Understanding the Power of SketchUp Components

When teaching about groups and components in SketchUp Pro, the most asked question is “when do I need a group and when do I need a component.” Every modeler has a different view. I worked with one architect that made everything a component and hated groups. Other modelers are all about groups. I fall somewhere in the middle. My simple answer is repetition, but there are other benefits as well.

The easiest way to why turning geometry into a SketchUp component is repetition. With a group, it is a one-off, but a component is dependent geometry.  Once you make a component and you copy it, all components are now dependent on one another. Make a change to one; they all change. Let’s look at two examples.

Check out: “SketchUp Tutorial: How to Use Groups & Components

If I create interior walls for a structure, I use groups. Each wall is uniquely different, and I want to quickly adjust without worrying about the original. It is also simple geometry, which we discuss in a minute. However, if I am creating floor tile, then I would definitely want it as a component.

Now, that is the simple way to think of groups and components, but there are more reasons why components are essential to your modeling.  SketchUp will automatically save a component in the component tray under the default tray. This is beneficial for two reasons.

One, if you accidentally delete the component, no worries, just look in the component tray, find the component and move it into your modeling space. Whereas if you delete the group, it is gone forever. Two, with the component tray, you can grab and drop the component quickly into your model space. This saves you time when you have a large model. Rather than searching within your model for the component you need, then copying it and moving it along the axis to the appropriate place, you can just drop it from the component tray.

Check out this free training tutorial on Making Groups and Components in SketchUp Pro - Signing up is Free.

If you can’t easily reproduce geometry, you should make it a component. Complicated geometry should be a component for the simple fact that if you accidentally delete it, you can grab it again from the component tray.  There is nothing worse than deleting something that you spent a lot of time on and now need to recreate. It might be thinking, well, of course, I won’t delete it, but you will be surprised how often it does happen to modelers, especially if it is within a group, inside of another group.

Another reason components are helpful is the “statistics” SketchUp. If you look under the component tray, you will find three tabs – select, edit, and statistics. If you select a component under select, you can then look under statistics to see the number of instances you used that component. This can be useful when determining product estimates. I would not necessarily depend solely on this statistic, but it can be a quick reference.

One thing many beginners don’t quite understand is making components unique. If you think of a tile floor, tile along the edges will always need to be cut. However, if you cut it, it will affect the other tiles since they are dependent on one another. Instead, I would make the tiles I need to be cut unique from the other non-cut tiles. We have a free video tutorial on making components unique in the SketchUp Tips & Tutorial Library, which is free to sign up.

I will give you one more helpful hint. When you create a tile floor or wall, you will want to group all the tile components together when you are done placing the tiles. This will tell SketchUp that those components are to stay in the pattern you designed and prevents you from accidentally moving one tile out of placement.

5 Things to Know about SketchUp Components

  1. Components can be named easily when you initially create them, whereas it is more convoluted with groups. You can name groups, but it an afterthought.
  2. Groups can be turned into components, but components can not be turned into a group.
  3. Groups and components can be exploded but try not to unless it is absolutely needed.
  4. Components are saved, whereas a group is deleted, it is gone forever.
  5. Groups and components can be used together in a combination to ensure your design doesn’t change.

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We are jumping with excitement around here – well, not literally, as that would be weird. We have been working so hard to create our new “SketchUp for Beginners” online training course for interior designers that we can’t wait to share it with you. We are so excited that we are giving away the first module for free to anyone who signs up on our website.