Sketchup Photo Match

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up some foam core with an eye to starting to mock up the buildings for Pembroke. Unfortunately, there are no drawings to start from for any of the buildings. So, I thought I’d try out Photo Match on Sketchup to see if it could help.

I was surprised how close I was able to get with century-old photos. Now, the tutorials say right in them, that you should take clear photos that have nothing in the foreground. Right, I’ll just nip out to Pembroke in 1905 with my digital camera and shoot some better pictures! No such luck! I had to work with what I have.


It took a few tries before I was getting somewhere useful, and I must say, the program probably works best for buildings that are actually boxes (the tutorial buildings have no eaves to speak of). Here are some things that I found helped:

  • Start with a photo from a normal angle. I started with the photo of the station
  • Use the eaves as a basis, not one of the walls. The location of the top of the wall is unknown under the eaves.
  • Measure in from the eaves, and create a box that is equidistant from all the eaves (an assumption), then extrude it down to make the walls.
  • Use something that is a well-known dimension to scale the model before adding more views. I didn’t do this, and it led to weirdness later.
  • Before going to any detail, add other views, and balance them. It was impossible to get them right!
  • Remember the world is not flat: there are grades everywhere, and that screws you up if you try to add a second building on the same photograph.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.