How Do I Use Photomatch in SketchUp?

Photomatch is a powerful feature in SketchUp that allows you to match your 3D model with a photograph, making it easier to create accurate and realistic designs. Whether you’re working on architectural projects or visualizing your interior design ideas, Photomatch can be a game-changer. In this tutorial, we’ll explore how to use Photomatch in SketchUp to enhance your workflow and achieve stunning results.

Step 1: Importing the Photograph

To get started, open SketchUp and go to “File” > “Import” > “Import Image”. Select the photograph you want to use as a reference for your model and click “Open”. The imported image will appear in your SketchUp workspace.

Step 2: Setting up the Axes

Before we proceed with Photomatch, it’s essential to set up accurate axes in your model. This will help align your 3D geometry correctly with the photograph.

To do this, navigate to “Window” > “Model Info” > “Axes”. In the Axes dialog box, specify the origin point by clicking on any corner or edge of an existing face in your model.

Step 3: Activating Photomatch

Now that we have our photograph imported and axes set up let’s activate the Photomatch feature. Go to “Camera” > “Photomatch” or simply press Ctrl+Shift+P (or Command+Shift+P on Mac) on your keyboard. The Photomatch dialog box will appear on your screen.

Step 4: Positioning the Axis Points

In the Photomatch dialog box, you’ll notice three sets of axis points labeled A, B, and C. These points help establish perspective and scale in your model. Click on the first axis point (A) and then click on the corresponding point in the photograph. Repeat this process for axis points B and C. It’s best to choose points that are easy to identify and align with your model’s geometry.

Step 5: Adjusting the Model

After positioning the axis points, you’ll notice that your 3D model is still not aligned with the photograph. To make adjustments, use the Move tool (shortcut: M) to move, rotate, or scale your model until it matches the perspective of the photo. You can also use guidelines (shortcut: G) to help align specific elements or edges with features in the photograph.


  • Use multiple axis points: If your model has complex geometry, consider adding extra axis points for better alignment.
  • Consider vanishing lines: Pay attention to vanishing lines in your photograph to ensure accurate perspective.
  • Toggle X-Ray mode: To see both your model and photograph simultaneously, go to “View” > “Face Style” > “X-Ray”. This can be helpful while making adjustments.

Step 6: Applying Textures

Once you have aligned your model with the photograph using Photomatch, you can apply textures or materials to add realism. With the Paint Bucket tool (shortcut: B), select a material from SketchUp’s library or create custom materials by importing textures from external sources.

Step 7: Fine-tuning and Refining

After applying textures, take some time to fine-tune and refine your model further. Pay attention to details, adjust lighting conditions, and add additional elements to enhance the overall composition. SketchUp offers various tools and plugins that can help you achieve the desired level of detail and realism.

Step 8: Rendering and Presenting

Once you are satisfied with your model, it’s time to render and present your work. SketchUp provides built-in rendering options like “Styles” and “Shadows” that can enhance the visual quality of your model. You can also export your model to other rendering software for more advanced rendering capabilities.

Congratulations! You have successfully learned how to use Photomatch in SketchUp.

By incorporating photographs into your workflow, you can create more accurate and visually appealing 3D models. Experiment with different photographs, textures, and lighting conditions to explore endless possibilities in architectural visualization and design.