How to Control the Axis Orientation in SketchUp

Written by darrin koltow
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How to Control the Axis Orientation in SketchUp
Inclined discs provide one way of controlling SketchUp's axis orientation. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

SketchUp's rotation tool appears as a protractor when you select it. The protractor takes on the orientation of the surface you slide the protractor over. This action gives you a means to control the orientation of the axis to rotate objects around. Therefore, to control the orientation of the rotation tool's axis, create an inclined plane; drag objects you want to rotate atop the plane; then rotate the objects. The ability to control the orientation of the rotation axis lets you shape objects the way you want them, making it a fundamental skill for 3-D modelling.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Open SketchUp, and then click the "Rectangle" tool. You'll create an inclined plane with a rectangle, which will change the orientation of the axis you'll later rotate a polygon around.

  2. 2

    Drag on the ground plane to make the rectangle. Then click to end rectangle creation.

  3. 3

    Click the middle mouse button and drag so that the rectangle you just made appears nearly flat. This action is necessary to incline the plane along the correct axis.

  4. 4

    Double-click the rectangle to select all its edges, and then right-click. Click the "Make component" item in the context menu that appears. This prevents your rectangle from warping when you apply the "Rotation" tool.

  5. 5

    Click the toolbar's "Rotate" tool, and then click one edge of the rectangle. This sets the origin for the axis of rotation.

  6. 6

    Drag toward the opposite end of the rectangle, and then click the mouse to begin inclining the rectangle.

  7. 7

    Drag until the rectangle makes a noticeable angle with the ground, and then click again to end rotation. The inclined rectangle now forms a surface you can use to orient the rotation axis of objects on the incline plane.

  8. 8

    Click the toolbar's "Line" tool, and then click on the inclined rectangle to plot the polygon's first point.

  9. 9

    Drag and click to create two or three more points on the rectangle, and then click the polygon's starting point to close the shape.

  10. 10

    Repeat step 4 to make a component of the polygon, and then click the "Rotate" tool again.

  11. 11

    Drag the mouse over the polygon's surface. Notice that the protractor attached to the mouse cursor is inclined to the same angle as the rectangle. This means you've controlled the orientation of the axis for rotating the polygon. You'll now rotate the polygon around that changed axis.

  12. 12

    Click a point in the polygon to anchor the "Rotation" tool, then drag along the polygon toward another edge.

  13. 13

    Click again to begin the rotation, and then drag to set the rotation degrees. Click when you want to finish rotating the polygon.

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