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How to make an Xmas Ornament in Sketchup

This was for a contest for the White House in 2014, so it looks a bit presedential with its white house, seal, and red-white-and-blue coloration! :)

This design uses basic geometric shapes, with a bit of modification, for the main structure.

The artwork that is added can be much more complex than the basic shape, depending on what you choose to use!

Step 1: Make Hexagon

The main building block for this design is a regular hexagon.

Start out by making a hexagon flat on the ground. Size isn't particularly important, as we will scale it later, but pick an even (integer) number for the radius to make the math easier as we go along.

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Step 2: More Hexagons

We must copy this hexagon 3 times:

One copy, rotated 90 degrees on the blue axis (vertical, or Z axis)

One copy rotate 45 degrees on the blue axis

One copy rotated 135 degrees on the blue axis

Always rotate along the flat side, so that we can connect them together later.

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Step 3: Build One Side

Connect the hexagons to each other in a tower configuration, flat side to flat side

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Step 4: Make the Other 5 Sides

Using the rotate tool, we will make 5 copies of this, symmetrical about a center point.

1. Do this by changing your perspective to bottom view (looking up at model) by pressing CMD-2

2. Draw lines on the bottom hexagon, from each vertex point to its opposite point

3. Select rotate tool (or press Q)

4. Hold tool over flat plane, away from model. It should turn blue and appear like a protractor.

5. Hold SHIFT key to lock-in that plane, for the tool (otherwise it might change on you)

6. Click on model, at exact center of hexagon (where the lines you drew converge)

7. Click at point along red or green axis, away from model

8. Now hold down ALT (so that it will COPY instead of MOVE), type 60 to rotate it 60 degrees, and type 5x to copy it 5 times around the ring.

Step 5: Add Top / Ceiling

One more hexagon to add on top.

1. switch to top view (CMD-1)
2. with the line tool, click on one of the hexagon points, and then click on the point opposite it. 2. repeat this for all 6 points. A hexagon will automatically be created as you do this.

Step 6: Trim Overlaps

Since its not possible to use regular hexagons for a 3D shape like this, there is some overlap in the planes after creating all the sides. We can simply delete these, and live with the fact that our top and bottom layers of hexagons are not "perfect" hexagons.

1. First we must make the new faces intersect with each other (right now they are 'floating' without really connecting). Select 'ALL' (CMD-A), then right-click and select "intersect faces"

2. Now, with the 'select' tool (the arrow), click on any of the overhanging geometry, one at a time, and then press DELETE. It is faster to select the lines, instead of the faces, as deleting a line will eliminate BOTH the line and the face. Rotate around the model until you eliminate all of the overhangs.

Step 7: Stretch Top and Bottom

Now, using the move tool, we will stretch the center point out a ways, to create a pyramid shape.

1. Select move tool

2. select center point on top

3. press the UP arrow to lock-in the blue axis

4. move up a ways from the object to stretch it out and make a pyramid. You can also type a value like 5" for 5 inches, or whatever you like.

5, Do the same to the bottom, but make the pyramid not quite as tall.

Step 8: Fill in Side Holes

To create sparkly faceted recessions in our ornament, we can fill in the sides in between the hexagons, then stretch it (towards the interior) much like we did the top and bottom.

1. draw a line across the horizontal parts by connecting the opposite points.

2. draw lines from the other 3 points to the center (midpoint) of the first line

3.Repeat for the lower section too

4. now repeat for all side holes remaining in the model

Step 9: Stretch (cave In) the Side Holes

Now we create the cave-like recessions which will add more 'sparkle' from the facets, (as the ornament rotates on the tree, or in your hand, etc)

This step can get a little complicated, so pay attention. Steps 1-8 are fairly easy, then it gets complicated.

1. Rotate the model so you are looking at it from the side, along the red axis (press CMD-5)

2. Now rotate it to change the perspective slightly, so you are looking at it from a little bit above.

3. Using the move tool, click on a center vertex of one of the side sections.

4. press the RIGHT arrow to lock movement to the red axis

5. move a little ways inward, and click to set the position

6. Now type the depth/distance that you desire, i.e. 1" or 5" or 10" or whatever

7. repeat for lower section

8. repeat for the sections on the EXACY OPPOSITE of the model, but not the others yet.

NOW. HERE'S WHERE IT GETS COMPLICATED: We don't have an axis to lock to in these directions. We can either create a reference line (construction line, etc.), or we can simply look inside the ball and create a temporary hexagon as a reference point to move each vertex to. I have chosen the latter method.

Here's how:

9. Change to top view (CMD-1)

10. Hold down CMD (or CTRL on Windows) while clicking on all the topmost surfaces and their lines, selecting all of them

11. Right-click and select HIDE

12. You can now see the interior of the ball. There is a large flat plane in front of you, blocking your view of the rest of the interior (this plane surface was an accidental artifact, created when we constructed the ball). Click on it to highlight, then delete it (DEL). Do the same to the next surface you see below it. Both of these surfaces do not really belong in our model.

13. Now draw a construction line using the tape-measure tool. It should connect the vertices of the two top caved-in side sections.

14. Now draw a hexagon, centered at the midpoint between the two vertices. NOTE: If Sketchup won't snap to the midpoint, it can be frustrating. You might need to draw a real line instead of a construction line.

15. Delete the newly created surface(s) outside the hexagon

16. Using the move tool, stretch each side section till it connects with a virtex of the hexagon.

17. Delete hexagon (and its border)

18. Repeat these steps for the bottom section (first switch to bottom view using CMD-2).

19. When done, it should look like the final picture here (a ball with no top or bottom). To make the top and bottom appear again, simply 'unhide' them by going to menu item EDIT-->UNHIDE-->ALL

There, that wasn't so bad, was it? :)

Step 10: Add Borders to Hexagons

Using the offset tool, create a border around each hexagon:

1. select offset tool

2. select hexagon border

3. move inside the hexagon a small ways, or type in a value like 1" to get an exact length (whatever you like)

4. repeat for each hexagon. HINT: simply double-clicking on the new area will automatically repeat the settings from the last action, so you don't have to enter the numbers each time.

Now, using the push/pull tool, raise that border slightly above the face of each hexagon, so that we get a 3D 'relief' effect.

1. select push/pull

2. select face of border of the hexagon

3. push out a ways with the mouse, or type in a value like 1" to get an exact length (whatever you like)

4. Repeat for each hexagon. Again, you can simply double-click to repeat action for each section.

Step 11: Add Color

Using the paint tool, we can paint the surfaces whatever color we like. I chose gold for the base color, then highlights in red, white, and blue (to be patriotic!)

1 First, select ALL.

2. Then use the paint bucket to color the entire model your chosen base color. This saves time compared to needing to click every single face individually.

3. Now, go back and click each face you want to paint a different color.

Step 12: Optional: Hollow It Out

If you are going to 3D print this ornament, you might want to save material (and thus money) by making the interior of the ornament hollow. There still needs to be a wall thickness, however, in order for it to print properly.

The easiest way to do this is to insert another 3D object inside of the ornament, so that it will be the hollow portion, and the space in between it and the ornament walls becomes the 'shell'.

We could use a shape as simple as a sphere, or cube, or whatever. I chose to make a hexagon-based diamond-type cylinder, which roughly fits the shape of the ornament, and is easier to manipulate/resize/place than a sphere might be.

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Step 13: Add Decorations

Here's where we add little 3D relief-type-sculptures to the face of the ornament. We could use models from the 3D warehouse, or create our own. They must be simplified, scaled down, and made to intersect with the surface of each hexagon properly, so that we have a true solid at the end of our work.

Here's how:

1. Draw or obtain your image

2. Insert it into your work area (either cut-n-paste from another open Sketchup file, or take from 3D warehouse it will automatically insert it as a 'paste' function)

3. Place it next to the ornament first

4. Using the scale tool, scale it to an appropriate size.

5. create multiple copies for as many faces as you want.

5. Using the rotate tool, rotate it along the axes necessary to have it line up with the hexagon you wish.

6. Using the move tool, click on the BACK face of the art image, and move it to the face you wish to adhere it to. (this might take some tricky maneuvering, but hang in there)

7. Repeat for all images

Step 14: Scale to Size

We must scale this model to fit whatever size we desire.

(in this case, for the contest this was entered into, the maximum size was 3 inches, so we'll use that in this example)

1. Using the 'tape measure' tool, click on the top most vertex point. then click on the bottom-most vertex point. A measurement will be given for the model's current scale.

2. Type in the desired measurement: 3"

3. Model will scale to this size (Sketchup will probably ask you to confirm, first, that you really want to do this).

Step 15: Check for Solidity

Use the 'Solid inspector' to double-check that we didn't violate the solids rules.

<p>Very nice ornament. I love all the details!</p>

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