Let’s be straight: importing .obj models or large .stl files to SketchUp can be really upsetting. Long loading times, (very) complex geometries and even bugsplats are some of the many problems you can face in this process.
I’m going to describe an easy way to import an .obj file called “Demon Head 1” to SketchUp. You can find this file for free at TurboSquid. It’s about 36 Mb, and it has too much detail to import it directly to SketchUp. So we’re going to simplify this file using 3D Builder and then importing it to SketchUp.
First, let’s clarify a few things: 3D Builder is a free app for Windows 10. This software is (mainly) for 3D printing, but it has a couple of interesting tools we can take advantage.
Step 1: 3D Builder
- Open 3D Builder and Load the file you want to simplify. Supported file formats are .obj, .stl, .3mf, .wrl and .ply
- Confirm the File’s Units (in this case, inches)
- (optional) You can rotate 90 degrees the model. (fig.1)
- Go to Edit and use the Simplify command. For this model, I’ve used it four times. (fig.2 steps 1 & 2)
- Save the file as .STL. To avoid long importing times, a file size lighter than 3 Mb is recommended. (fig.2 step 3)
Step 2: SketchUp
- We need a free extension made by the SketchUp Team called SketchUp STL. You can install it through the Extension Warehouse.
- Go to File > Import and set Stereo Lithography Files (.stl) as file format. Then select the .stl file you’ve saved at the end of Step 1 and push the Import button.
- Select the imported geometry and use Soften Edges to smooth its surface.
And that’s all! It wasn’t so difficult, was it? We will save a lot of time if we simplify our models before importing them into SketchUp. As simple as that!