How Does Sandbox Work in SketchUp?

In SketchUp, the Sandbox toolset is a powerful feature that allows users to create and manipulate terrain and other organic shapes in their designs. Understanding how the Sandbox tools work is essential for those looking to add realistic landscapes or complex geometries to their SketchUp models.

Getting Started with Sandbox

Before diving into the details of how the Sandbox toolset works, it’s important to know where to find these tools in SketchUp. To access the Sandbox tools, navigate to the “Tools” menu at the top of your SketchUp screen, then select “Sandbox” from the dropdown menu.

Once in the Sandbox menu, you will find several tools that can help you create and modify terrains. These tools include:

  • From Scratch: This tool allows you to start creating a terrain from scratch by connecting multiple points in space. It’s perfect for creating custom landscapes or modifying existing ones.
  • From Contours: With this tool, you can import contour lines from external sources or draw them manually. SketchUp will then generate a terrain based on these contours.
  • Smoove: The Smoove tool lets you push and pull areas of your terrain, allowing for easy sculpting and manipulation of its shape.
  • Add Detail: This tool enables you to add finer details such as roads, paths, or other features on top of an existing terrain.

The Workflow of Sandbox Tools

The workflow for using the Sandbox tools typically involves starting with either creating a new terrain from scratch or importing contour lines. Once you have generated your initial terrain shape, you can then proceed to refine it using additional tools like Smoove and Add Detail.

The “From Scratch” tool allows you to create terrain by simply clicking on different points in space. SketchUp will automatically generate a surface that connects these points, forming a basic terrain shape. You can then edit and refine this shape further using the Smoove tool or the Add Detail tool.

If you have contour lines from an external source or have drawn them manually, you can use the “From Contours” tool. This feature allows you to import or draw contour lines, which SketchUp will then use to generate a terrain based on the elevation data provided by these lines.

Refining Your Terrain

Once you have created your initial terrain using the Sandbox tools, you can refine it further to achieve the desired result. The Smoove tool is particularly useful for sculpting and manipulating the shape of your terrain. To use this tool, simply click and drag on areas of your terrain to push or pull them, creating valleys, hills, or other landscape features.

If you need to add finer details such as roads or paths on top of your terrain, you can utilize the Add Detail tool. This tool allows you to draw lines or shapes directly onto your terrain surface. These details will then conform to the contours of your terrain, making them seamlessly integrated into the landscape.


The Sandbox toolset in SketchUp provides users with a range of powerful tools for creating and manipulating terrains and organic shapes in their designs. Whether starting from scratch or importing contour lines, these tools allow for easy generation and refinement of realistic landscapes. By utilizing features like Smoove and Add Detail, users can sculpt their terrains and add intricate details that bring their designs to life.

Incorporating Sandbox tools into your SketchUp workflow opens up endless possibilities for creating visually stunning and realistic environments. So, start experimenting with the Sandbox tools today and take your SketchUp designs to the next level!