How to model your Earth with Google Sketchup

Sketchup is a 3D CAD software by Google. Many people do not consider it as a professional CAD but it has some good characteristics:

–It is free: you can easily download it from;

–It is simple to use and it enjoys of an excellent support on Internet with many tutorial videos;

–It doesn’t require a workstation but you can reach satisfactory results even without having dedicated graphic board installed on your PC.

When focusing the Earth, the sun, the dome… we’ll have to take into consideration the Universe geometry and its dimensions. By the help of a 3d model, set in the correct scale, and possibly an animation, we shall be able to have a better idea of this complex subject.

It would be great to have communication and interchange on the base of 3d components and keep in touch with many people able to use the CAD: sketchup allows an easy communication.

So let’s start with our model.

Flat Earth 3d model

Phase 1.

  • Go to the page and download sketchup.
  • Install it on your pc. It is not necessary to give more detailed instructions: you’ll be able to do this alone.
  • Open Sketchup with a double click on the icon you will notice on your desktop:

Phase 2.

  • Sketchup opens  the window you can see in the image.
  • Click on the button “Start to use Sketchup”.

Phase 3.

  • Sketchup opens with the 3d environment.
  • Select with your mouse the woman and delete it with “del” button.

The blue, red, and green lines are the reference axes x, y and z. On the left there is the instrument bar with all drawing commands.

Phase 4.

  • Go to the menu window/model information, click on the voice “unity” and select meters as a unit of measurement. It is not possible to select Km or miles so we will consider each meter as a Kilometer.

Phase 5.

  • Select the drawing command “circle” from the side bar.
  • Click in the center of the reference system and digit 19980 that is the Earth radius in Km, on your keyboard and push “enter”.
  • Select the command “zoom extension” in the side bar to see the drawn circle.

Phase 6.

  • Click on rectangle instrument   and draw a rectangle around the circle. Dimensions are not so important now. (if you need to zoom out scroll with the mouse wheel)

Phase 7.

  • In the meanwhile look for an azimuthal equidistant proiection of the Earth, centered in the north pole or an image that you consider a good representation of the Earth. Save the image where you want, for example on Desktop.

Phase 8.

  • On Sketchup select the command push-pull.
  • Select with the cursor the rectangle, outside of the circle.
  • Type 50, extrude upward and press enter. (that’s true, the icewall is not high 50 km but it is the minimum to see something on the 3d model)


Phase 9.

  • Click on the select tool on the side bar su14  and select the circle by a single click on it. Go to the menu File/import.
  • The import window opens. Make sure the texture option is selected. Search the image of the Earth you saved and click on the button “Import”.

Phase 10.

  • Fix the picture in the centre of the circle as shown in the image.
  • When you click, the texture will fill the circle as in the following image.


Phase 11.

  • Right click on the circle and select the voice “Texture/position”.

  • 4 coloured grips appear on the texture and allow to move, scale, rotate or deform the image.

Phase 12.

  • By clicking on the red grip and on the green one fix the image centered in the circle , with the Ice wall exactly on the edge.
  • When you have finished, just give a right click and select “done” option.

  • It would be useful to create a component that can be copied many times on a surface. Why? How many ponds are there on the Earth?
  • We will examine this subject another session, as soon as possible.

Thank you for reading.

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