Monday, July 8, 2013

Tutorial : Building a digital site model


1. Scout the site using Google Earth and Google Maps:

  1. Open Google Earth and scout around:
    1. Fly to the site.
    2. Make sure the 3D Buildings layer is turned on.
    3. Look at "Legacy Buildings" to see what's there:
      1. Open Preferences.
      2. In the 3D View tab, toggle "Use 3D imagery (disable to use legacy 3D buildings)".
      3. Click OK.
    4. Use Street View to see things at ground level.

  2. Open Google Maps and scout around:
    1. Get the site's precise location in Google Earth by choosing Edit > Copy View Location.
    2. Back in Google Maps, paste in copied Google Earth geo-location (coordinates).
    3. Use 45 degree imagery to get a good look at the building from multiple angles.

2. Bring a geo-snapshot of the site into SketchUp.

  1. Open SketchUp.
  2. Choose File > Geo-location > Add Location...
  3. Grab a view of the site. Don't grab too much all at once; you can always get more later.
  4. If you need more context, repeat steps 2 and 3.

3. Import existing 3D buildings.

  1. Search for nearby existing buildings in the SketchUp 3D Warehouse:
    1. Open the Component Browser (Window > Components).
    2. Choose Nearby Models from the Navigation drop-down menu in the browser.
    3. Use Google Earth to figure out exactly which buildings you want to import:
      1. Many of the buildings in Google Earth's "Legacy" mode (see step 1.1.3 above) are importable.
      2. Hover over these buildings and they glow purple.
      3. Click them to see details about them.
      4. Click into the Model tab to see the model's title in the 3D Warehouse.
      5. You can type or paste a model's title directly into the 3D Warehouse search box to find it directly.
    4. Import any available context buildings into your model:
      1. Clicking the image thumbnail in the Component Browser to download a model into your file.
      2. Import models one at a time.
      3. Save your file after importing each model. Things can get hairy fast with other people's content.

4. Model any missing critical buildings.

  1. Look at reference material in Google Earth and Google Maps (remember to check all views).
  2. In SketchUp, trace the building footprint using the aerial imagery.
  3. Use Earth and Maps imagery to estimate the building height (or look it up somehow).
  4. Use SketchUp's modeling tools to make a basic massing model of the building. Push/Pull, etc.
  5. Paint the roof of the building using the aerial image below it:
    1. Activate the Paint Bucket tool.
    2. Hold down Alt (on a PC) or Command (on a Mac) to turn the cursor into the Sample tool temporarily.
    3. Click once on the aerial imagery you imported in step 2.
    4. Release the key you used in step 4.5.2.
    5. Click once on the roof of the building to "paint" it. Click again on any other roof surfaces to paint them, too.
  6. Use Google Maps Street View imagery to add photo textures:
    1. Right-click on a street-facing wall and choose Add Photo Texture.
    2. "Drive" around until you find the view you need.
    3. Manipulate the size and aspect ratio of the window to frame your view precisely.
    4. Use the tools to outline the imagery you want to capture.
    5. Add the imagery to the face you selected in step 4.6.1.
    6. Close the Add Photo Texture window.
    7. Repeat the above steps for each additional face you'd like to paint.
  7. Use the detail in the photo-textures to add any necessary additional model detail.

5. Make massing model versions of the photo-textured buildings.

  1. Switch to Shaded face mode to speed up your computer (View > Face Style > Shaded).
  2. Select all of the photo-textured buildings in your model. Make sure they're all Groups or Components.
  3. Move these buildings to a new layer called Context Buildings - Photo.
  4. Choose Edit > Copy.
  5. Choose Edit > Paste in Place.
  6. Put the copies on a new layer called Context Buildings - Massing.
  7. Hide the layer Context Buildings - Photo.
  8. Make each of the buildings on the Context Buildings - Massing layer unique:
    1. For Components, right-click each building and choose Make Unique.
    2. For Groups, no action is needed.
  9. Convert each building into a massing model version of itself:
    1. With the Select tool, double-click to edit the Component or Group.
    2. Delete unnecessary geometry, if necessary.
    3. Explode all sub-groups and sub-components in the building:
      1. Choose Edit > Select All (while editing the Component or Group).
      2. Right-click anywhere on the model and choose Explode as many times as necessary.
    4. Unhide all of the hidden edges, if necessary:
      1. Choose Edit > Select All (while editing the Component or Group).
      2. Choose Edit > Unhide > All.
    5. Paint all faces with Default material:
      1. Choose Edit > Select All (while editing the Component or Group).
      2. Activate the Paint Bucket tool.
      3. In the Materials browser, browse to the Colors in Model collection.
      4. Click the Default material swatch (first in the list, looks half white/half blue).
      5. Click one of the selected faces on the model. All or most faces are painted.
      6. Orbit around to check things out, then click once on any unpainted face. All faces should now be painted.
    6. Intersect missing edges on the building:
      1. Choose Edit > Select All (while editing the Component or Group).
      2. Right-click on a face and choose Intersect Faces > With Selection.
    7. Reverse any faces that are the wrong color:
      1. Rick-click the offending face and choose Reverse Face.
      2. Repeat for all remaining backwards faces.

6. Trace roads from the aerial photo.

  1. If necessary, re-orient the model axes to align streets with the street grid.
    1. Use the Axes tool (Tools > Axes) to re-align the model axes.
    2. Using the Axes tool is a three-click operation:
      1. Click to establish the origin.
      2. Click to establish the red axis.
      3. Click to orient the green axis.
  2. If necessary, bring in more geo-snapshots to see more streets (see Step 2, above)
  3. Use the Rectangle, Line, and Arc tools to trace the streets you need.
  4. Make a Group out of all the street geometry.
  5. Put the new group on a new layer called Site Model.

7. Create a new ground plane.

For a flat site:
  1. Draw a big rectangle on the ground.
  2. Turn it into a group.
  3. Put the group on the Site Model layer.
  4. Turn off the Google Earth Snapshot layer.
  5. Scale the rectangle until it's just the right size.
  6. Edit the rectangle group.
  7. Right-click the rectangle and choose Intersect Faces > With Model. (This draws edges at the base of any buildings that poke through the rectangle.)
For a non-flat site:
  1. Trace the roads using the flat version of the geo-snapshot. Follow the instructions in Step 6, above.
  2. Toggle the terrain (File > Geo-location > Show Terrain) so that you're looking at the non-flat version.
  3. Move the group containing the roads straight up so that they're well above the terrain geo-snapshot.
  4. Make a white version of the 3D terrain:
    1. Right-click the terrain and choose Unlock.
    2. Choose Edit > Copy.
    3. Choose Edit > Paste in Place.
    4. Move the duplicate to the Site Model layer.
    5. Hide both Google Earth layers.
    6. Edit the duplicate terrain object group by double-clicking it with the Select tool.
    7. Paint the surface with the Default material. Follow the steps in 5.9.5, above.
  5. Transfer the edges you traced in step 1 to the terrain object:
    1. Activate the Drape tool (Tools > Sandbox > Drape).
    2. Click once on the Group of road edges.
    3. Click once on the terrain object Group.
  6. Delete the flat road edges if you don't need them anymore.

8. Create street name labels.

  1. Choose Tools > 3D Text to create a street name label.
  2. Place it approximately where it belongs.
  3. Scale, rotate, and move it into position.
  4. Lift it slightly off the ground to prevent Z-fighting:
    1. Right-click and choose Unglue to move it in the blue direction.
    2. Move it up by watching for the blue direction line. 6 inches is a good distance.
  5. Tell it not to cast or receive shadows:
    1. Open the Entity Info panel (Window > Entity Info).
    2. Expand the panel by clicking the expansion toggle in the upper-right corner.
    3. Uncheck Cast Shadows and Receive Shadows.
  6. Put all street names on the Site Model layer.

9. Create utility Scenes to show different versions of the site model.

  1. Turn on the Layer0, Site Model, and Context Buildings - Massing layers. Turn off other layers.
  2. Open the Scenes Manager (Window > Scenes).
  3. Make a Scene called Context - Massing.
  4. Expand the Scenes Manager by clicking the expansion toggle in the upper-right corner.
  5. Uncheck the "Camera Location" checkbox in the "Properties to Save" area.
  6. Turn on the Layer0, Google Earth Terrain, and Context Buildings - Photo layers. Turn off other layers.
  7. Make a Scene called Context - Photo.
  8. Uncheck the "Camera Location" checkbox in the "Properties to Save" area.
  9. Use these Scenes to switch between different contextual views of your model.
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