SketchUp Wall Art: Part 2 – Alignment and Axes

Here’s where I left off after Part 1 of this series – a room with one painting (so far), brought in as an image and made into an aligned component. But as we’ll see, the default alignment assigned by SketchUp won’t work the way we want.
adding wall art in SketchUp Posters 17a


What’s the Alignment Problem?

Let’s say I want to move the painting to the adjacent wall. Here’s what happens when moving the painting – it keeps its orientation, and doesn’t turn to fit along the other wall. And this happens even though I set alignment properties for the painting. (Yeah, I could move and rotate it into place, but that’s the cheater’s way out. Not to mention it’s a little tedious.) It’s best if this painting would stick to any wall.

adding wall art in SketchUp Posters09


So I’m erasing that painting (using the Eraser or the Delete key) and starting over with a fresh one. SketchUp creates a library in your model of all components. So I can simply reinsert it. Open the Components window or tray (Window / Components or Window / Default Tray / Components) and click the House icon to see the list of components in the model. The list is alphabetical and “Band Poster” appears first. Its thumbnail’s appearance is a clue that the alignment is off – you’d think you’d see a head-on view of the painting, but it’s actually a top view.

adding wall art in SketchUp Posters 10


Click the thumbnail in the Components window, which attaches the painting component to the cursor. Wherever you move your cursor, the painting indeed aligns, but not the way it should. On the wall where I want to place the painting, it’s the narrow, bottom face of the painting that aligns to the wall.

adding wall art in SketchUp Posters 11


To fix things up, I’m placing the painting in blank space, outside the room. On the “ground,” the painting stands up vertically.adding wall art in SketchUp Posters 12


Component Axes

Right-click on the painting and choose Change Axes.adding wall art in SketchUp Posters 13


Changing a component’s axes is done in three steps. The first step is placing the new origin. The back lower left is where you want the painting to stick to its wall.adding wall art in SketchUp Posters 14

The next click sets the component’s red axis. Here’s where you need to understand this important rule: the component’s red-green plane is what aligns to a face. This painting’s red-green plane should be the back face of the painting. I’m setting the red axis along the lower back edge of the painting, which happens to also be the red direction of the overall model.adding wall art in SketchUp Posters 15


And the green axis goes along the back left edge of the painting, which corresponds to the overall model’s vertical (blue) direction.adding wall art in SketchUp Posters 16

The painting in blank space is no longer needed, so I erased it. We can reinsert the updated painting from the Components window. The painting should have its thumbnail updated to appear head-on, but maybe because of a bug somewhere (at least on my machine), it looks the same, even after a refresh of the list. adding wall art in SketchUp Posters 17


The axes change worked. When I bring in the component this time, it aligns correctly to the wall.adding wall art in SketchUp Posters17b


So that’s how you correctly define a component’s axes to align to a face. Now that you know the alignment and axes rule, it’s best to just define the axes correctly when creating the component in the first place.

Next, in Part 3 I’ll show an even better way to create a wall art component – creating it in its own SketchUp file, ready for properly aligned importing.


About Bonnie Roskes

Bonnie Roskes has been writing tutorial-style projects on 3D modeling software, primarily SketchUp, since 2001. Her website, offers a wide variety of learning materials for all ages, from kids in grade school through design professionals. Her materials cover general 3D design, 3D printing, geometry, interior design, geo-modeling, and more, and future books are in the works. Read more about Bonnie.



  1. Thanks again Bonnie, I’ve learned my ‘tip of the day’. I have a sense that’ll come in handy for lots of things in the future.


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