Overview

SketchUp is a powerful design tool that empowers us to create on the fly in a way that feels similar to drawing on a notepad or sketchbook. Despite what its name implies, SketchUp provides both technical accuracy and design freedom, which is what truly sets SketchUp aside from being just a program to create 3D models. If we dive even deeper into SketchUp, it provides another world of efficiency and accuracy within dynamic components.


The ConDoc Tools for SketchUp Pro 
provide many useful features that automate advanced and complex operations in SketchUp. ConDoc includes dynamic components, which are simple models with smart functions applied to the geometry. Think of dynamic components as spreadsheets attached to 3D models. Applying “if this, then that” logic drastically expedites the creation of simple objects with subtle variations.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you the basics of how to create and customize your own dynamic component. You will assign absolute and variable parameters to a window component that will rebuild itself when scaled. Use these dynamic components throughout your model to boost modeling speed, accuracy, and efficiency.

Download all of the resources you need to follow along with this tutorial:

2D Graphic / 3D Object Theory

ConDoc components use 3D Objects and 2D Graphics. 3D Objects are the physical representation of an object used in elevation, section, and perspective. Some objects, like a window or door, do not render properly in plan when sliced and viewed from above. A 2D Graphic is the diagrammatic representation of an object needed to present these objects in plan view within industry graphic standards.

To make modeling and drafting tasks faster and easier, we bundle both the 3D Object and 2D Graphic together within the same component. Scaling this component will change and distort both the 3D Object and 2D Graphic. To avoid this distortion, we can create a dynamic component with rules for the individual pieces that control size and placement. A dynamic component will rebuild the pieces based on a set of rules applied to the model, eliminating distortion and keeping our drawings sharp and within industry graphic standards.

Tip:  Read more about this topic in “The SketchUp Workflow for Architecture” by Michael Brightman.

Steps to a Dynamic Component

First, make a plan. Building dynamic components on the fly can be a difficult and frustrating endeavor.  Having a plan for the desired functionality will keep you on task and make your path clear. Sketch the plan out on a piece of paper before you even get to the computer. The more time you spend preparing, the less time you will spend muddling around in SketchUp.  

Next, model the parts. In SketchUp, build the individual pieces of the component that will be controlled by a formula. Simpler is better.

FORMULA OF 3D OBJECT

FORMULA OF 2D GRAPHIC

FT = Frame Thickness | WW = Window Width | WH = Window Height | WD = Window Depth

Note:  While dynamic components can be used in SketchUp Make, you need SketchUp Pro to author them.

Finally, assign attributes to make it dynamic. As you plug in values from your formula, you can test, modify, and verify that everything works when you scale your component. Your successful component will scale in all directions and any distortion brought on by scaling will be rebuilt to keep both your 3D Object and 2D Graphic in proportion.

Conclusions

  • Dynamic components can be as simple or complex as needed, but it is always best to keep them simple. Don’t embed too many options; the smartest and most valuable dynamic components have very simple functions.
  • Make a plan for your “DC” by sketching it out on paper first. Paper and pencil are great tools for thinking and designing while computers are better suited for production. Avoid approaching large design tasks with the computer alone; this rule applies to architectural design as well.
  • Always look for ways to model smarter, not harder. Dynamic components are an excellent tool to expedite and automate simple modeling tasks. It may take a while to assign each attribute and test, but in the end, it will save countless hours of time when you use them over and over in your models.
  • If you are creating a complex dynamic component, try building a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Sheets so you can test your functions first. Once you have everything worked out, you can expedite assigning attributes by copying and pasting pre-built functions.
  • See more on dynamic components here…  https://help.sketchup.com/en/article/115544