SketchUp Tutorial

Top 10 SketchUp Extensions (a.k.a. plugins or Ruby Scripts)

Sketchup Plugin

By Daniel Tal, ASLA, RLA , partner at BrightmanTal (

SketchUp allows users and programmers to create their own tools, called extensions or plugins, by using the Ruby Script programming language. Extensions can greatly extend how SketchUp functions. Many are specialized tools that can save you hours of work or perform tasks beyond SketchUp’s native tool set. If you use SketchUp but have not tried extensions before, they are a must to check out.

If you are an active or even new SketchUp user, you should make the effort to learn and try extensions. The bottom line is this: extensions speed up the modeling process by hours, saving you time, energy and frustration. Extensions will allow you to get the most out of SketchUp and improve your models.

It is suggested that you read any of the instructions or watch the videos that accompany the extensions below before using them. These can be found at the point of download. That will insure the extensions will work for you.

(1) SketchUp 2013 – Extension Warehouse

SketchUp 2013, the recent release from Trimble SketchUp, includes the Extension Warehouse (Window  Extension Warehouse). You will need to login with a Google account and then you can access all the extensions.

In previous SketchUp versions (like SU 8), you needed to manually install extensions usually by browsing to the root SketchUp program folder on your hard drive. For many SketchUp users this could be confusing if not difficult. The Extension Warehouse changes all that.

Much like SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse (where you can search and download models), the Extension Warehouse provides quick and easy access to custom tools. The Extension Warehouse allows users to search, install and manage extensions directly from a menu inside SketchUp.

SketchUp 2013 – Extension Warehouse

SketchUp 2013 and SketchUp Make (free version) include the Extension Warehouse which functions inside the program.

(2) SketchUcation Plugin Store.

Not to be outdone, SketchUcation, the popular SketchUp user forum (, has released its own version of the extension warehouse. Called the SketchUcation Plugin Store, it allows you to browse over 600 (yes 600!) SketchUp extensions. You can install and manage all your extensions with this plugin. Between SketchUp’s Extension Warehouse and the SketchUcation Plugin Store, you should be able to find all the custom SketchUp tools you need.

The SketchUcation Plugin Store and all the extensions are all free. Just register for free with SketchUcation, download the plugin and start installing plugins.

You can find the SketchUcation Plugin Store here:

SketchUcation Plugin Store

SketchUcation Plugin Store Extension and associated menus in SketchUp.

(3-6) Chris Fulmer SketchUp Extensions: CLF TOOLS

Chris Fulmer is a landscape architect and programmer. He has been a long time SketchUp user and has developed many extensions for use in SketchUp. Recently, Trimble SketchUp hired Chris as part of the quality assurance and development team. Aside from the great news of a landscape architect working on SketchUp, Chris has many extensions that are just awesome. Below are some of the tools he has developed that are worth installing and trying out.

Even better, many of these tools can be found in the SketchUp Extension Warehouse. Simply search for Chris Fulmer in the Extension Warehouse or look for CLF TOOLS. THANK YOU CHRIS!!!

Chris Fulmer SketchUp Extensions - CLF TOOLS

Chris Fulmer, a landscape architect, has many excellent tools on the SketchUp Extension Warehouse.

(3) CLF - Scale and Rotate Multiple

This excellent tool replaces the Ruby Script Randor. Scale and Rotate Multiple, among other things, allows you to randomize the scale and rotation of selected objects and components. It’s IDEAL for randomizing vegetation size and positions. It is a must have script if you are modeling site plans with vegetation.

(4) CLF - Color By Slope

Color By Slope is a SketchUp slope analysis tool. Select your surfaces (best suited for a terrain model), input two color values and this extension will color the selected faces based on their slope. While it won’t color slopes based on specific grade values, it’s a quick and easy way to view terrain grades for fast studies.

CLF - Color By Slope

CLF Color by Slope: Yellow and blue were the selected colors for the slopes map. The extension colored surfaces ranging from yellow (flat) to blue (steep), displaying a color gradient showing the range of flat to steep surfaces.

(5) CLF – Color By Z

Color By Z will color selected faces and even better, terrain, based on elevation. Select the terrain mesh (not the group but all the loose faces), select two colors and the extension will color the surfaces based on their height, displaying surfaces with a gradient of color from highest to lowest.

CLF – Color By Z

CLF Tools Color By Z shows elevation colors from green (low) to red (high).

(6) CLF – Shape Bender

CLF – Shape Bender

On the top is a simple ramp and wall. The ramp and wall can be bent with the Shape Bender extension to match the arc. The result (bottom image) is a curving sloping wall and ramp.

(7) and (8) Vali Architecture Series – Instant Fence and Instant Wall

Chuck Vali, an architect by practice, programs SketchUp extensions for “beer money” (as he says it), and has created powerful and must have plugins. He previously brought us Instant Road, Instant Roof and Instant Grade. He has two new scripts that are a must have. These low cost extensions can save you many hours of modeling. You can find these scripts at

The two listed scripts below automate the creation of complex fences, gates, retaining walls and more. Simply draw lines and edges, combine them into a group and activate the scripts. You then choose from dozens of different types of fences or walls. The extension will automate the creation of the selected object along the selected edge, using the edges as a path.

Vali Architecture Series – Instant Fence and Instant Wall

Instant Fence allows you to select edges, then select a specific fence type. The extension will automate the creation of the fence along the selected edges.

Vali Architecture Series – Instant Fence and Instant Wall

The extension creates the selected fence along the drawn edges.

Vali Architecture Series – Instant Fence and Instant Wall

The Instant Wall extension, like Instant Fence, will generate different wall types from selected edges.

Vali Architecture Series – Instant Fence and Instant Wall

There are many (many!!) different fence and wall types that can be created with a simple click.

(9) Selection Toys by ThomThom

Selection Toys is a must have Extension for anyone using SketchUp. It simply allows you to select objects edges, components and groups with ease. It greatly extends the way you can interact, move, copy and organize your model.

It is found on the Extension Warehouse; don’t be overwhelmed by the menu. This extension is worth exploring to the fullest. Read the documentation! You won’t believe how this script will help organize and interact with SketchUp model objects and components. While you’re at it, check out the other scripts by ThomThom, who provided us with Selection Toys.

Selection Toys by ThomThom

Selection Toys Plugins as seen on the extension warehouse. A must have tool for any modeling.

(10) TopoShaper by Fredo6

Last but not definitely not least is TopoShaper. This phenomenal tool can be considered From Contour on steroids.

TopoShaper will allow you to generate a grid or mesh terrain as opposed to TIN or triangulated irregular network which is what the Sandbox FromContour generates. A mesh terrain is much easier to work with allowing for better sculpting or alteration of terrain surface when using other terrain tools like Instant Road, Artisan and even the Sandbox Smoove Tool.

The generation of the mesh is a four step process:

TopoShaper by Fredo6

(1) Import and select your contour lines and activate terrain TopoShaper

TopoShaper by Fredo6

(2) TopoShapder will enter the “CLEANSING” phase of the operation. The extension will indicate where missing contour data can be repaired and help you interpolate missing contour information. This can be a quick or long process depending on how refined you want the final terrain to appear. During this stage, you will be presented with a large flat grid representing your terrain. This is intended to make it easier to select and fix contour areas.

TopoShaper by Fredo6

(3) Next, TopoShaper will show you a preview of the final terrain. This will be in a mesh terrain form. At this stage you can adjust the mesh grid creating a small or large gridded terrain surface.

TopoShaper by Fredo6

(4) After confirming the grid spacing and are happy with the how the terrain appears, select generate terrain which will provide you with the final result.

Check out Toposhaper on SketchUcation:

It can also be accessed using the SketchUcation Plugin Store extension. It does take some getting used to but is not hard to use. The script was created by Fredo6, who has created a bunch of extensions for terrain modeling.

Daniel Tal is a landscape architect who has published two books on SketchUp: Google SketchUp for Site Design and Rendering In SketchUp. Check out his website