Sketchup Blog - News and Notes from the Sketchup folks

Making your own Face-Me people

Back before we had a blog, we'd include Tips & Tricks in the SketchUpdate e-newsletter we sent (and still send) around every so often. Recently, it occurred to me that some folks might find it useful to have them in a more "readily-bookmarkable" form; namely, this blog. Without further ado, here's the first of our Vintage SketchUp Tips & Tricks. I hope you find it helpful.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. They're wrong. The sincerest form of flattery is to find yourself included in a SketchUp model as a 2D Face-Me component. Building photo-real, custom people for SketchUp isn't all that hard; it requires a little bit of time and a photo-editing program like Photoshop, but it's a great way to set your SKP apart from all the others. Including a client's family in a model of their new house is very impressive -- if you're lucky, they'll be too distracted to notice that you had to value-engineer away their swimming pool.

Note: The images that follow were created with SketchUp 5, which used yellow as the default color for selected entities. SketchUp 6 (which is the current version) uses blue.

Step 1: Making 2D Face-Me people is easier if you start off with the right kind of picture.

Step 2: Use photo-editing software (such as Photoshop) to cut out your subject, then save the image as a PNG with a transparent background. This earlier post contains instructions on how to do so.

Step 3: In SketchUp, Import the PNG you just created into a new file. Make sure that "Use As Image" is selected in the Import dialog box before you click Import. Set it down on the ground, but don’t worry about how big it is.

Step 4: Make sure your figure is perpendicular to the green axis, then create a Face-Me component by selecting “Always face camera” in the Make Component dialog box.

Step 5: Resize your person to be the correct height by using the Tape Measure tool.

Step 6: Hide the edges of your new component and orbit around to see if it works. Then turn on shadows...

Step 7: Roughly cut out your person, erasing some edges and hiding others. The resulting outline is surprisingly convincing.

Step 8: The final result can be stored in your Components library, ready to be accessed in any model.

Update Corrected an omission in Step 3.

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alsomar said...

I've made a little collection of that kind of components. You can see it on

RickW said...

Once the transparent PNG is done, save yourself time by using Smustard's ImageProfile plugin. It will import the image, trace around it, and save it out as a [FaceMe] component.

This can save anywhere from 5-30 minutes of tedious linework per image.

Bhoritz said...


I am afraid, but the titotial doesn't work. When I import the PNG, Sketchup wants me to paint it somewhere and refuse to just let me drop it on the ground.

Is a step missing from the tuto?

SketchUp Team said...


Thanks for pointing out the omission. I've added a sentence to the post. Before you click Import (while still in the Import dialog box), make sure that Use as Image is selected. This will ensure that your image comes in as an object.

Good luck,


Krazy_Indica said...

I have successfully converted an image into 2D face-me component, BUT, when i rotate the view, the image starts to roate from the point of origin, and the point of rigin is at the bottom left corner of the image object., and the object seems to roate and NOT fixed to a location.
Can anyone suggest if the ORIGIN can be brought to the bottom-middle-center of the image?

SketchUp Team said...

I'd suggest right-clicking the component and choosing "Change Axes". This will allow you to reposition the point of origin wherever you like.

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Anonymous said...

ok after making all that when i want to use an sketch style the componets owned by sketchup look outlined but the ones i made from png are complete invisible, only can be looked if they are in shaded textured mode, and the white parts look transparent only dark ones look solid :S

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Africa3d said...

After making the face me component how do i get rid of the white glow around the picture when doing a render in Vray

Africa3d said...

How do i get rid of the white area left around the image once you have completed the task, this white area only shows up once you render in Vray!!!

Physics 3rd year undergraduate says: said...

Help please! Deleting Hidden Geometry deletes my entire .png and I can't find a solution!