Materials, Colors, and Textures 1

comments (0) June 5th, 2010 in blogs

Killenwood Tim Killen, contributor
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I admit showing limited application of model coloring or texturing, rather emphasizing default values for edges and faces. This has been intentional as I don't usually find value in embellishing models with paint or wood finishes. Also, the application of textures can negatively impact computer performance.

Often students send models  requesting help on particular problem areas. These models come in all sorts of colors or materials that in many cases  are dark and obscure component edges and joint details. It makes it hard for me to see what is going on in the model. Therefore, before diagnosing the problems, my first task is often to reinstate default colors.

Nevertheless, there are circumstances that call for making models more realistic and appealing. And SketchUp has generous built-in capability for sprucing-up your models. However, just as finishing a piece of furniture in the shop can take quite a bit of time, so it is with SketchUp.

Here is a square tea table with curly maple texture.

 If you are simply coloring your model, that is dead easy. You simply go to the Materials dialog box, pick a color, and "paint" the model with a few clicks of the mouse. But adding wood grain to simulate the final finish can be quite an effort.

In the next few blog entries, I'll plan to show some basic options and capabilities for using materials with your SketchUp woodworking projects. You can combine material capabilities with shadows, another feature of SketchUp. Working with lighting angles and shadows is quite straightforward and I'll leave that experimentation up to you.

SketchUp provides two different kinds of materials to apply - colors and textures. Occasionally I apply colors to highlight or show contrast. The illustrations below are simple examples to show the blank lumber size required for band-sawing an irregularly shaped component. These blanks would be dimensioned to help work in the shop.

A Maloof leg and arm for a low-back chair showing the blank lumber size.

Step 1
To create the rectangular lumber blank, first make the surrounding rectangle of sufficient width and length for the furniture component. The default coloring will automatically fill the face of the blank. Note that X-ray is also applied in this case to show the dowel joint detail.


Step 2
Open the Materials Dialog Box (or Colors dialog box on the Mac) as shown below. The dialog boxes are
different in the Windows and Mac computers, but they basically do the same thing. In the text box, select Colors- Named and pick a color from the chart - I like magenta.

Step 3
The colors as selected from the color chart have 100% opacity. For this application, I don't want the rectangle to obscure the underlying arm shape. So I create a new material using magenta but reduce the opacity to about 20%. Click on the icon for creating a new material. Then use the slide bar to reduce the opacity. When done, click on the OK button

Step 4
Click on the new material shown in the top of the dialog box. The mouse icon will change to the Paint Bucket. Click the Paint Bucket on the face of the lumber blank. The face of the lumber blank will now be "painted" with the newly created low opacity magenta color.

I'll show some other options with colors and textures in the next entries.


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