3-D Layout Modeling: SketchUp

SketchUp is a 3-D modelling program, frequently used for architecture, interior design, and game design. After being acquired by Google in 2006, a free version of SketchUp was made available for home and personal use. Event though SketchUp was acquired by Trimble Navigation in 2012, they have so far contiued to support the freeware version of the software, although now marketed under the name SketchUp Make.

When planning layouts 3-D modeling is not really necessary and can, in fact, take much longer to do. What you get, though, is the ability to create scenes that are viewable from any angle. The SketchUp file format is also supported by numerous 3-D rendering packages, allowing you to create photorealistic scenes. One of the best known tools, POV-Ray, is available for free and combines both raytracing and radiosity modeling.

What's in the model file?

Components that represent most BRIO "standard" track pieces. Specifically, the model file contains components for:

A, A1, A2, A3, B, B1, B2, C, C1, C2, D, E, E1, EE, EE1, F, F1, F2, G, G1, G2, H, H1, H2, H3, I, J, K, K1, L, M, N, N1, O, O1, P, P1, R, S, T (new version), U, V, X

In addition to the standard track, it includes a model of the #33355 Track Support.

I've created a wood texture that is not really a beech wood grain, but it is close in color and good enough for casual modeling. Chamfering and corner rounding is used liberally to enhance the track's appearance.

To view the components, go to the Window menu and check Components. To view the components in the model, select the home button in the Components window.


Here are some handy tips and tricks for laying out pieces:

  1. Don't explode components. This is just asking for trouble. When you explode components, they are turned in to individual edges and faces, and will interact with other unexploded objects. Faces and lines will merge and intersect, and so on.
  2. Use the "flip along" option in the context menu to flip switches, curves, and ascending track for proper orientation. Right click on the component and select "Flip Along", choosing the components red, green, or blue axis as needed.
  3. Snap track together by using corners as the reference points rather than track centerlines. It's much, much easier.


Download the SketchUp Model

The SketchUp Model file has components pre-made for repesenting BRIO track pieces.

Name: 3d_model_20141015
Size: 6.41 MB
Last Update: October 15th, 2014

What's new?

Reamed Y and Z to F2 and G2, reespectively. Added A3, B, B1, C, C1 and H2.


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