I recently needed to create a new drawing from a photograph of an old house - adding windows to the buildings, people, landscaping, signage and other elements. I typically create a red pencil overlay and trace, guessing the proper scale of the new elements and sometimes not happy with the results. Here is an option for constructing your drawing by importing the photograph directly into SketchUp using the “Photo Match” tool. If the original photo shows two good faces of your subject, the resulting SketchUp model can be very accurate and make your drawing process much easier - taking the guess work out of sizing and placing entourage.
Step 1: Import a Photograph
This photograph is a great base image for Photo Match as it equally reveals two sides of the building. The building has many straight roof and wall lines making it easy to establish the perspective view. Make sure when you import the jpeg image that the option “Use as New Matched Photo” is selected.
When the image opens, a series of colored lines appear representing the perspective bars. Grab and position the red and green vanishing point grips so they align directly with roof edges and wall lines from the photograph. By doing so, you are “reverse engineering” the perspective and establishing the exact two-point perspective of the image. The yellow line represents the horizon line.
Grab the axis origin - the yellow square where the blue and red lines intersect - and reposition it to the corner point where the building meets the ground. This will establish the ground plane of the SketchUp model.
Step 4: Set your Image Scale
Find a know dimension of the subject to measure and resize your SketchUp model. In this case, I knew that the porch opening was 7 feet high. I traced the measuring tool over the opening, set the length at 7 feet and resized the model. This step is mandatory for adding components to the model.
Using your line tool, start tracing edges of the photograph (building corners and roof lines) eventually creating faces. Each face is represented with a default color. By right clicking “Project Photo”, the original photograph will be mapped onto the surface.
Save and start spinning the model around to check the accuracy of your faces and placement of the different 3-D elements. Keep returning to the scene that was automatically set up when you first began the model.
I inserted some people, a couple of 3-D trees, furniture and a car into the model. I also constructed a small outdoor deck. This is the step in which you add to and modify your scene. Have fun!
I find that you can either use the default scene which represents the original photograph view or by slightly shifting the model view, you can save a new scene which allows you to eliminate unwanted portions of the original photograph and to insert you own sky and ground color. Export your image to a high resolution jpeg or tiff - setting the “Export 2-D Graphic” format options to 4000 pixels wide. This will capture the greatest amount of detail. Print your image and then you are ready to start the drawing process!