Sketchup for RC Part 3 – Importing Reference Drawings

Sketchup Title reference drawings

Now that we have Sketchup configured we can start working on our design.  Many people like to work on a scale design and use reference drawings or 3 views to start with.  Sketchup allows us to import a drawing that we can trace over to get a scale outline of our design.  So to start off we need to go find some reference drawings!  Just keep in mid the complexity of the aircraft you are drawing.  If this is your first design it’s best to srat with something simple such as a single wing single engine airplane with fairly straight lines.

Any search engine is your friend and will have an images search tool.  This is the quickest way to find a reference drawing to use in your project.  I prefer to use Google.  So head on out there and type in your aircraft name.  In my case I’m going to search for an Edge 540.  To get the most relevant drawing you should search for the term “3 View” along with the airplane name so in my case it will be “Edge 540 3 View”.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 2.16.59 PM

Make sure you click on the images tab to see the image search results.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 2.17.14 PM

You will want to find a good image that has both a top view and side view.  A front view is also useful when creating a full framed airframe.   Also look for something with a decent resolution preferably around 1020 x 1020 pixels.  Here I found the official FAI 3 view of an Edge 540.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 2.17.27 PM

Save this to your computer in a location you can easily access and then jump back into Sketchup.  Once back into Sketchup you want to import the image file.  To do this go to file and import.  Here you can browse to the location you saved the file and select it for import.  Click on the open button and you’ll have the image attached to your cursor.  You’ll want to click where to insert your image.  I like to bring these to the origin of the 3 axis.  Click to place it and then you’ll notice you are in a scale mode for the image.  You can adjust it to what you thinks looks good but we’ll tweak it in just a bit.

Make sure your image is clear enough to trace.  Lines might be a little fuzzy but as long as we can get a good outline from the image that will be good enough.  Now we want to size the image to be at the scale we want to draw our aircraft at.  I’m going to go with a 30″ wingspan airplane.  Stat by selecting the image and make sure it is highlighted.  Now find the tape Measure tool and click on one wingtip.  Now take the tool to the other wingtip and click again.  To resize the image you now type in on the keyboard the dimension you want that line to be so in our case we type 30″ for 30 inches.  Sketchup will ask if you want to resize the model and click yes.  This will resize the image to the 30″ we specified.


We are now ready to start tracing the outline! Stay tuned for the next article on tracing the side view and then the top view.

Again if you have any questions or comments for me please use the contact form or comment fields below.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: