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Making your own Face-Me people

Back before we had a blog, we'd include Tips & Tricks in the SketchUpdate e-newsletter we sent (and still send) around every so often. Recently, it occurred to me that some folks might find it useful to have them in a more "readily-bookmarkable" form; namely, this blog. Without further ado, here's the first of our Vintage SketchUp Tips & Tricks. I hope you find it helpful.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. They're wrong. The sincerest form of flattery is to find yourself included in a SketchUp model as a 2D Face-Me component. Building photo-real, custom people for SketchUp isn't all that hard; it requires a little bit of time and a photo-editing program like Photoshop, but it's a great way to set your SKP apart from all the others. Including a client's family in a model of their new house is very impressive -- if you're lucky, they'll be too distracted to notice that you had to value-engineer away their swimming pool.

Note: The images that follow were created with SketchUp 5, which used yellow as the default color for selected entities. SketchUp 6 (which is the current version) uses blue.

Step 1: Making 2D Face-Me people is easier if you start off with the right kind of picture.

Step 2: Use photo-editing software (such as Photoshop) to cut out your subject, then save the image as a PNG with a transparent background. This earlier post contains instructions on how to do so.

Step 3: In SketchUp, Import the PNG you just created into a new file. Make sure that "Use As Image" is selected in the Import dialog box before you click Import. Set it down on the ground, but don’t worry about how big it is.

Step 4: Make sure your figure is perpendicular to the green axis, then create a Face-Me component by selecting “Always face camera” in the Make Component dialog box.

Step 5: Resize your person to be the correct height by using the Tape Measure tool.

Step 6: Hide the edges of your new component and orbit around to see if it works. Then turn on shadows...

Step 7: Roughly cut out your person, erasing some edges and hiding others. The resulting outline is surprisingly convincing.

Step 8: The final result can be stored in your Components library, ready to be accessed in any model.

About the Author

Aidan was a beloved member of the SketchUp team for 10 years. He birthed this blog, taught countless SketchUp classes, authored the SketchUp For Dummies book, and is a jolly fellow indeed. If you'd like to learn a little more about Aidan and his new endeavor, check out Bitsbox.

Profile Photo of Aidan Chopra