry, or geometry that has been combined into a group or a component. If you have a single line, that isn’t connected to any faces, a double-click isn’t any different than a single click, the line is selected and turns blue to let you know.

If you have a face, which is defined by edges, double-clicking on the face will select both the face and the edges. If you have a number of faces and edges that define a three dimensional object, a third click will select the face the cursor is over, the edges surrounding it, and all the other loose geometry attached to those edges. When you have some experience, and you’re adding something in between two existing parts that are components, this is an amazing feature that you will appreciate. As a beginner, it doesn’t make much sense. If you’re a nervous beginner and not aware of how many times you click, it will drive you crazy.

2 clicks will open a component of group for editing

Double-clicking on a group or a component is different than double-clicking on loose geometry. Those two clicks open the group or component for editing. The image at right show a component in this condition. The component is surrounded by a dashed line and the rest of the model is dimmed out. Once again, this is a valuable time-saver when you have some experience. Many beginners however, don’t realize what is going on and end up changing a component (as well as all the other components with the same name) when all they wanted to do was move it or make a copy of it.

One of the best ways I know to get these things to sink in is to move as slowly and deliberately as you can when you are first learning SketchUp. Learn the proper sequence of things, and be sure you’re doing what you intend to do, and before you know it you’ll be modeling at a rapid pace. The way way to become fast is to slow down.

–Bob Lang

Master the basics of 3D Modeling in SketchUp with my new book “Building Blocks of SketchUp”. It’s in enhanced PDF format, 260 pages with 50 embedded videos and a free guide to SketchUp tools.

This is number 4 in a series of 10 posts. You can read the whole series if you click here.


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