SketchUp Tools For Drawing in 3D

The free version of SketchUp offers many tools for drawing in 3D.

Following is a list of them and how to use them.

Select Tool

Select items and objects in the model.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on an item or object.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Ctrl = Add an item to the selection set.
  • Hold Shift = Add and/or subtract an item to/from the selection set.
  • Hold Shift+Ctrl = Subtract an item from a selection set.

Tips

  • Double-click a face to select the face and all of its edges.
  • Double-click an edge to select the edge and the faces that share it.
  • Triple-click an edge or face to select all connected items.
  • Double-click an object to edit it.
  • Ctrl+A = Select all visible items in the model.
  • Ctrl+T = Deselect all selected items in the model.

Lasso Tool

Make precise selections.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag to draw selection boundary.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Ctrl = Add an item to the selection set.
  • Hold Shift = Add and/or subtract an item to/from the selection set.
  • Hold Shift+Ctrl = Subtract an item from a selection set.

Tips

  • Drag to the right to create a window selection that will capture items entirely within the selection boundary.
  • Drag to the left to create a crossing selection that will capture anything the selection boundary touches.
  • Make single-click selections just like the Select tool.

Eraser Tool

Erase entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on entity to erase. Alternatively, hold down mouse button drag over entities. All entities are erased when mouse button is released.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle soften and smooth edges.
  • Alt = Toggle unsmooth edges and unhide edges and objects.
  • Shift = Toggle hide edges and objects.
  • Ctrl + Shift = Toggle deselect edges and objects selected by the eraser tool.

Paint Bucket Tool

Assign colors and materials to items and objects.

Tool Operation

  1. (Optional) Preselect the items or objects that you want to paint.
  2. Select a materials library using drop down list in Materials Browser.
  3. Select a material from materials library.
  4. Click on faces to paint.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Sample material for painting.
  • Shift = Toggle paint all faces with matching materials.
  • Ctrl = Toggle paint all connected faces with matching materials.
  • Shift + Ctrl = Toggle paint all faces on the same object with matching materials.

Line Tool

Draw edges or line entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set the first point.
  2. Move cursor.
  3. Click to set the second point (creating an edge).
  4. (Optional) Move cursor.
  5. (Optional) Click to set a third point.
  6. (Optional) Repeat step 4-5 to create additional connected edges.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Cycle through linear inference options (All On; All Off; Parallel/Perpendicular Only).
  • Hold Shift = Lock Line tool to the current direction inference.
  • Arrow keys = Lock Line tool to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Once you’ve drawn a closed loop of at least 3 coplanar edges, a face will fill in automatically.

Freehand Tool

Create hand-drawn curve entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag to draw a freehand curve.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Decrease the segments of the last drawn freehand curve.
  • Alt = Increase the segments of the last drawn freehand curve.
  • Before an operation, use arrow keys to lock the drawing plane of a curve (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Segments may only be modified immediately after creating a curve.

Arc Tool

Draw Arc entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set arc’s center. Optionally, click and drag first point to set drawing plane.
  2. Move cursor to define first arc point or enter radius.
  3. Click to set first arc point.
  4. Move cursor around the protractor guide or enter angle.
  5. Click to set second arc point.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys (before 1st click) = Lock protractor rotation axis direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • Arrow keys (after 1st click) = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Click Window > Model Info > Units > Angle Units to change snapping angle.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.

2-Point Arc Tool

Draw 2-Point Arc entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set start point of arc.
  2. Click at ending point of arc or enter value.
  3. Click to set bulge distance or enter value to finish arc.

Tool Operation (Tangent Inference locked)

  1. Click to set start point of arc at an existing edge or vertex.
  2. Click an end point for arc, or enter value.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Lock tangent arc drawing.
  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.
  • When multiple edges intersect, define tangency by hovering over one of the edges before starting the arc.

3-Point Arc Tool

Draw 3-Point Arc entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set start point of arc.
  2. Click to set second point. The arc will always go through this point.
  3. Click to finish the arc, or enter an angle to define arc’s section of a circle.

Tool Operation (Tangent Inference locked)

  1. Click to set start point of arc at an existing edge or vertex.
  2. Click an end point for arc, or enter value.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Lock tangent arc drawing.
  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.
  • When multiple edges intersect, define tangency by hovering over one of the edges before starting the arc.

Pie Tool

Draw Pie entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set pie’s center. Optionally, click and drag first point to set drawing plane.
  2. Move cursor to define first arc point or enter radius.
  3. Click to set first arc point.
  4. Move cursor around the protractor guide or enter angle.
  5. Click to set second arc point.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys (before 1st click) = Lock protractor rotation axis direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • Arrow keys (after 1st click) = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Click Window > Model Info > Units > Angle Units to change snapping angle.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.

Rectangle Tool

Draw rectangular face entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set first corner.
  2. Move cursor diagonally.
  3. Click to set second corner.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle drawing from center.
  • Hold Shift = Lock Rectangle to current drawing plane inference.
  • Arrow keys = Toggle lock drawing plane inference (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • When drawing rectangles, you can specify length & width by separating the measurements with a comma. For example: to draw a two foot by four foot rectangle, you can enter 2', 4' into the measurement box. The order of the measurements matches the order of the axes (R, G, B). For example: Red, then Green; Red, then Blue; or Green, then Blue.

Rotated Rectangle Tool

Draw rectangular face entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set first corner. Optionally, click and drag first point to set drawing plane.
  2. Move your cursor around the protractor to set the direction of the first edge.
  3. Click to set second corner.
  4. Move your cursor to set the length and angle of the second edge.
  5. Click to set third and final corner.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Alt (after 1st click) = Lock drawing plane for first edge.
  • Alt (on a locked plane, after first click) = Set protractor baseline.
  • Alt (after 2nd click) = Set protractor baseline.
  • Arrow keys (before 1st click) = Lock protractor rotation axis direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • Arrow keys (after 1st click) = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Circle Tool

Draw Circle entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set center point.
  2. Move cursor away from center point to define radius.
  3. Click to finish circle.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys (before 1st click) = Lock surface normal (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • Arrow keys (after 1st click) = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.

Polygon Tool

Draw Polygon entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set center point.
  2. Move cursor away from center point to define radius.
  3. Click to finish polygon.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Lock current inference direction.
  • Ctrl = Toggle between inscribed and circumscribed radii of polygon.
  • Arrow keys (before 1st click) = Lock surface normal (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • Arrow keys (after 1st click) = Lock drawing direction to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Ctrl '+' or Ctrl '-'= Change the number of segments.

3D Text Tool

Push/Pull Tool

Push and pull face entities to add or subtract volume from your 3D models.

Tool Operation

  1. (Optional) Preselect the face that you want to push/pull.
  2. Click on a face to start push/pulling.
  3. Move cursor to push or pull face.
  4. Click to set face or enter distance.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle create new starting face.
  • Alt = Toggle Stretch mode.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation and clear selection.
  • When a face is pre-selected, you can click anywhere in the model to begin push/pulling it, and then click anywhere to set it down.
  • Double-click to repeat a Push/Pull distance, in the same direction.

Follow Me Tool

Extrude a face along a path.

Tool Operation (Nothing Pre-selected)

  1. Click the face of the profile that you want to extrude.
  2. Move cursor along the edge or edges that you want the profile to follow.
  3. Click to set the extrusion.

Tool Operation (Preselect Path)

  1. Use the Select tool to pre-select a continuous set of edges to define the path.
  2. (Alternatively) Pre-select a face to define the perimeter of the face as the path.
  3. Activate the Follow Me tool.
  4. Click the face of the profile that you want to extrude.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Use perimeter of face as the path.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Offset Tool

Create copies of lines at a uniform distance from originals.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on a face.
  2. Move cursor.
  3. Click to finish offset operation.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Toggle allow/trim overlap.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Outer Shell Tool

Combine all selected solid objects into a single solid object and remove interior items.

Tool Operation

  1. Select first solid object.
  2. Select second solid object.
  3. Select next solid object or press Esc to complete.

Move Tool

Move or copy entities, and/or rotate objects.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on an entity or object to pick it up.
  2. Move cursor to move entity or object to a new location.
  3. Click to set it down or enter a distance.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Cycle Move/Copy/Stamp.
  • Alt = Toggle Autofold mode (useful for overriding Move tool constraints); when hovered over an object, use Alt to cycle through grip types.
  • Shift = Lock Move to the current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys = Toggle lock inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • When items are pre-selected, you can click anywhere in the model to begin moving them, and then click anywhere to set them down. This is an effective way to move things precisely and/or align things to other things.
  • Click the red crosshairs that appear on the bounding box of an object to rotate that object.
  • After moving a copy, you can type a number followed by the X key and then press Enter to create an array of copies.

Rotate Tool

Rotate, stretch, distort, or copy items or objects along a rounded path.

Tool Operation

  1. (Optional) Preselect the items or objects you want to rotate.
  2. Click on an item or object to both make a selection and set the center point of rotation.
  3. Move cursor to indicate start point of rotation.
  4. Click to set starting point of rotation.
  5. Move cursor to indicate end point of rotation.
  6. Click to complete rotation, or enter angle in degrees.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle rotate a copy.
  • Before first click, hold Shift to lock protractor inference.
  • Before first click, use arrow keys to toggle the protractor inference lock direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • After first click, use arrow keys to toggle rotation inference lock direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • During Step #2 of the tool operation steps above, you can click-drag the protractor along an edge or axis to set an axis of rotation.
  • After rotating a copy, you can type a number followed by the letter X and then press Enter to create a rotated array of copies.
  • When inputting rotation values into the Measurements box, you can enter either an angle of rotation, in degrees (for example 45 Enter),or a slope expressed as a rise:run architectural slope notation (for example 4:12 Enter).

Scale Tool

Resize or stretch items and objects.

Tool Operation

  1. (Optional) Preselect the items or objects you want to scale.
  2. Click on a face or object.
  3. Click on a Scale grip.
  4. Move cursor to resize or stretch item or object.
  5. Click to finish scaling item or object.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle scale about center.
  • Shift = Toggle uniform scale.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • Click a corner grip for 3-way scale. Default = Uniform. Pressing Shift = Non-uniform.
  • Click a midline grip for 2-way scale. Default = Non-uniform. Pressing Shift = Uniform.
  • Click a center grip for 1-way scale. Default = Non-uniform. Pressing Shift = Uniform.
  • When scaling an item or object you have the option to enter either a scale factor (for example 2.5 Enter will make the things you’re scaling 250%, or two and a half times bigger), or you can simply input the size that you want the thing you’re scaling to be (for example, if scaling up along the blue axis direction, 6' Enter will make the selection six feet tall).

Tape Measure Tool

Measure distances, create guide lines, or scale a model.

Tool Operation

  1. Click at starting point of measurement.
  2. Move cursor.
  3. Click at ending point of measurement.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle create guide lines.
  • Hold Shift = Lock Tape Measure to current inference direction.
  • Arrow keys = Lock Tape Measure to specific inference direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • After measuring from point to point, you can input a distance to scale/resize the model.
  • When in Create Guide mode, begin on an edge to create a guide of infinite length; begin on a point to create a guide of finite length.

Dimension Tool

Place Dimension entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click at starting point of dimension.
  2. Move cursor.
  3. Click at ending point of dimension.
  4. Move cursor to pull out the dimension string.
  5. Click to set the dimension string.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Text Tool

Create Text entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on an entity to indicate ending point of leader line (location where leader will point).
  2. Move cursor to position text.
  3. Click to place text.
  4. (Optional) Click in text box.
  5. (Optional) Enter text in text box.
  6. Click outside text box to complete operation.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Section Plane Tool

Create section cuts through your model or objects.

Tool Operation

  1. Click on a face to create a section plane that is aligned to that face.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift (before 1st click) = Lock section plane to current orientation.
  • Arrow keys = Toggle lock section plane orientation (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).

Tips

  • It’s possible to activate multiple section planes at the same time, as long as the section planes are in different contexts. For example, you can activate one section plane through the model, and then activate another section plane through a group or component object and have both planes active at the same time.

Protractor Tool

Measure angles and create angled guide line entities.

Tool Operation

  1. Place protractor’s center at vertex of angle.
  2. Click to set vertex. (Alternatively: click and drag first point to set rotation plane.)
  3. Move cursor in circle until touching start of angle.
  4. Click to set start of angle.
  5. Move cursor in circle until touching end of angle.
  6. Click to measure angle.

Modifier Keys

  • Ctrl = Toggle create guide lines.
  • Before first click, hold Shift to lock protractor inference.
  • Before first click, use arrow keys to toggle the protractor inference lock direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel).
  • After first click, use arrow keys to toggle rotation inference lock direction (→ = Red, ← = Green, ↑ = Blue, ↓ = Parallel/Perpendicular).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • When inputting rotation values into the Measurements box, you can enter either an angle of rotation, in degrees (for example 45 Enter ), or a slope expressed as a rise:run architectural slope notation (for example 4:12 Enter).

Axes Tool

Move or reorient drawing axes.

Tool Operation

  1. Click to set axis origin.
  2. Move cursor to locate direction for the red axis.
  3. Click to set the red axis.
  4. Move cursor to locate direction for the green axis.
  5. Click to set the green axis.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Alternate axis orientation (after clicking to set the origin).

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.

Tag Tool

Apply tags to objects.

Tool Operation

  1. Select a single tag in the Tags panel.
  2. Click on an item or object to assign the selected tag.

Modifier Keys

  • Alt = Sample the assigned tag from an object or item.
  • Ctrl = Apply a tag to all instances of a component.
  • Shift = Replace the current tag of all items in a given context with the selected tag.

Tips

  • Before tagging edges and faces, consider creating groups or components, and then tag the group or component instead.
  • Use ‘Select > All with Tag’ in the right-click context menu to select all items in a given context that share the same tag.
  • Color by Tag can be a useful way to identify which tags have been assigned to which items.

Walk Tool

Walk through (tour) a model.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag the cursor: Up = Walk forward; Down = Walk backward; Left = Turn left; Right = Turn right.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Float up instead of forward, or down instead of backward.
  • Hold Ctrl = Run instead of walk.
  • Hold Alt = Walk through things.

Tips

  • Esc = Cancel operation.
  • The further you drag the cursor away from the start point (indicated by crosshairs), the faster you’ll walk.

Position Camera Tool

Position camera at a specific eye height.

Tool Operation

  1. Click anywhere in the model to place the camera. The camera will be positioned above the point where you click, at the eye height distance specified in the measurements box.
  2. (Optional) Click and drag from one point in the model to another point in the model to create a target camera. The point you drag from will be the exact location where the camera will be positioned, the point you drag to will establish the camera target.

Look Around Tool

Pivot camera from a stationary point.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag the cursor to pivot the camera (i.e. look around in the model).

Tips

  • Esc = Enable previously selected tool.

Orbit Tool

Orbit camera around model.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag cursor within the drawing area to orbit the camera.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Pan tool.
  • Hold Ctrl = Suspend gravity (do not try to keep vertical edges up and down).

Tips

  • Esc = Enable previously selected tool.

Pan Tool

Move camera vertically or horizontally.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag cursor within the drawing area to pan the camera.

Tips

  • Esc = Enable previously selected tool.

Zoom Tool

Move camera in or out.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag cursor within the drawing area to zoom the camera.

Modifier Keys

  • Hold Shift = Change field of view degrees.

Tips

  • Esc = Enable previously selected tool.

Zoom Window Tool

Zoom in to a specific area of the model.

Tool Operation

  1. Click and drag the cursor across the items in the model that you want to zoom into.

Tips

  • Esc = Enable previously selected tool.

How to Draw a 3D Closet Frame Using 2×4 Objects in SketchUp

Let’s say you want to make a closet in your garage and you want to create the frame using 2×4 lumber. It’s helpful to draw this in 3D to visualize the design. This post will show you how to do it using the free web version of SketchUp.

Set length units and precision

First, under Model Info, we set the length format and precision. Since a 2×4 piece of wood is actually 1.5″ x 3.5″, let’s set the length and precision to 1/2″.

Create 2×4 objects that represent stock lumber

To simplify creating the closet frame out of 2x4s in 3D, we’ll first create 2×4 objects that are any length, e.g. 12 inches long, along each axis (x, y, and z). To do this, we’ll first create a 2×4 rectangle as follows:

Choose the rectangle tool.

Click and drag anywhere until you see a rectangle.

Before clicking a second time, type “1.5,3.5” (without quotes) to manually specify the dimensions and then hit Enter. What you type will show up in the Dimensions field in the bottom right corner.

You will see the rectangle as shown below.

Now, we want to pull the rectangle to create a 12-inch long object representing a piece of wood. Click the Push / Pull tool.

Zoom in, if necessary. Then, click on the face of the rectangle and drag up. Do not click as doing so will set the length. Instead, type “12” (without quotes) to specify the length in inches to pull the rectangle to create a 12″ long 2×4. Then, hit Enter.

Now that we have one piece of 2×4 in one direction. Let’s copy and paste it twice to create two more pieces in the other two directions. Click the “Select” tool.

Drag a rectangle around the entire object you just created to select all of it. The object will turn blue as shown below.

Click Copy / Ctrl+C and then Paste / Ctrl+V to paste a clone of that object. Do this twice.

Now, select the 2nd object and then click the Rotate tool.

Click somewhere on the object and then click again to start rotating the object. Don’t click a third time since doing so would set the rotation angle. Instead, type “90” (without quotes) to rotate the object by 90 degrees.

Do the same with the 3rd copy of the object but rotate it in a different direction.

Come to think of it, we should make 3 more copies of the object and rotate them so we can have 2x4s in all 6 perpendicular directions. If you’re having a hard time selecting one entire object using the “Select” tool because it’s too close to another object, try using the “Lasso” selection tool.

Now we’ve got our 2×4 building blocks which we can move to the side and clone to create the closet frame. I’ll select all 6 objects and move them as shown below.

Now, we’ll create a closet frame by first cloning one of the building blocks, moving the clone, and pulling it to change its length. I’ll start with the back left corner of the closet frame. When I copied and pasted one of the 2×4 objects, I clicked on the origin to position the object there.

Let’s say we want our closet frame to be 80 inches tall. I’ll switch to the Push / Pull tool, click on the face of the object that I want to pull, drag up, and then type 80 to set the length to 80 inches.

Since we want all corners to be 80 inches tall, we can clone the first 80-inch tall object three more times and position them as far as we want from each other. When you paste a copy of an object, you will see tooltips that help you align the object relative to the axes and to other objects.

Above, we see a copy of the 80-inch tall 2×4 but we don’t know how far it is from the first 80-inch 2×4. Click the Dimensions tool.

Then, click on each of the two endpoints of the distance you want to measure. In this example, the distance is 2′ 8.5″.

Let’s select the 2nd object and then click the Move tool so we can move the object to be 2 feet away from the other object.

Click on one corner / endpoint and then drag such that the distance becomes 2 feet.

When dragging, you’ll see tips such as “On Red Axis” which will help you stay on the same plane and only move in one direction. Below, we now see the distance between both objects is 2 feet.

Repeat the above steps for the remaining parts.

To learn more, including how to move and align objects relatively and absolutely, read my other SketchUp article.

Make a Video Tour Using Google Earth Pro

I just came back from Istanbul and wanted to make a video using my new Insta360 ONE X2 360 degree camera. To make viewers feel like they’re joining me on the trip, I wanted to include video clips showing movement from one place to another. This was easy to do using Google Earth Pro on desktop. Here’s are some examples.

In the video below, there are 4 “places”

  • San Francisco (zoomed in)
  • San Francisco (zoomed out to space)
  • Istanbul (zoomed out to space)
  • Istanbul (zoomed in)

Here’s how to make the video.

Add “Places”

To add a place, you can search for the place using the Search field. Then, zoom in or out to your desired elevation. When you like the view of the place, click the “Add Placemark” button to add a yellow pin to the place. If you want the place label to appear in the map, check the checkbox beside the place name.

If you right click on a place under “My Places” and click on “Properties”, you can rename the place, change the camera elevation (range), etc.

Record a Tour

When you’re doing adding places, click the Record a Tour button in the toolbar.

This will open a record.

Click on the first place (San Francisco) and then click the red Record button. Then, click on each place in the order you want them to appear in the video. Google Earth 3D will animate from one place to another as you are recording in real time. When you are done, click the Record button again to stop recording. You’ll then see a video player control bar.

Click the Play button to play the video. If you are happy with it, click the floppy disk (seriously, Google?) button to save the video. It will add a video item to the list of places.

Export the Video

To export the video, click Tools > Movie Maker. If it is grayed out, close the video player control bar.

Specify a file path and name, choose video parameters (e.g. 1080p), and an output file type (e.g. H.264), and then click the “Create Movie” button.

Convert Video

The video will be exported but you may not be able to open it in certain applications like Corel VideoStudio even though it opens in VLC. To fix this, install Handbrake and convert the video to MP4 format.

Other Examples

You can make videos from other angles and elevations as well. For example, if you hold the Shift key and drag, you can rotate your view. Then, add a place marker at the view you want to save. Google Earth Pro will animation smoothly from each place marker. For example, here’s a video going from the Sulemaniye mosque to the Grand Bazaar.

Easily Create a House Tour Video Using a 360° Camera

This article is based on using the Insta360 ONE X2. Let’s say you want to make a video tour of your house. You’re not a pro, you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you don’t really know what you’re doing, but you do want a video tour of each room of your house for marketing purposes, for example. Here’s an example of a house tour but only showing one room (area) – the backyard.

Here’s one easy way to do it using the Insta 360 ONE X2.

Put the camera on a tripod in a room

For this example, I put the camera in the backyard as shown below.

Start recording and leave the room

In post editing, we’ll trim the beginning of the video so you’re not in it.

Wait a while, e.g. 40 seconds

It’s up to you how long you want to wait. In the video above, the duration is 18 seconds. If you mess up and the video is too short, you can slow it down in post editing to twice the duration or 4 times the duration. In the example backyard video above, the duration is 37 seconds.

Go back into the room and stop recording

In post editing, we’ll trim the end of the video so you’re not in it.

Transfer the video to your computer

I just use a USB-C cable to transfer the video. Note that each video has 3 files because the video is unstitched and has the proprietary .insv (Insta360 Video) file extension.

Edit the video in Insta360 Studio

Open the video (you can just open one of the 3 insv files) and start editing.

  1. Enable Flowstate Stabilization (although maybe that’s not necessary since the camera is static on a tripod)
  2. Move the left trim marker to where you want the video to begin (the point after you’ve left the room)
  3. Move the right trim marker to where you want the video to end (the point before you reenter the room)
  4. Set the aspect ratio to 16:9 (standard TV screen size)
  5. Add 5 keyframes (indicated in yellow circles) on the timeline with the following specs

Keyframe 1

Timestamp = beginning of video in timeline
Pan angle = 0°
View = Natural view

Keyframe 2

Timestamp = 25% of the duration of the video from the beginning
Pan angle = 90°
View = Natural view

Keyframe 3

Timestamp = 50% of the duration of the video from the beginning
Pan angle = 180°
View = Natural view

Keyframe 4

Timestamp = 75% of the duration of the video from the beginning
Pan angle = 270°
View = Natural view

Keyframe 5

Timestamp = end of the video in the timeline
Pan angle = 360°
View = Natural view

Insta360 Studio converts 360° to 1×0°.

Choose a transition

Between each keyframe, you can click on the yellow line to pick a transition type. The default is “Smooth Dissolve” which is recommended.

Adjust video speed

If the video is too short or too long, you can slow it down (2x or 4x) or speed it up (2x, 4x, 6x, 8x, 16x, 32x, 64x). Just click the lightning icon and drag from the beginning to the end of the clip. Then click on the pink bar to change the speed.

Export the video

In the dialog box, you can choose either H.264 or H.265.

H.265 produces a smaller file size but takes longer to render compared to H.264 for the same level of video quality.

For example, for an 18 second video

  • H.264 – 85 MB
  • H.265 – 55 MB

If you’re just going to upload the video to YouTube, then you might want to just pick H.264 since the time to upload a larger file may be quicker than the extra time to render in H.265. Rendering the video will stitch the video together and produce a mp4 file which can be opened and viewed in most video applications.

Repeat for each room or area of the house

Once you’ve editing the videos for each room and exported them as MP4s, you can use any regular non-360 video editor to combine the clips together, add background music, text overlays, etc.

Here’s an example of the master bathroom with additional rotation to show the ceiling.

Again, the camera was just placed in the center of the room.

Take Pictures of Things By Pointing at Other Things Using a 360° Camera

Have you ever wanted to take a picture of something but weren’t sure if it was allowed or felt unsure if people would be offended if they saw you point your camera at them? If so, one way around this is by taking pictures using a 360° camera like the Insta360 ONE X2.

Since the camera can take a picture of everything around you, you can point the camera at a 90° angle or 180° away from the object you want to take a picture of. Then, in post editing, just drag the picture around to face the object of interest and click the snapshot button to export a regular, flat picture. By pointing your camera away and looking away from your object of interest, no one would know that you’re actually taking a picture of something else.

Taking & Editing 360° Videos Using the Insta360 ONE X2

This article will not explain all of the ways to take and edit 360° videos using the Insta360 ONE X2. Rather, it will just explain my preferred method.

Decide How to Hold the Camera

There are different ways to hold the camera.

Insta360 Selfie Stick with Built in Tripod

With this selfie stick, you can hold the camera away from you to take selfie videos or put the tripod on a flat surface.

STUNTMAN Pack Mount – Backpack Shoulder Strap Mount

This mount straps onto a backpack strap. It comes with a 1/4″ screw connector to connect the Insta360 One X2 to it. It is very secure and well made.

STUNTMAN 360 – Shoulder & Waist Mount

This mount can be used to hold the Insta360 One X2 by your shoulder, at the center of your chest or by your waist. It comes with a 1/4″ screw connector to connect the Insta360 One X2 to it. It’s also very secure. Note that if you hole the camera by your waist and you film while walking, your hands may get in the video. Therefore, you may way to keep your hands in your pocket while walking and filming.

If you are just walking around, e.g. sightseeing, and want to take videos here and there, I think carrying the selfie stick attached to the camera with a lens protector in your pants pocket would work since you could easily just take it out at a moment’s notice for quick shots. If you’re wearing jeans, the sticking it in your pants pocket with the camera down is not ideal but beats having to carrying and putting it in a backpack.

If you are wearing cargo pants like the Columbia trek pants pictured below, then putting the camera in one of the lower pockets works but it could easily be pickpocketed. The good thing about this particular pocket is it’s on the side.

Enable Quick Capture

This mode lets you push the shutter button to do two things at once

  • Turn on the camera and start recording
  • Turn off the camera and stop recording

While traveling, this can be really handy since you won’t have to waste time clicking two different buttons and waiting in between.

Enable Standard Video Mode

This mode is for regular video shooting. Other modes are HDR, Timelapse, Timeshift and Bullet Time. HDR is only good for when you are filming on a tripod and not moving.

Disable Prompt Sound

By default, when you turn on and off the camera or start and stop recording, you will hear an annoying beep. Disable this “Prompt Sound”. To know whether the camera is on, off, or recording, just look at the light status.

  • Light off = camera off
  • Light solid blue = camera on
  • Light slowly flashing red = video shooting

Press The Shutter Button to Start Filming

While you are out and about traveling and you want to start filming, just press the shutter button once. Since Quick Capture will be enabled, you won’t need to turn the camera on first.

Press The Shutter Button to Stop Filming

When you are done filming, just press the shutter button once again. Since Quick Capture will be enabled, you won’t need to turn the camera off as it will turn off automatically (and save battery).

Install the Insta360 Studio Desktop App

https://www.insta360.com/download/insta360-onex2

Transfer Videos to Your Computer

Connect a USB cable between the camera and your computer. On Windows, it auto detects the camera as an external drive. You can then copy and paste the .insv files. Note that each video contains 3 .insv files. For example, below there are actually only 2 videos.

Import the .insv Files into Insta360 Studio

In the left pane, you will see thumbnails for all uploaded videos. .insv files are unstitched 360 degree files that can only be opened in the Insta360 Studio or mobile app.

Reframe the 360 Degree Video

In the right panel, you will have many options. Enable FlowState Stabilization so that the video is jerky. If you want the video view to always face one direction (front), then enable Direction Lock.

At the top, you’ll see two icons. One for edit mode and one for view mode. Ensure edit mode is on. In the video preview window, you’ll see an option to change the video aspect ratio. The most common is 16:9, e.g. for TVs and YouTube.

To reframe the 360 video, you’ll need to first add keyframes at each timestamp where you want to change the angle and lens of the video. Drag the white vertical playback bar to the very beginning of the timeline and click the + icon.

This will add a yellow circle at that timestamp indicating that a keyframe is there. Also, the + icon turns into an x icon for if you want to delete that keyframe. Clicking on the keyframe shows a window where you can choose the lens type, e.g. fisheye, etc. Choose “Natural View”. Then, drag the video preview in any direction you want so that the video beginning at that keyframe will point in that direction.

Drag the playback bar to another timestamp and repeat the steps above. You will see a yellow line connecting the two keyframes.

Clicking on the yellow line will allow you to choose a transition between the two keyframes. “Smooth Dissolve” is a good transition. If you choose “None”, for example, and the camera angle is facing the sky at keyframe 1 and facing the ground in keyframe 2, then at the beginning of keyframe 2, the video will jump from facing the sky to facing the ground.

Click the lightning icon to enable Timeshift.

Then drag in the timeline where you want the timeshift to occur and choose a speed from slowing down at 1/4 x speed to speeding up to 64 x speed.

When you are done adding keyframes, setting camera angles, and adding timeshifts, click the yellow Export button on the right of the timeline.

This will give you the many options. Choose “Reframed Video” and H.265. Then, click the Start Export button.

If the video is too dark, you can’t tweak its color settings in Insta360 Studio. You can, however, do so in a video editing program like Corel VideoStudio Pro / Ultimate. In VideoStudio Pro, double-click on a video clip in the timeline. In the Correction tab, slide the Gamma slider to the right to lighten the video. This may throw the white balance off. To fix the white balance, check its checkbox, click “Pick Color” and click on a pixel in the video that should be pure white, e.g. a white napkin.

Real-time Character Animation Lip and Facial Gesture Sync

If you want to create a video of an animated character that moves its head and lips as you move your head and speak, you can do so easily using Adobe Character Animator. Here’s how.

For this example, I’m using a character / puppet called Roger from AnimationGuides.com.

1. Import the puppet

In Adobe Character Animator, click File > Import and select the puppet file.

2. Import a green screen

Since we’ll want to overlay the exported character animation on other elements in a video editing program, we’ll want to add a green screen so we can key it out. Create a solid green image (RGB = 0,255,0) the size of the scene, e.g. 1920 x 1080. Then, import it and drag the imported item to the lowest layer it the Timeline panel.

3. Enable Puppet Track Behaviors

We can tell Adobe Character Animator which parts of our face and body to track as we move and talk in the camera. Click on the puppet layer to reveal the Puppet Track Behaviors panel.

The red button indicates that the particular item will be tracked when you move in front of the camera. For example, the Face item, when expanded, will show a red dot by “Camera Input” meaning if move your face in front of the camera, your facial gestures will be tracked and the puppet’s face will move accordingly.

For the lip sync item, the red dot is by “Audio Input” so if you speak, the microphone will capture your voice and convert it into lip movements on your puppet.

Body tracking is currently available in beta.

https://pages.adobe.com/character/en/body-tracker

4. Enable camera and microphone

For Adobe Character Animator to track your head and lip movements, you need to enable your camera and microphone. You’ll see a circle where your face should be centered in your resting position. Once centered, click the “Set Rest Pose”. You’ll then see a bunch of red dots on your face indicating points where Adobe Character Animator will track your facial gestures.

5. Start recording

Click the red record button. A 3 second countdown timer will begin. Start talking naturally and when you are done, click the red button again to stop recording.

You’ll then see some layers added to the timeline including your voice audio layer.

If some of the layers are longer than the audio layer, e.g. the puppet, Visemes and green screen layers in the screenshot above, trim the scene so the duration of the scene is the duration of the audio. Drag the right end of the gray Work Area bar to the right end of the audio track. Then, right click on that bar and click on “Trim Scene to Work Area”.

Now, your scene duration will just be the duration of the Work Area, in this case 5:20.

6. Preview and export the result

Click the play button to preview the recording. If you are happy with it. you can export it by clicking File > Export > Video via Adobe Media Encoder. This will open Adobe Media Encoder. In the Queue panel, choose a format (h.264) and preset (Match Source – High bitrate or YouTube 1080p Full HD). Then, click the green play button to start encoding.

You will see the encoding progress in the Encoding panel. You’ll also see the video duration as 5:21 seconds as that is the length of the scene in this example.

Improve Internet / Wifi Throughout House Using Existing Coaxial Cable (MoCA)

So, in my 2 story house my internet modem is in the family room in the back of the house. The internet comes over coaxial cable by Comcast xFinity 1Gbps. There is a security camera at the front of the house facing the driveway. Every now and then, the security camera would go offline. To spread wifi all over the house, I have the tp-link deco M9 plus AC2200 mesh wifi router (3 wifi access points). The backhaul between access points is wifi, unfortunately. I can’t have a wired ethernet backhaul between access points because running ethernet cable would require opening up walls which is a lot of work. Fortunately, however, there is existing coaxial cabling throughout the house. So, I can use MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance) adapters to bridge ethernet over coax so I can have a wired coax backhaul between access points. This allows the wifi signal at each access point to be much stronger than with a wifi backhaul. There are many diagrams and tutorials online but none that I found were clear enough hence this blog post. Below is my setup with a diagram which should make it clear what goes where.

https://motorolacable.com/mocawifi/

Now, if you don’t know whether some cables are connected or not, you can trace them using a continuity tester. I used the Klein Tools VDV512-101 Explorer 2 Coax Tester Kit, Includes Cable Tester / Wire Tracer / Coax Mapper with Remotes to Test up to 4 Locations ($27 on Amazon)

The continuity tester doesn’t work through splitters. Once you’ve tested all cables, you can label them in your junction box like I did below. As you can see, there is a 1 – 2 splitter where the one input is the coax cable from xfinity. The two outputs each go to the master bedroom and family room.

I added a new coax cable to go to the garage but it’s not connected in the picture because I need to add another splitter or replace the existing splitter with a 1-3 (or more) splitter. For MoCA to work, you need a splitter that

  • is not amplified
  • goes up to at least 1.5 Ghz (1500 Mhz)
GE Digital 4-Way Coaxial Cable Splitter, 2.5 GHz 5-2500 MHz

Before and After

Before

After

Powerline Adapters

You can also bridge ethernet over your home’s existing electrical wiring using Powerline adapters, e.g.

TP-Link AV600 Powerline Ethernet Adapter(TL-PA4010 KIT)

However, these adapters don’t work if there’s a surge suppressor. Also, there’s a lot more activity in your home electrical wiring that could interfere with the signal, e.g. from the refrigerator, hair dryers, air conditioners, washing machines, and other appliances.

Faster Wifi With Mesh Network Using Wired Backhaul

It’s pretty clear now that mesh networks produce stronger wifi signals throughout larger spaces when compared to regular wifi routers even with range extenders. But, many mesh networks only instruct users to connect each router over wifi. While this may be fine in some situations, e.g. where you can’t run ethernet between a main router and a satellite, having a wired backhaul produces a much better wifi signal coming out of the downstream satellite router. Here are instructions to set this up using the TP-LINK Deco AX1800 X20 (W3600 if you bought it from Walmart).

Steps

  1. Restart the modem
  2. Follow the instructions to set up the main router
  3. Follow instructions to set up the satellite router over wifi (default)

When the light on the satellite turns green, then you know the satellite router is connected to the main router. At this point, since you haven’t connected an ethernet cable between the two routers, the connection is over wifi. You can verify this by opening the Deco app and clicking the satellite router. You should see the “Signal Source” value the wifi symbol followed by 2.4GHz/5GHz.

If you have a laptop or smartphone that is connected to the satellite router, you can run a speed test. In this example, I have a laptop that is connected over wifi to the satellite router. After running a speed test, connect an ethernet cable between the two routers. The light on the satellite router will turn red temporarily and then turn green when connected. Similarly, the satellite router’s status in the app will appear disconnected. Click the refresh button and you should see the “Signal Source” value change to “Ethernet” and shown in the screenshot below. This confirms that you are using a wired backhaul.

Now, run a wifi speed test from the satellite router. In my case, my laptop was still connected to the satellite router. The wifi speed test results were clearly much faster when the satellite was connected over ethernet rather than wifi. This setup is very useful when you need a strong wifi signal very far away from your main router and you can run an long ethernet cable between routers.

Note: I got this 2 router TP-Link AX1800 mesh wifi system from Walmart for $129. At Walmart, the model number is W3600 whereas on Amazon it’s X20.

FIXED: Google Fi: International Mobile Data Enabled But Not Working

If you’re on Google Fi and landed in a another country and turned off Airplane mode and you get no data, try the following (with wifi off so you don’t get confused).

Open the Google Fi App

The app should welcome you to the country you have just landed in. However, it may also say “You’re offline”.

Update Settings

Go to Settings > Network & internet > Mobile network >

  • Ensure “Mobile data” is enabled
  • Ensure “Roaming” is enabled
  • Click “Advanced” and disable “Automatically select network”. You will then see a list of local cellular networks. Some may be G, 3G and LTE. Pick one that works, preferably a faster one.

At this point, you should be able to connect to the internet on your phone.