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Google SketchUp plugins for DIYers
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Joy Menze
(catamountain) - M
Google SketchUp plugins for DIYers on 01/03/2008 18:51:59 MST Print View

I posted this list in Chaff, but this may be a better place for DIYers.

This is a round-up of some nice SketchUp plugins and a few 'advanced' techniques that will help with pattern-making. Most downloaded scripts will be placed in the program’s Plugins folder. A few developers will direct you to place their work in the Tools folder. Place the script file(s) as directed and restart the program.

Once you opened the program, most of the scripts can be found under the Plugins menu. However the developers can locate their scripts under any of the menus. (If you don't see the Plugins menu, go to Window > Preferences > Extensions > Ruby Script Examples and check the box.)

Most scripts contain instructions. Open the script in a plain text editor like Notepad to read/edit. Do not use a program like Word. It will introduce extra formatting code that will disable the script. (And if you forget which program menu houses the script, the code for the menu is usually toward the bottom of the text.)

Your favorite plugins can also become keyboard shortcuts, Window > Preferences > Shortcuts.

Since most people here will have the Free version, there's a plugin to readily adjust sun settings Model Location. Pro users have a menu in Window > Model Info > Location.

An aforementioned plugin mentioned in this BPL forum was Soap Skin & Bubble, (and it runs in SU free). The plugin files lives in the program’s Tool folder. The loaded plugin creates a toolbar in the program. Assuming the plugin was installed correctly in the Tools folder, it may need to be ”turned on”. In the program, check Window > Preferences > Extensions > Soap Skin & Bubble. And you may need to check View > Toolbars > Soap Bubble. This it the Pro thread with the most creative applications of SSB. It’s fun and useful for guesstimating tensile structures and adding animated water feature (see above link). It’s not so useful for making flat patterns however. But if the tensile surface is rotated parallel to the xy plane, a script called flatten.rb will at least flatten it. Running flatten destroys the face(s). If that happens just redraw an edge, or better yet use a script called MakeFaces. Some tutorials on flattening a tensile structure. If you want more curvaous surface to a bubble, then do some post-bubble adjustment. That skippy also shows one way of getting complex curvy stuff derived from orthographic views.

Another mesh script is bez-patch, (a repackaged, easier to install zip is toward the bottom of the thread.) And recently a new version has been release. It's available at the Ruby Library Depot site (move bez-patch.rb in the the program's Plugins folder so the script will always load in the Draw menu when SU opens).

The script jf_unfoldtool.rb will unfold dimensional models. That blog contains both the script and a SKP tutorial.

For people who are into catenary curves and such, many equations can be graphed with graphit.rb. But the most recent version of k_tools.rb has more robust graphing features. Search that Ruby API discussion group using the word 'klaudius' for more threads with info about the features in this plugin. Being a freebie - and klaudius did not add any instructions in the script text - you need to dig a little to figure it out. Once the file is deposited in the Plugins folder and the program reloaded, the script is accessible via the Plugins menu.

An excellent SU script repository for SU addicts is the Ruby Library Depot. A copy of bezier.rb and bezierspline.rb lives in the Geometry-Drawing section. Bezierspline is the superior script. It’s a steroid-enhanced version of bezier.rb. Once installed both live in the Drawing menu and bezierspline comes with a toolbar too. Be sure to download the PDF instructions. More instructions live in the downloaded ZIP file too.

I have been collecting copies of all instructive stuff, like the bezierspline instructions, into a folder and drag the folder to the quicklink area of the Windows taskbar. There’s no quick way to store saved text instructions within the program’s Help menu unless they are SKP files. Skippies could be stored in C:\Program Files\Google\Google SketchUp 6\Resources\en-US\selfpacedtutorials and retrieved via Help>Self Paced Tutorials. Now there are some scripts that will collect and organize help documents. The list is found under either the Plugins or Help menu - depending on what the script writer wrote. If you don't like the menu choice, open the script and change it.

Grids also can be useful to help layout full-sized patterns of your SU model patterns. Look for parametic_grid.rb, also at the Ruby Library Depot. After the script is installed, go to Tools>Grid, click out an initial, default grid in any orientation you want (the initial orientation is the only important thing at first). Select the grid, r-click for the context menu and Edit Grid for custom grid size. Another grid script is cgrid.rb. It requires at least SU5 Pro, but many such scripts now also load in SU6 free. I own Pro, so I don’t yet know if it works in free. (This last site has sketchup.rb. DO NOT download it. The program already comes with the script. The SU6 version of sketchup.rb lives in the Tools folder).

Some more layout examples for complex curvy stuff derived from orthographic views see seat back.skp, (it’s one way to make a complex path for SSB) and faucet bit.skp, for complex extruding and for more extruding methods.

For more help, go to some of the SketchUp forums to hunt down or ask specific questions. You can upload images, SKP files, etc to get specific troubleshooting: Google SketchUp Free, Google SU Pro, and Sketchucation.

Sorry about the length, but I really like the program. It's useful.

Addendum: Nudging things around can be annoying. My favorite nudging tool is the Move wizard tool in the free Space Design plugin or its big sister RpTools. The first nudging script that came out was Nudge. It works mainly with the arrow keys. Both tools will nudge groups, components and individual bits of geometry. A third keyboard arrow nudging script is JS MoveTool. That script will allow you to enter different values in the VCB window while it's active.

Some people may like this new unfolding plugin MIT is developing called Waybe. It will unfold SU models and add tabs for 3D paper models.

One of many worth, general purpose scripts is Weld. I know it was mentioned in the linked SU Pro tutorials above. But it's worth mentioning again. As you get into SU, there are many things that weld mades easier. From easy selecting of rewelded lines to helping Follow Me tasks look and work better. It took me a while to warm up to it, but it's one of the nicest, and useful scripts around. I eventually made it a keyboard shortcut, and it became such a go-to feature I almost take it for granted. Say you create a linear path in order to extrude a tubular shape with TubeAlongPath.rb or PipeAlongPath.rb (2 more great scripts at the Ruby Library Depot). If a bunch of seams appear along the length that means the line was not a "polyline". Instead it had several distinct parts. First using the script weld.rb on the path to join the pieces into a polyline before using the tube scripts would result in a smooth-sided tube.

Another great, brand new plugin to extrude uniform wall thickness came out called Joint Push Pull.

Unfortunately you may have to visit many sites to get all available plugins. As of this writing VolumeCalculator2.rb is only available at the Sketchucation forum, while the older versions are at the Ruby Library Depot and the Google SU Pro forum. The script will calculate the volume of an enclosed shape.

Edited by catamountain on 02/09/2008 23:07:45 MST.