How to Explode 3D Models With Sketchup

Updated April 17, 2017

The goal of exploded 3-D models is to clearly illustrate each component of a product, model or process. This type of illustration thus appears frequently where clear visual communication is essential, such as product manufacturing and medical academics. Making exploded 3-D models in Google's SketchUp design program involves using the "Explode" command together with the "Move" and "Text" tools. Understanding how to create exploded models increases the likelihood that those viewing your model will grasp the message you intended the model to convey.

Click the toolbar's "Rectangle" tool then click on the drawing canvas to plot the rectangle's first point. You'll make a box model from this rectangle then create an exploded view of it.

Triple click the rectangle to select all its edges then click the toolbar's "Push/Pull" tool. This tool pushes 2-D shapes into 3-D space.

Click the rectangle then drag upward to grow the box's height.

Click the box when it's at a height you like.

Press "Space" to pick up the "Selection" tool.

Drag a selection region around the box then right-click and click "Make component."

Press "OK" on the dialogue box that appears to accept the default values.

Right-click the box and click "Explode."

Click one of the box's faces, the press "Control" and "X" simultaneously to cut the face to the clipboard.

Press "Control" and "V" simultaneously to restore the face from the clipboard and attach it to your mouse cursor.

Drag the mouse to position the face attached to your cursor a short distance away from the face's original position.

Click the mouse to let go of the face.

Repeat steps nine through 12 for each of the remaining seven faces of the box. When you're done, the box's fundamental form will still be visible, as will the edges of the original box. These must be deleted for a clear view of each box face.

Double-click each edge of the original box then press "Delete" to remove the edge.

Click the "Tools" menu then click the "Text" command. This command lets you label each part of the exploded model.

Click a face to anchor the text's arrow to it then drag a short distance from the face.

Click again to finalise the arrow. SketchUp will highlight the arrow's text for you to edit.

Type some text in the box such as "side view" or "front wall," to suggest a hypothetical building or product the exploded box might be illustrating. This text helps to show the viewer of your exploded model the purpose of the part you've attached the arrow to.

Click again to finalise the text.

Repeat steps 15 through 19 to make arrows labelling the remaining parts of the exploded box.

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About the Author

Darrin Koltow wrote about computer software until graphics programs reawakened his lifelong passion of becoming a master designer and draftsman. He has now committed to acquiring the training for a position designing characters, creatures and environments for video games, movies and other entertainment media.