Sketchup Blog - News and Notes from the Sketchup folks

Putting a frame around your model

Posted by Aidan Chopra, Product Evangelist

I was fiddling around with a SketchUp model the other day, and the need arose to give it a graphic frame. I wanted to be able to apply a colored border, a logo, a title and some instructions that would be visible to people who view my model in SketchUp. It turned out that the easiest way to do this was with Watermarks, a new feature we introduced in SketchUp 6. Here's one of the models I created with my newfound technique.

A little background: Watermarks are basically graphic layers that you can apply to your model view. They can be underlays, meaning they appear behind your model, or overlays, meaning they show up in front. You control Watermarks by using the Styles dialog box, which lives in the Window menu.

First, I created the image for my Watermark. I used Photoshop because that's what I know, but any software that lets you export a PNG with an alpha channel will work. An alpha channel is a special layer of information that describes which parts of an image are transparent. Because I wanted my graphic frame for SketchUp to have a hole in it (so I could see my model through it), I needed to create an image with a transparent area in the middle – kind of like a doughnut. Here's a simple way to create the right kind of image:

  1. Open (or create) your image file in an image editor (like Photoshop).
  2. If your image contains multiple layers, flatten it (make a single layer).
  3. Duplicate that layer.
  4. Delete the original layer (the one on the bottom).
  5. Select the area that should be transparent in your PNG (the doughnut-hole, if you will).
  6. Press Delete to get rid of the pixels you selected in Step 5.
  7. Choose Save As from the File menu, and save your image as a PNG file.

After I created my image, the next step was to use it to create a Style with a Watermark in SketchUp. Here's how to do that:

  1. In SketchUp, open the model file to which you want to add a Watermark.
  2. Choose Window > Styles from the menu bar to open the Styles dialog box.
  3. In the Styles dialog box, click the Edit tab.
  4. Choose the Watermark Settings panel (the fourth button from the right in the Edit tab).
  5. Click the Add Watermark button (it looks like a plus sign).
  6. In the dialog box that appears, choose the PNG you created earlier and click Open.
  7. In the next dialog box, choose Overlay and click Next.
  8. In the next dialog box, click Next again.
  9. In the next dialog box, choose Stretched to fit the entire window, make sure Lock Aspect Ratio is selected, and click Finish.
  10. Click the Create New Style button (in the upper-right corner of the Styles dialog box) to create a new Style with the Watermark you just created.

Now, any time you want to see your model with your Watermark, all you have to do is select the Style you just created. To save a view of your model with the Watermark applied, create a Scene that you can return to anytime. To see how this works, feel free to check out the model of Sushi with a frame in the 3D Warehouse.

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Anonymous said...

This is a great technique. Nice effect. It looks like you have to only have one of these per model, as any 2nd or 3rd watermarks added will affect the original 1st watermark.

The SketchUp Team said...

Actually, you can have as many Watermarks as you want per model. All you have to do is assign each one to a different Style, and make those different Styles active to show the different Watermarks.

Or Rafi said...


Anonymous said...

Nice... is it possible to have watermarks show up in print, or is that only available through layout?

Anonymous said...

What size do you make the photoshop canvas inorder to fit the screen properly? Mine did not fill the screen to the edges even though I clicked on stretch to fit screen.

The SketchUp Team said...

Hi there,

In answer to both of the above questions:

1) Watermarks print just the way they appear on your screen. If you have LayOut, you can do much more sophisticated layouts, but you can certainly use Watermarks if you don't.

2) For the Watermark that I show in the Sushi example, my Photoshop canvas was 800x600 pixels. I find that's good enough for most applications. Clicking Stretch to Fit Screen tells SketchUp to automatically resize the Watermark to fit your modeling window, but it doesn't actually "stretch" it -- it always maintains its original aspect ratio. If you don't want to see space around the watermark, you'll have to either:
a) resize your modeling window to fit manually or
b) set up your canvas in Photoshop to match the proportions of your screen.

Hope that helps,


Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see how you built the fish - I haven't seen much organic modelling done in SketchUp!