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NURBS in SketchUp

24 May

I have heard that SketchUp doesn’t do complex forms like Rhino or Form*Z. I have also watched architects painfully modify simple forms to create complex forms and sites. In the old versions of SketchUp, there was an option for a Sandbox Toolbar. This toolbar allowed for several landscape/site modelling. Mos notably creating forms from contours. In the new versions you have to add the toolbar.

To enable the sandbox tools:

  • Open the Extensions Manager (Window > Preferences > Extensions on Microsoft Windows or SketchUp > Preferences > Extensions on Mac OS X).
  • Select the checkbox next to the extension that you want to enable.
  • Click OK.

To create complex forms, NURBS, in SketchUp you can use these Sandbox Tools. Here is how:

  • Create 3 lines.
  • Select the lines
  • Click From Contours.




Of course, the crazier the form, the more difficulty you will have cleaning it up. But SketchUp does a much better job than most people would suspect.

Here is a good example for site work using the Sandbox Tools. I saw this in a book some time ago but cannot remember the title.

I have a walkway and a small wall and I would like there to be grassy hills between them. Draw another line along the walkway edge and the hills against the wall.

Now Select the two lines and use the from contours tool again.

Then paint some grass.

I am not a SketchUp pro, but it is fun and quick to use sometimes. Hopefully, this will help make your life a little easier and model a little faster.