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AECbytes Tips and Tricks Issue #25 (December 13, 2007)

Using Polygons to Make Mosaic Patterns with Google SketchUp

Bonnie Roskes
Independent Writer and Consultant

In this tutorial, we will use three polygons to make a mosaic pattern in SketchUp.

1. Before starting, make sure you’re in Top view (Camera >  Standard Views > Top).

2. Activate Polygon (if you don’t see this toolbar, select View > Toobars > Large Tool Set).

3. Type “3” to set the number of sides.

4. Create the triangle.

5. Create another triangle next to the first one.

6. Type “4s” and press Enter.

This changes the second triangle into a square.

7. Add another square, then type “6x” to change the square into a hexagon. You should now have these three shapes, shown below in red, yellow, and green.

8. Each shape must be made into its own group. To do this, use the Select tool to select both a shape and its edges. Then right-click on the shape and choose Make Group. Do this for all three shapes.


9. Open the triangle group for editing (in Select mode, double-click the triangle group).

10. Activate Tape Measure.

11. Click any two endpoints of one of the triangle edges. Its length is listed at the cursor, and in the Value Control Box.

12. Type the length you want to use and press Enter. It should be a number that’s easy to remember, because you’ll use it again! You’ll get a prompt like this; click Yes to resize the group.

This resizes the triangle, while leaving the other shapes unchanged.

13. Next, open the square for editing and use Tape Measure the same way. Use the same length value you used for the triangle.

14. Then do the same for the hexagon. When you’re done, the three shapes should look like this: all of the edges are the exact same length.

15. Now you can use Move and Rotate to place the square next to the hexagon so that their edges line up.

16. Select and Rotate the square around the center of the hexagon, using the Ctrl (Mac: Option) key to make copies. After you place the first rotated copy, type “5x” and press Enter to make the rest of the copies.

17. Now move the triangle into place, and rotate it around the same way.

18. If you want these shapes to tile perfectly, remove some squares and triangles so you’re left with this:

19. Make these shapes into a component so that you can easily make changes to all the copies.

20. Now you can copy the component into rows and columns like this:

21. And because you’re using components, you can edit any component and make changes to or add to the shapes and colors.

There are countless ways you can use shapes like these to get simple and intricate patterns. See what you can come up with using these shapes, plus octagons (8 sides) and dodecagons (12 sides).

About the Author

Bonnie Roskes is the author of Google SketchUp 6: Basic and Advanced Exercises, which is her fifth release on SketchUp. Books on Version 7 are in the works, including one for O’Reilly Media. She has also released a series of SketchUp design project books for kids age 8 – 14, along with some free resources for teachers and parents. Info on these, and also on upcoming math project books, can be found at

Bonnie has also authored books on Piranesi and OneCNC, as well as reference manuals, user guides, and tutorials for other CAD applications. She has a BS and MS in structural engineering, and worked for several years in bridge design and analysis before moving to tech writing.

Contact for info on any of her books.


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