SketchUp is one of the most popular 3D modeling software used in architecture. The interface is pretty straightforward which makes it easy to use engineers, designers and architects to accomplish what they need. SketchUp’s limited interface and ease of use does kind of restrict its abilities in its basic setup. As work starts to get a bit more complicated designers are going to require some advanced tools to accomplish what is needed.
This is where SketchUp plugins or extensions come in to play. These extensions have been created by Sketchups most experienced users that have discovered the shortcomings of the basic SketchUp tools and decided to create some advanced tools of their own. That means anyone can write SketchUp extensions to customize the software. It is now essential that designers use these extensions in order to save time, automate processes and gain new capabilities to get the most out of the Sketchup program.
Top Sketchup Plugins for Architecture (BIM)
- Selection Toys – Provides a wide range of selection modifiers, filter out all edges, faces etc. Let you quickly select entities with similar properties such as material, layer orientation etc. Also let you select similar instances of the same Dynamic
- CleanUp3 – Checks and simplifies the geometry of your SketchUp model. It combines multiple faces, eliminates extraneous data, and erases any lines that don’t make a face.
- BezierSpline – A set of tools to create a variety of Polylines, Bezier and Spline curves, all in 3D. SketchUp does not come with a good option for this, Bezier Spline allows you to create these curves with ease by utilizing the almost 13 tools in the palette.
- Layers Panel – Designed to be very similar to Photoshop’s layers panel. It adds the ability to group layers, sort them, lock them, hide/collapse groups, etc. It saves layer states that can be labeled, recalled and applied to other scenes. It can manage the visibility setting of new layers in other scenes.
- DropGC - Drop selected groups/components onto geometry below. Useful for getting entourage (cars, people, plants, etc.) onto topo surfaces.
- Edge Tools² - Suite of tools to simplify edges, close gaps, cleanups and more. Very useful when generating terrain from imported site plans. The Epsilon value asked for is how much the simplified curve is allowed to deviate from the original.
- StrayLines – This plug-in works with open-ended line segments. If a line endpoint does not touch another entity, then it is considered a “stray line”. There are 4 options to choose from to work with stray lines with this tool: Label, Select, Delete, Show Only.
- Solid Inspector² - Inspect and repair solids in SketchUp. Select a group or component and activate the tool for an analysis of what would prevent it from being a solid manifold.
- Fredo Tools - Groups a number of my standalone plugins. By delivering them as a single package, it reduces the footprint on Sketchup and avoids individual installation of each plugin.
- TopoShaper – Generates Terrains from iso-contours, that is, contours which have a constant or quasi-constant altitude. TopoShaper generates beautifully even terrains based on quads which will look excellent in any application you may wish to render them.
- Artisan – Subdivision, sculpting, and soft selection tools for artists, designers and landscape architects. With powerful subdivision, sculpting, and soft selection tools, Artisan is ideal for creating:
- Terrain and landscapes
- Abstract sculptures and decorative objects
- Fabric, curtains, and pillows
- Rocks, Trees, and Plants
- FredoScale - With FredoScale you can orientate the selection box around a set of objects and interactively apply a number of geometric transformations, such as Scaling, Tapering, Stretching, Plane Shear, Twisting, Bending and Rotation.
- Joint Push Pull Interactive - Performs push pull on multiple faces in one operation. JPP can maintain the continuity of the offset surfaces (mode joint push pull). This is useful to thicken nonplanar surfaces.
- Extrude Tools - A tool to help create clean geometry in the early stages of the modeling process. It is much like the Push/Pull tool except that it will create a loop of edges at the start of the operation. The advantage of the extrude tool is that it will not create interior faces like the Push/Pull tool does.
- CurviLoft - Generate Surfaces from curves by Lofting and Skinning.
Please feel free to add your favorite SketchUp extensions in the comment section below: