Textured Globe Models in SketchUp
This is something a few people have asked about – texture wrapped globes in SketchUp, just as I used for my ‘Bouncing Google Earth’ model.
As its primary use is for architectural modeling, SketchUp doesn’t have any texture wrap options. So rather than attempt to apply a material to every plane surface of a model sphere by hand (very time consuming!) , the simplest thing to do is use object-based 3d modeling software and import the model in.
The following tutorial uses Anim8or (Freeware, Windows only – sorry) – download from here – much quicker to learn for a task like this than more elaborate software like blender.
The global map image used for texturing needs to be in what’s known as ‘equidistant cylindrical projection’, more commonly called a ‘cylindrical map’. There are hundreds of these across Nasa’s website and elsewhere on the web. For Earth as well as other planets.
In this example I use the January Blue Marble image from here.
Create the Mesh in Anim8or:
- Start Anim8or and go to File -> New.
- Click the ‘Add Sphere’ button.
- Hold down the left mouse button in the main window and drag to create the sphere. Size and position are unimportant at this stage.
- Double click on the sphere to open the Sphere Editor.
- Change the Lon/lat divisions to make the mesh finer or coarser – in the example I created here I used 24 in both directions.
Apply the texture:
- Use the Material drop down menu in the Sphere Editor and highlight — new —
- Select the button to the right of that to bring up the Material Editor.
- Click the button next to diffuse. The Texture Selector will pop up.
- In the Texture Selector chose Load Texture.
- Open the image you want to wrap around the sphere.
- Select your newly added material (under CHECKS) . A picture of the sphere will appear in the Texture Map section of the dialog.
- Click OK in the Texture Selector, then OK in the Material Editor.
Export the model:
- Object -> Export.
- Save as type: 3D Studio (*3ds).
- Save the file to the same directory as your texture – this *very* important – SketchUp won’t find the texture otherwise.
Import into SketchUp:
- Run SketchUp and go to File -> Import.
- Change the file type to 3DS Files (*.3ds) and Open the model you created in Anim8or.
- To remove the black lines simply double click on the model several times, right click and select Soften/Smooth Edges. Move the slider to the right with Soften Coplanar on.
- That’s it! The 3D world model can be resized and scaled in SketchUp just like any other – the texture mapping will stay in place.
Download the Textured Globe SketchUp file.