Put Pictures Into Google Sketchup

Pictures in SketchUp’s material gallery vanish when you make a new scene.

Google SketchUp, the 3-D design program, has a variety of tools for texturing and coloring the structures you design. Among these tools is one for loading your own textures in the form of graphics files. This lets you make the walls of a virtual house you’ve built, for example, appear to be made of wood. The window that makes these effects possible is the “Material” window which contains predefined textures along with the aforementioned tools for making new textures.


1. Open SketchUp and click the toolbar’s “Rectangle” tool. You’ll use the rectangle to display a picture from your hard drive.

2. Click on the screen to plot the rectangle’s first point then drag on the screen to grow the rectangle to any size you’d like.

3. Click the mouse to finish the rectangle.

4. Click the “Window” menu then click the “Material” item. This displays SketchUp’s material creation and editing tools.

5. Click the “+” symbol to create a new material. In the dialog box that appears type a name describing the picture you’ll load. For example, if you’re loading a picture of a brick wall type “brick.”

6. Click a color from the color wheel. SketchUp will paint the picture you load with this color. If you don’t want to use color click the wheel’s center which is white. This will translate to clear when you load the picture.

7. Click the “Texture image” checkbox to make SketchUp display a dialog box for loading your picture.

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8. Navigate to the folder on your hard drive containing the picture you want to load.

9. Double-click the picture file to load it.

10. Type a measurement in the text box next to the left-right arrow. SketchUp uses this measurement to size the picture on the surface you’re applying it to. If you’re not sure what measurement to type you can leave the default setting.

11. Click the “Opacity” slider to tell SketchUp how opaque you want the loaded picture to be. For example, if you want to be able to see through the picture click the slider’s lower arrow until the slider displays “0” which indicates total transparency.

12. Click “OK” to finalize the settings for the loaded picture.

13. Click the icon displaying the picture you just loaded. SketchUp will turn the mouse cursor into a paint bucket indicating it’s ready to apply the picture to a surface.

14. Click the rectangle you drew in step one to apply the picture to the rectangle.