Blender 2.8 for SketchUp users


with Blender 2.8 I will give it another try. I modeled many different things with SketchUp, I think since 2010. I like it’s intuitive way of manipulating the objects. And nearly every time still with precision. Even when I come back to 3D after half a year, I feel very comfortable.

I’ve written up some of my mostly used features in SketchUp and compare them to Blender. I think, that Blender is so powerful in specific task, that they have forgotten about some very basics (e.g. move and rotate with base points). Hopefully I’m missing some workflows in Blender, where experienced users could correct me here. Once I did try to use Mechanical Blender ( but that development stopped, but they give it another go now with Blender 2.8.

The list is still work in progress, and I will update it here.

Blender 2.8 for Sketchup-Users


  • Both: orbit with middle mouse button, pan with SHIFT and middle mouse button.
  • Blender’s missing: intuitive center of orbit. (Oribit around selection and zoom to mouse helps a little bit: Zooming on cursor instead of screen center)
  • Both: have look around and walk (SHIFT+^ in Blender)

Object-Mode and Edit-Mode

This modes are not explicitly known in Sketchup. By default, you start in Sektchup in Blender’s edit mode. In this mode, you can manipulate vertices, lines and faces.

  • Sketchup: Group/Component

  • Blender: Object Mode

  • Sketchup: drawing, manipulating a group/component

  • Blender: Edit Mode

Switch between them by pressing TAB


  • Sketchup: Every element can be assigned to a layer. Each layer can be visible or hidden.
  • Blender. It is called Collections on the top right. It serves for 2 things:
  1. It’s the hierarchical view of grouped (parented) objects
  2. It lists all collections. Objects can be put into multiple collections and therefore can be used like layers. AFAIK they don’t support colors.


  • Both support different base units such as mm, m, cm, inch, foot and both understand dimensions with a written unit. E.g. if your model’s unit is m and you move something by 100mm, it is actually moved by 0.1m.

Sketching in a Plane

  • Sketchup has these primitives: Line, circle, arc. Dimensions can be entered during sketching, normally aligned to the local coordinate system.
  • Blender: With the addon “Snap Utilities Line”, which comes with Blender 2.80 but must be manually activated, precise sketichng feels like in SketchUp. For other shapes the addon “Fast Carve” could help. Without these addons the equivalent would be the knife tool, but it is very limited, compared to Sketchup’s sketching.

Tape and Protractor

  • Sketchup: tape can be used very intuitively. Hitting CTRL once, switches to guide mode, where lines can be offset by a given amount.
  • Blender: clumsy usage of tape equivalent: first draw a tape, then position their ends by drag’n’drop with CTRL held down for snapping.
  • Blender: a protractor is created out of a tape by dragging it in the middle
  • Blender’s missing: guide lines


Precise moves are very limited in Blender!

  • Sketchup: select object(s), hit M, click on snapped base point, move along axis, edges plus entering dimensions or to other vertice and click - done!

  • Blender: select object(s), hit G (think of grab), and move them along global x,y,z axis with X, Y and Z, or along local axis with XX, YY or ZZ, enter distance, done. Optionally with snapping to a target vertice.

  • Blender’s missing:

    • no move along an arbitrary edge
    • no base point selection
    • no free navigation during move operation.


With rotation, it get’s even worse.

  • Sketchup: has precise and intuitive way of rotation: select object to be rotated, define center and axis for rotation, select basepoint of rotation, select target point or enter degrees.

  • Blender: center of rotation can be set to different things like ˋactive elementˋ, ˋglobal cursorˋ and more. The axis of rotation can be fixed to x,y,z in global and local coordinate system.

  • Blender’s missing: Blender fails on selecting a base point and target point for the ammount of rotation.

  • Blender’s missing: Blender has no ability to align the axis to an arbitrary edge.

  • Blender fails: snapping a rotation makes no sense in the current implementation, since on basepoint can be selected.

Move or Rotate with Duplicate/Array

  • Sketchup: move/rotate and hit CTRL

  • Blender: SHIFT+D

  • Blender extra: ALT+D makes a new linked instance of an object.

  • Blender’s missing: no base points can be selected

  • Sektchup: move, hit CTRL, drop the duplicated object and then type x7 for 7 copies repeating the last move.

  • Blender: use the array modifier

  • Sektchup: move, hit CTRL, drop the duplicated object and then type /7 for 7 copies placed in between the original object and the new object.

  • Blender: use the array modifier, make use of evaluated statements eg. 100mm/7 for spacing


  • Sketchup: It’s the key feature of that software and is patented. Draw a sketch on a surface and extrude it inwards (push) or outwards (pull). It can cut through the whole volume and make a hole, but only, if the two faced are parallel.
  • Blender: Pull works quite similar with the extrude tool E, but pushing isn’t quite as powerful.
  • Blender extra: the extrude is even more powerful, since it can pull each face separately and also connected faces simultaneously.
  • Blender extra: With the addon ExtrudePull we get an even more sophisticated push tool, since it can cut through a whole geometry, regardless of the orientation of the opposite surface.
  • Blender Workaround: use boolean modifiers, that cutout stays editable that way!

Boolean Operations

  • Sketchup: Groups can be combined by outer shell, union, subtract, trim, intersect and split.
  • Blender: It has by default only union, difference and intersect.
  • Blender bonus: Boolean operation can be kept editable, if the modifiers are not applied. An STL-export for 3D printing exports the model with the modifiers applied (you get what you see). Very handy for this kind of usage is the included but by default disabled addon “Bool Tool”.

Groups and Components

  • Sketchup: select multiple objects and right-click “Make Group” or “Make Component”
  • Blender: primitives are always within a “Sketchup group”. Objects can be grouped with Parenting, found in the context menu (CTRL+P to link, ALT+P to unlink).
  • Blender: Cloned components are created with ALT+D from a given object.

Good discussion about grouping: Grouping objects (2.8)

Relative/Local Coordinate Systems

  • Sketchup: Every group provides automatically a local coordinate system, if it is edited again.
  • Blender: supports the global coordinate system, and a local coordinate system in edit mode.
  • Blender unclarified: Does parenting provide a new coordinate system with similar behaveour like in Sketchup?


  • Both: provide an object tree, for organizing the model.
  • Sketchup: this is mainly done via grouping and components.
  • Blender: very similar to Sketchup, but it has many more features and is a bit different to use. The upcoming Blender 2.81 will have huge improvements on this.
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Hi @KarlZeilhofer, I used SketchUp in the past and switched to Blender in recent years for architectural visualisation. I’ll try to answer some of your issues.

I think Blender’s power comes from that it’s not really designed for a specific task but it can do very different tasks on a quite acceptable level (such as scultping, modelling, rendering, video editing, motion tracking, compositing etc.). Think about which of these can SketchUp really do. You may not really need switch to another application when using Blender.
In this context, Blender hasn’t really been designed for architects/engineers in the first place and it’s true that it’s not good with some CAD like operations. However this will probably change in the near future as they hired a developer (Germano Cavalcante (mano-wii)) , just to improve snapping & precision modelling.

Blender has fly/walk modes that is quite similar.

Collections are basically layers (and more powerful than what SketchUp has). There is also parent/child hierarchy in the outliner that might have confused you.

@filibis, thank you very much for your input.

Great to hear, that the developer of ˋSnap Toolsˋ is hired by the foundation. I think, that the guys from mechanical blender do also a great job, but I think their developments are just a side project for them. They mainly do mechanical engineering in their company.

Above I added the category about relative/local coordinate systems.

Greets from Austria, Karl

I added the addons for sketching: “Snap Utilities Line” and “Fast Carve”.

I’m not sure, if the full version of “Snap Utilities” will come with Blender in future releases.

Regarding the Outliner: This UI in Blender gets huge imporvements in the upcoming version 2.81, please have a look here on Youtube:

I, too have switched from over a decade of using SketchUp to Blender.

I will make a couple of observations.

Firstly, if you have only used SketchUp and never other polygon modelers, then Blender’s more conventional approach may confuse you.

It will be like using a hammer to pound in screws. You must think a bit differently, so to compare them by using only SketchUp features and workflows will not be as helpful as understanding screws work better with a screwdriver than a hammer.

IOW, it helps to learn how to use Blender’s workflows and techniques than to try and conform it to SketchUp’s unique way off working.

Personally, I find Blender’s navigation much easier and almost identical to SketchUp’s, as long as you set the prefs as you describe.

Also Blender has the numpad controls which allow you to go quickly to top left right bottom front back.

I’ll continue in a new post.

There is much more that Collections do. The provide the same functionality as components in SketchUp-- that is you can make an instance of a collection which updates when you edit the original collection.

Also, objects may simultaneously belong to multiple collections, which can help a lot when organizing large scenes.

Furthermore, Blender has Parent-Child relationships which are shown in collections. This is a very powerful feature which does not exist in SketchUp.

Any updates on imgrating from Sketchup to Blender?

I find Blender very interesting, but I do experience a very steep - and sometimes frustrating - learning curve.

A simple thing as drawing a plan on top of a imported 2d dwg file, and then extrude the faces to 3d is so intuitive in Sketchup - and I can’t even find out how to do this in Blender…


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There are some great architectural addons that do make what you’re trying to do simple, but you are correct, it takes a different mind set too jump into traditional poly modelers from SketchUp.

On a related note, I was out in California a year or so ago doing a teach the teachers workshop for VR at Art Center in Pasadena. And I thought it would be so simple just to start all of these teachers out with SketchUp. It turns out that it was quite the challenge to try and get them to learn SketchUp especially when they didn’t understand that you had to group things to keep them from sticking together, which made no sense to them whatsoever.

They were used to other types of modeling packages, typically CAD packages and or traditional polygon modelers like Modo.

So, it all is about one’s perspective.

A very good friend of mine has been trying to make the switch from SketchUp to Blender for quite some time now, and is struggling just as you are. I told him to contact me anytime he has a question so that he doesn’t become too frustrated, but it’s still quite a chore for him.

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@chippwalters , I have taken your course on gumroad I which you explain about SketchUp import as obj.

Where can we ask queries regarding that course?
( I was referring to this one…I saw this thread and bought the course )

Do you know people or firms who are using this in their daily workflow for large projects ? What is the feedback ?


Hi @kayp,

You can PM me here or go to to contact me directly.

With regard to

I assume you are talking about architectural firms. There are several architects using Blender, including Chocofur and 3D Architect:

There are also some great addons as well for architects, like Archipack:


Thanks for your response.
I was referring to your workflow given in the course ( export as obj from SketchUp)…

Is that method being used by any architecture firm /individual ( like some one who had taken your course …or you may know someone).

Is that reliable enough for professional work …where time and resources are limited .

People of other threads on this forum and in sketchup forum have expressed the issues .

I know of no way to seamlessly import SketchUp files directly into Blender while maintaining all grouping, instancing, materials and shading.

You can, however, import as OBJ and it will retain the limited materials for each mesh. And it’s easy to get the scaling correct as well.

Furthermore, you can tab to edit the mesh, press A to select all faces then P and separate all meshes by “Loose Parts” which will then create an object for all parts. Of course then you need to name them correctly.

Also, since SketchUp has no concept of object hierarchy, (knee bone connected to the thigh bone), it’s difficult if not impossible for Blender to have hierarchies imported from SketchUp, as Blender does very well with object hierarchy. It’s much easier to set an objects origin point in Blender than in SketchUp and while you have snapping modes, you don’t have to use them.

Lastly, SketchUp still doesn’t take advantage of the new GPU cards and so is quite limited w/regard to the number of polys which can be displayed. Not so much with Blender, where editing scenes with millions of faces is not difficult.

Thanks for your response.
So the short answer seems to be No. Since there is no way one would spend time selecting and renaming hundreds ( maybe thousands at times)

I got a different perception reading the intro on your sketchucation post.

It shall be good idea to have a q&a forum ( like udemy or skillshare ) where you may get queries and feedback from students .it shall help everyone .

There was a SketchUp Importer till version 2.79 but the developer has left it completely. If someone develops it for current version and keep updating it ,I believe it shall have a good market going by the posts here and other blender and SketchUp forums.

I did forget one solution which I found worked a couple of years ago. You might check out OKINO and their Polytrans product. It actually did convert SketchUp file as correctly as possible at the time.

The simple fact is SketchUp is a doomed product. There has been no indication since Trimble purchased it they would modernize it-- in fact they’ve gone the opposite direction and created a crippled web product with it. There are many predictions years ago (some by me) that Trimble would not bring the product up to current standards-- and they haven’t. It’s a pure hobby toy today.

Still, just like the last buggy whips made, it is a good buggy whip. And those who still prefer horse and buggy will continue to use it. Too bad, as SketchUp did at one time have a tremendous product.

If you don’t like Blender, you may want to look at FormZ or some of Autodesk’s pro architectural offerings like Revit. They are all modern tools which are tuned for architecture.

Ah get it now. There are two use cases.

Architect / Interior design
They don’t have the time or need for exporting a scene outside of their cad app and rather use rendering since sketchup revit etc and with using Enscape have a killer option today.

Particularly when working on a project you want to be able to render what you have right now without export making sure that the rendering always reflects the current design state. Enscape again is perfect here.

Other game engine like realtime render engines became also very popular slowly replaces VRay because they come with added content like trees bushes etc.

CG Artists - hired by Architect
For large projects and presentation purpose architects do render out images of often various degrees of realism. Thats then often when they work with external render studios as they often do not have that capacity inhouse thus you will export.

Interior design is the same like for a project/company website or if the project is large (costly enough) that a good rendering is of value to the client.

I tell my students that they will learn on my courses to work with SketchCrap.
I just hate that this app is so widely used and so pathetic.

Take away all the extensions and it is so poor.

Revit replaced it in many studios - SketchUp still has a lot of good aspects. The drafting drawing moving is still pretty good and solid. But Blender is not far away from it.

The only thing that SketchUp has are the drafting predictions (perpendicular make arc tangent to a line , intersecting guide lines, etc) Cut section tool, the general guide line tool, and actually if you use it the layout tool while most rather do that in Autocad. And that kinda sums it up.

The push n pull to cut is great when dealing with a wall. Try to use it on non parallel faces and it is failing.

I am not so sure about it. It is still fast to learn and very popular simply because of the 3D warehouse.

I would rather say the field of interior design kinda walks in circles when it comes to cad tools.

Here in India almost all hires we get have knowledge of Sketchup modeling and AutoCad drafting . Hence emphasis on using these …as we cant afford to train people all the time . I have also started using SuPodium for rendering within Sketchup ( )
Revit renderings are bad and it is overpriced … and most of MEP consultants here don’t use revit /BIM .
Enscape and Vray are subscription models and would like to avoid them . And I think blender does a better job as compared to Enscape .

With the developments in 2.8 versions in Blender , looks like it is opening up for lesser mortals :slight_smile: …and therefore the spike in interest shown by many people now.
It shall be great if a bridge may be created ( with add-ons or internal features ) for these users . The ecosystem shall be benefiting from this.


Here is the link :
shall check it too.

Here is the Sketchup importer which is no longer in development :
If someone with right skills can develop it for Blender market , it shall be great .