Turn Yourself into a Vase with SketchUp! (Making Rotational Portrait Sculptures from Silhouettes for 3D Printing)

Turn Yourself into a Vase with SketchUp! (Making Rotational Portrait Sculptures from Silhouettes for 3D Printing)

You likely have seen the effect before: An image like the one above shows some shapes that look like vases. After a little while, however, you notice that the curved shapes that define the vases are actually faces - or more specific: the negative silhouette of the faces. As it turns out, this can easily be accomplished in SketchUp. Turning these shapes into real objects is also pretty simple these days as long as you have access to a 3D printer, a CNC lathe or can browse the web, where you can order 3D printed objects from any of the vendors that I list on this page. Follow these steps to turn yourself into a vase: 1. Take a good silhouette picture. Then import it into SketchUp. For this first step, we will be using a technique similar to the one that I employed for the tree cutout component in Chapter 5. 2. On the exploded picture, trace the outline of the silhouette....
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Analyze This! Creating Geometry for Structural Analysis in SketchUp

Analyze This! Creating Geometry for Structural Analysis in SketchUp

SketchUp is a great software for creating 3D or 2D geometry that can then be imported into analysis software (or used for analysis right in SketchUp). You already saw a few examples for this in my book: One is the building energy analysis setup with the OpenStudio plugin that I describe in chapter 4 in the book. Another one is the lighting analysis that you can do with some rendering software (LightUp is shown as one example in Chapter 5). What I want to go over here is how you can create a structural geometry model in SketchUp that you can then export to a structural analysis application. In my case, I am using VisualAnalysis because I use it for my teaching as well. This software is available for students as a free version and allows for importing DXF models. Of course, you can use the same method with other analysis software packages as well, just make sure you are able...
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SketchUp 3D Basecamp, here I come!

SketchUp 3D Basecamp, here I come!

  This Sunday, I will be heading to Trimble's SketchUp 3D Basecamp in Boulder, Colorado. This year's iteration of the Basecamp is promising to be a great event. There will be lots of presentations showing what can be done with SketchUp once one masters the basics. For example, rendering in SketchUp has a solid block on Tuesday's agenda. And then there will be a keynote by Makerbot's Bre Pettis. Wednesday offers a full-day Ruby scripting workshop for those interested. For my part, I will on Tuesday morning show off how one can use Ruby scripting for design. This is an exciting topic, yet many people don't even know that what others do in Rhino and Revit can actually be done in SketchUp, too. See the image on the right as an example. So if you are interested in this, don't forget on Monday to vote for my talk and drop by on Tuesday morning. Finally, this weekend will also mark the release of the companion website for my forthcoming book "Architectural Design with...
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Unwrapping a double-curved shell

Unwrapping a double-curved shell

As you saw in example 4.6 in the book, unfolding a developable surface in SketchUp is very easy using the Unfold plugin. What do you do then, if you have a doubly-curved shape, such as the one shown above (from chapter 6)? Obviously, you can't just "flatten" it without distorting it (take the Mercator projection of world maps for an example of how unwrapping a sphere can lead to significant distortions). In this case, it might be a good strategy to unfold the surface in strips using the same technique described in example 4.6. This gives you the ability to cut the surface into separate parts that can then be assembled using gluing, welding etc. The image below illustrates how this looks after flattening. As you may have noticed, I also added some glue tabs using the Glue Tabs plugin (see chapter 4 for details). In order to make this work, you may need to turn on hidden geometry display (in...
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