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Getting started with TINs

In the next figure, you see an example of a TIN sculpted into hills and a watery valley. The Sandbox tools are traditionally used to create this type of terrain. In the following sections, you find out how to start modeling TINs, where to find the Sandbox tools, and what it means to geolocate terrain. After you cover the basics, you also find pointers to how to start sculpting a TIN. You can also transform contour lines that you draw yourself into a TIN, or draw a plain flat rectangular TIN like the one shown earlier in this article.

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You can also use the Sandbox tools to sculpt a polygon mesh, but only if you import it into SketchUp from another program. Importing Preexisting Terrain introduces this topic and points you to additional help with importing. In SketchUp Pro, the Sandbox tools are enabled by default. Also, when I go to my preferences pane, the Extensions category does not appear in the left margin. I need to understand if something is wrong or what I need to do so that I can access my extensions that do not appear as well as be able to access Sketucations extensions that I attempt to install.

I have already created an account with that site. Because new for SU is a dedicated and separate Extension Manager. To open it, there should be an item in the Window menu.

See the Release Notes page for updates that have happened since SU your profile indicates that is the version you are running. I am running an educational version of SU Pro.


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Furthermore, none of what is being demonstrated seems to be what I get at my end. Now I am experiencing that the tool palette that should appear along the left edge of my screen vertically is gone and I cannot get it to reappear. It seems as if the simplest things that should be very straight forward and reliable do not work in this application.

Tech support is thin and I am not a fan of using an application that I cannot depend on. No, This is the kind of stuff that appears instead and I cannot seem to get what should be appearing to show up. This morning I am now noticing that the left vertical toolbar that is supposed to appear on my screen is gone and I cannot get it to show up.

You can also select specific areas of the mesh to manipulate all at once. In the example below, I chose a series of cells that I would like to build into a berm. Using a radius of 20', I pulled the entire segment of the mesh up into a smooth berm. In the below example, I turned off the Hidden Geometry so I could select entire squares, then selected a few scattered cells and elevated them all together to the same elevation using the Smoove Tool.


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This is a great wait to create similar topographical elements throughout your site. Using a surface mesh to create a terrain model from scratch can be very useful during the conceptual design stages. However, if you already have a set of contours from which you can create a TIN, the mesh can also be used as a way to modify the TIN. The mesh can be applied over the entire TIN if your site is small, or over small areas of a larger TIN to provide areas of finer control within your model.

In this example, the TIN reveals that the small stream valley is not very deep and does not contain many areas for water to pool. I'd like to play around with creating some pooling areas within the stream corridor so that large storm events are more clearly refelcted in the changes to the landscape Rather than mess with specific contours, it might be easier to push and pull the TIN to create pools in the stream corridor. After creating those pools, I can then use the modified TIN to extract modified contour lines.

Rotate your model into plan view and draw a mesh surface over or around your TIN. Elevate the mesh above the TIN,. You will be asked to select the object you wish to drape in our case this is the mesh and then the surface on which to drape the object in our case theTIN. After a few minutes, your mesh grid should appear on your TIN. If it takes along time or crashes the program, try using a smaller grid size for the mesh.

Now that you have draped the mesh on your TIN, you can use all of the Smoove and Divide Surface tools to manipulate the TIN much more smoothly than the orginal triangulated surface. In the below example I used the Smoove tool to deepen the stream channel in a few places to create areas where water will pool.

These areas are more clearly revealed when the shadows are turned on. Now that you have modified the original TIN, your original contours probably don't accurately reflect your new topography.

By creating a stack of planes and intersecting them with the modified TIN, you can extract a new set of 3D contours from your model. Rotate into plan view and draw a rectangle around your TIN. To repeat the process and create a series, or array, of planes, immediately type 10x or 5x, or 20x. This stack of planes can now be used to generate a set of contour lines.

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Select all of the planes by dragging over the corner from right to left, right click on the planes and choose Intersect with Model. This might take a while but it won't look like wanythig has happened.

Enabling the Sandbox tools

Select all of the planes and delete them all. You should see a nice new set of contour lines running through your model. Notice how my new pools are reflected in the new set of contours on the bottom of the image:. Draping Objects on Terrain Models We have already experimented with with Drape tool by draping a mesh onthe TIN, but the drape tool can be used to drape other 2D objects, such as site plans, roads, pathways or water bodies onto a 3D terrain model.

Select the objects you want to drape be sure to explode them first! Again, wait and do not interrupt the process. If you bring in roads, buildings, water bodies, etc from ArcGIS they will likely come in as a group. You must explode the group and then select the objects before draping or the process will not work. In this example, I drew a path on a plane below the model, grouped the path and its boundary lines, elevated the path above the TIN, and then used the Drape tool to drape the path onto the surface.

Therefore, you must build any structures somewhere else in the model space and then move them down to the terrain. Once you have created a structure, use the move tool to move it down onto the terrain.

Using the up, left or right arrows to constrain the movement to specific axes will help. You can also use the drape tool to drape a footprint on the TIN to help you properly place a structure. You can later delete that section of terrain if needed. For example, if you create a structure that drops below the terrain surface you will want to delete the section of the terrain model that covers that area.

In some cases you might want to create a flat surface underneath a structure. For example, if you are placing a bench or a building on sloping terrain, you might want to create a small plinth on which to place those objects. By changing the offset value before stamping, you can define the area of the TIN impacted by the stamped surface. In the below example, I have created a small rectangle to represent the base on which to place a bench, and used the stamp tool to stamp an impression of the rectangle into the TIN and create a flat plinth for the bench.

Placing components on the terrain manually has a couple of drawbacks. Even with extreme care, it is possible to end up with floating components and it is difficult to place them precisely according to the site plan.


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