How to Do a Pipe Layout With a Sketchup
By Daniel Ketchum
Updated September 28, 2017
SketchUp is a free 3D CAD modeling program offered by Google. It is often used for creating models of houses, buildings and other architectural structures. These models can then be used for business or architectural presentations or exported for sale to graphic artists and animators who use them to create rendered images or videos. In many 3D modeling programs, one of the more difficult tasks is adding any pipes that you need in the building model. Fortunately, Google SketchUp comes with an innovative function that makes this process ridiculously quick and simple.
Open Google SketchUp. Select “File” from the menu and click “Open.” In the dialog box that pops up, browse to the file you have been working on and open it. (See Resources to download SketchUp.)
Select the primary model itself in the view. Since you will be placing the pipes inside the building, you need to hide it for the time being. Click on “Windows” and click “Layers.” In the dialog box that pops up, click on the “New Layer” icon. Select the new layer. Then turn off the visibility of the other layers.
Select the “Line” tool from the toolbar. Use it to draw the lines for the pipes. Hold down the middle mouse button to rotate the scene as you work. This lets you turn the line of the pipe along any of the three axises, referencing the plans you are using and the numerical display in the lower-right corner to make sure you are getting them right.
Select the “Elliptical” tool from the toolbar. Click near one end of the pipe. Draw out the circle until it is the width you want for the pipe.
Select the “Follow Me” tool from the toolbar. Use it to extend the circle you drew along the length of the pipe. You may have to rotate the view if the tool gets stuck in a corner, but it should easily make all the turns you need. When you are done, switch to the select tool and delete the line you drew inside the pipe. Now, just “Unhide” the layer in the “Layers” panel.
Daniel Ketchum holds a Bachelor of Arts from East Carolina University where he also attended graduate school. Later, he taught history and humanities. Ketchum is experienced in 2D and 3D graphic programs, including Photoshop, Poser and Hexagon and primarily writes on these topics. He is a contributor to sites like Renderosity and Animotions.