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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Backgrounds and Landscape Views in Sketchup

How to place an image map (jpg) as a sky or environment background inside SketchUp model? This key words search appears constantly in this blog. As many know adding a background to your SketchUp model allows you add image files to your model and position images such that they act as a background.

The way to do it is to save the image to your computer. In SketchUp go to Window > Styles, and choose "edit" in the choices. Select "Watermark" option. Click the "+" sign to add a photo as a Watermark/Background. There is a step through wizard to let you choose different settings.

The issue with this procedure is to find a good sky/background photo you can use. And when I say “good” means that it has to have the same eye level as your model otherwise you will need to move your model up and down to adjust it to the image in the background. Beside this problem if you want to create an animation or look around the image will stay static while your model will vary its position. Below you see an image that explain these drawbacks. If you use the Look Around tool the model will move but the background will not follow it. So this trick has not worked for me especially when I work in an interior space.

An important variable in interior design is the relationship with the environment and the views we have of it from an interior space. Sometimes we can take photos on site and sometimes we need to use panoramic images to show our proposal for a project. If our project is on floor 30 we may need to place the skyline of a city but if we are designing for a glass house the eye level will be completely different.

So here are my tips

In case I can take pictures on site: I take several pictures of the background and then use stitching software to combine them in a panorama. I save it in my computer.

I create a cylindrical shape to wrap my model enough to cover the interior views. If I have just a flat window on one wall the curvature will be much less than if the interior space has views around like this example.

I create a texture and I apply it on a flat face. I adjust its position using fixed pins and specifying it as “Projected”. Be aware to align the flat face with the width and height of the rounded shape to avoid distortions of the picture or a tiled result. I sample the texture on the flat face and I apply it on the cylindrical one.

I create a scene with the interior view I want to show setting the eye level as I need it. Note in the picture   
below that the background is too high compared to the site view (the project had a considerable difference between the pool level and the garden).

To adjust it I move the circular shape in the blue direction until I am satisfied with the result.

Now I can use the Look Around tool and the background will follow my model.
Note: If you need a 360 degrees background you can have a complete cylinder to walk around inside or outside the model.

1 comment:

  1. That is some inspirational stuff. Never knew that opinions could be this varied. Thanks for all the enthusiasm to offer such helpful information here.
    Landscape designer virginia


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