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Tour Your Art Museum!

Matt Biddulph on Flickr

In Part 1 of this project we created an art museum, complete with framed paintings and labels on the walls.

In this second part of the project, we’ll create a “guided tour” of the museum, by saving views as scenes.

All you need for this project is SketchUp in your internet browser. SketchUp is a free and fun web-based program for 3D modeling. You can use SketchUp to design just about anything, from furniture to a dream bedroom to an entire city. Go to https://app.sketchup.com/app.

If you modeled your own art museum, you can use that model for this project. If not, you can download the museum model that I made. Click the 3D Warehouse icon from the toolbar along the right side. In the window that appears, enter “beanz” in the search field, and be sure to search for Models.

Find the Beanz Art Museum model by Bonnie R, and click the Download icon.

If you see a message about importing a large model, click Import anyway. For most decent computers, this model should work just fine.

The model should now be attached to your cursor, and you can click to “drop” it anywhere. It’s generally best to stick close to the model origin – the point where the three axes meet.

Once the model is imported, it’s brought in as a component.

Because we’re not doing anything to the actual model, it’s fine to leave it as a component. But if you wanted to make changes, you would want to right-click on the model and choose Explode.

To unselect the model, right-click anywhere in blank space.

The first thing we’ll do is add a ceiling to the museum. This is because we’ll be saving views of a “camera” looking at each painting, and these views will look strange with open sky above the walls.

To trace around the ceiling, press L for the Line tool. Start by clicking two corner points along the outer edge of one wall. Be sure to look for the green “Endpoint” dot each time you click.

Keep clicking corner points until the whole ceiling face is filled in.

To give the roof some thickness, press P for the Push/Pull tool, and pull up the ceiling just a bit.

The ceiling should be a single object. To select the entire ceiling, press the Spacebar for the Select tool, and triple-click (three times fast) on any part of the ceiling. Because the rest of the model is a component, only the ceiling should be selected.

Then right-click on any selected face of the ceiling, and choose Make Group.

Now that the ceiling is one object, it’s easier to show and hide. And to do that, we’ll be using a tag.

Click the Tags icon along the right, which opens the Tags window. Then click the Add Tag icon.

Name the tag “Ceiling,” and click its Eye icon to hide the tag.

To assign this new tag to the ceiling, right-click on the ceiling group and choose Entity Info. This window has a field for the selected object’s tag – the ceiling is currently untagged.

Click the “Untagged” tag and switch the tag to the ceiling tag. Because this tag is hidden, the ceiling disappears.

When creating the scenes we’re about to set up for each painting, it’s best to have the ceiling hidden, so that we can “get inside” to place the camera. So navigate around to a view like this, where you can see most of the floor.

Open the Scenes window and click the Add Scene icon.

This saves the current view as a scene that you can go back to anytime. The scene is created with a default name, which you can click to change it, to something like “Inside.”

Now we can start playing with the Camera tools. You can find them on the left side of the screen, in a flyout from the second-to-last tool on the toolbar. The one we’ll start with is Position Camera.

This tool uses a click-and-drag. Start on the floor in front of the first painting you want in the first scene. Keep the mouse pressed, and drag the mouse into the painting itself.

The view changes so that you’re facing the painting from the floor.

The reason you’re looking up at the painting is that the default height from the floor is zero. In other words, the default view is what a bug on the floor would see. If you look at the Eye Height field in the lower right corner, it should have a zero.

To raise the camera view, just type something like 6’ – remember the ‘ symbol if you’re working in feet and inches. Don’t click in the Eye Height field, just type and the numbers will appear there. When you press Enter, the camera is raised, and you’re probably looking up at the sky. But the active tool is now Look Around – you should see an Eye icon. Just drag the mouse straight down, like moving your eyes down.

If you’re too close to the painting, you’ll want to “walk” backwards. You can do this with the Walk tool.

Start anywhere, and slowly click and drag straight down, to simulate walking backwards. SketchUp won’t let you walk through walls, so you’ll be able to walk just until you hit the back wall.If you do go too far back, just drag forward a bit.

Once you have a view you like, looking at the painting and its label, turn the ceiling tag back on.

Now add a new scene, which you can name after the painting.

Those are the scene-creation steps, which you can now repeat for all of the other paintings. So, for the second painting, start by returning to the “Inside” scene by clicking the scene thumbnail. With the ceiling hidden again, you can use Position Camera to face the second painting.

Change the eye height, look around to face the painting, and walk back if needed.

Turn the ceiling back on, and save this scene.

Keep going with these steps, until each painting has its own scene.

Now you can present the animated tour of your museum, by clicking each scene one by one, in order. Unfortunately, the SketchUp web app doesn’t have a way to play the animation automatically, or to export an animation (the desktop version of SketchUp does have these features). But there are many free screen-recording apps you can use, which you can use to create an animation file. You can even add background music.

Learn More

Walking through a model


Make walk-throughs in Sketchup