March 29th, 2008, 07:42 AM
Converting Sketchup Models to 3DS
If you have tried to create models for your 3D games, you probably know that many modeling programs out there (like autodesk) are quite expensive, and have so many features that using them feels like drinking out of a fire hose. One of the simplest modeling programs to use (in my opinion) is Google Sketchup (http://sketchup.google.com/). It doesn't have a lot of the features of some of the other modeling programs available, but it is more than sufficient for most models you will want to create. There is even a "3D Warehouse" full of Sketchup models available for download(http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse).
Only problem is, the free version does not export your model into a common format (like 3ds). So I figured out a way to do the conversion.
The first important piece of information I found, is that KMZ file format is actually just a ZIP file. If you export your sketchup model to "Google Earth 4 (*.kmz)", you can change the name of your file from filename.kmz to filename.zip and look inside. You will find a model file in there, of the Collada "Digital Asset Exchange" format. It has the extension ".dae".
Once you have your .dae file, you will, of course need a converter to change it to a .3ds file. I found a converter that will do this for you. It is called the FBX converter tool, on the autodesk website.
You can download the windows version of the FBX converter from:
The program will install to the following location (unless you specify otherwise):
I also saw a mac and and a linux version of the converter (I forgot to grab the links while I was there - you'll have to search the autodesk site if you aren't running windows).
Now the FBX converter will convert your .dae file into a .fbx file. From there, the FBX converter will let you convert the .fbx file into a .3ds file.
This converter also supports a few other formats, so it could be pretty handy to have around.
Here is the process for converting from .skp to .3ds:
1) Download or create a .skp model in Sketchup
2) In Sketchup, export your model to "Google Earth 4 (*.kmz)
(note: be sure to choose version 4, because the other one is different)
3) Change the extention of the kmz file to .zip
4) Pull out the .dae file
5) In FBX Converter, convert the .dae file to .fbx
6) In FBX Converter, convert the .fbx file to .3ds
The only other issue I had (probably specific to the model I was using), is a couple of the materials were not compatible with jPCT (transparency issue). I used a free program called LithUnwrap (http://www.sharecg.com/v/5169/softwa...er-for-Windows) to edit the materials in the .3ds model I was using. Lithunwrap works great for this, but it does have a maximum number or polys it will load, so there are probably better programs out there for editing materials. You may not have to worry about that though, if you don't use transparency in your models. I made an applet that loads the skp model I converted:
(Use the mouse to rotate the object)
You can get the source code at:
(In this demo applet, the 3ds file needs to be compiled into the jar)
And to show that I actually converted that model, here is the original Sketchup file:
Comments on this post
After trying to track down a problem someone was having with this conversion method (on a different forum), I discovered that the FBX converter is not compatible with all .dae files. The solution would be to find a different converter program that converts .dae files to another format, but after some searching, I haven't been able to find a free one. So the above method for converting sketchup files does not always work.
I'll post an update if I find a better way.
Indeed, at first, I was able to convert some DAE's from Google Sketchup to 3D Studio properly using the procedure well described by you, but I'm not longer getting that . My last KMZ files contain DAE's whose the conversion to FBX are being impossible.
I'm just wondering if it was a intentional modifying in last version of Google SketchUp by Google team to avoid a conversion without Sketchup Pro.
October 23rd, 2008, 11:22 PM
I have found that the Collada importer for Blender is more compatible than the FBX converter for loading .dae files. Blender is free, and there is a pretty good 3ds exporter script for it as well. This makes Blender a good tool to use for converting Google Sketchup (free version) models to .3ds.
How to use this method:
1) Download Blender from http://www.blender.org/ and install it. Pay attention to what version of Python it recommends that you download.
2) Download the correct version of Python from http://www.python.org/ and install it.
3) Download the COLLADA plug-in for Blender from http://sourceforge.net/projects/colladablender/. Follow the included instructions for installing it.
4) Download export_3ds2kex.txt from http://www.knifeedge.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17674 (requires a free registration). Rename it to export_3ds2kex.py and copy it to the Blender scripts directory.
Now just follow my previous instructions for obtaining the .dae file, and import it into Blender. From there, export to .3ds.
October 31st, 2008, 03:09 PM
When I downloaded the Collada plugin there was no installation instructions. How should I install? Please respond. I have been trying to do this for months and I'm at the breaking point .
October 31st, 2008, 04:45 PM
I looked into this, and figured out that the latest version of Blender no longer has the ".blender/scripts" directory. Here is what you need to do to get it to work:
1) Extract colladaImport14.py from the .zip file you download from the link I mentioned.
2) Stick colladaImport14.py into the Blender directory. On my computer it was located at:
C:\Program Files\Blender Foundation\Blender\
2) Edit colladaImport14.py with notepad or other text editor, and go to the line that says:
scriptsDir = ""
Change it to:
scriptsDir = "C:/Program Files/Blender Foundation/Blender/"
(Or whatever directory you placed the script file in. Notice that I used forward-slashes "/" NOT back-slashes "\")
4) Do the same thing for colladaExport14.py if you want to be able to export .dae files as well.
For the 3dskex pluggin:
1) Rename the file you downloaded from the link I mentioned to export_3ds2kex.py
2) Stick it into the Blender directory (same place as the coladda scripts as above). No need to edit this script with notepad.
Now, if your pluggins aren't showing up in the File->Import and File->Export menus, you may need to tell Blender where the scripts are located at. Here are some instructions for how to do that:
1) On the Blender main screen, you will notice little icons on the left for each pannel. For one of them, choose "User Preferences" (Looks like a bold lower-case "i"). If the pannel is too small, drag the edge so it is larger and you can see all the buttons and stuff. You should be able to see a row of buttons: "View & Controls", "Edit Methods", ... "File Paths".
2) Click the "File Paths" button.
3) Click the folder icon next to "Scripts: //".
4) Browse to C:/Program Files/Blender Foundation/Blender/ (or wherever you put your script). Click "Select Script Path".
5) Click the "Re-evaluate ..." icon next to the folder icon you clicked earlier.
6) Go to File->Save Default Settings
If you do this and the scripts are still not working, check to make sure you installed the same version of Python that Blender is using (it says on the little black start-up window).
I personally don't use Blender, because it runs stupid-slow on my computer, so if you have Blender-specific questions, I recommend using the Blender Artist forums, located at http://blenderartists.org/forum/
November 1st, 2008, 08:45 AM
Ah thank you. It works now . Now to see if I can get it to load in Zmodeler .
November 4th, 2008, 08:02 PM
Can I just ask why not use Blender for the entire process, seeing as it's free like Sketchup, but as far as I'm aware (and this could be displaying some ignorance) Blender is "better" overall then Sketchup with more features, etc?
November 4th, 2008, 10:07 PM
Because I'm a dumbace and I can only model in Sketchup . Besides, I'm kind-of fed up with Blender. I got everything installed but when I export it doesn't re-import into my other modelers. However, it re-imports just fine back into Blender .
Originally Posted by gonefishing
November 5th, 2008, 07:29 AM
Sketchup is far easier to use than Blender.
February 1st, 2009, 03:51 PM
Thanks for this info.
When I try to run the collada import script in blender I get an error dialogue that says "please install a full version of python, see console for more"
I have run the windows python installer. How do I tell which is the right version of python, and how do I tell blender where it is so it can run it?
February 1st, 2009, 08:45 PM
I remember that it says what version to use when installing Blender, but I am not exactly certain how to determine what version you need if Blender is already installed. A more round-about way might be to uninstall Python and Blender, then re-install Blender and pay close attention to what version of Python it recommends. I am sure there is an easier way to do it than that - I am just not very familiar with Blender (I use 3DS Max myself). You might try asking for help on the Blender forums if that doesn't work.
February 3rd, 2009, 07:37 PM
Dude, I am cussing and pulling my hair out trying to convert a simple file and cannot get past the google earth step.
Originally Posted by paulscode
Could you please e-mail me with detailed instructions because I am following these instructions t a "T" and am having no success at all.
All this stuff is WAY over my head, as I am nowhere near a programmer or anything. The only thing I know is I have 5 different program software formats downloaded to my harddrive and have no idea how to use any of them
I recently purchased a HGTV Home Design & Remodeling software program and am trying to make changes to my home. I just want to add things to my home in this program and the instruction booklet says that there are millions of 3ds files for free to download but I haven't found one yet (and have searched for 8 hours straight)
then I downloaded the Google Sketchup FREE program and wanted to EXPORT my files to use in my HGTV program, and I read this tutorial, and now I am completely lost.
Please help before I send a hate letter to the publisher to this HGTV software program...lol
February 4th, 2009, 04:41 PM
Ok, I will try to break the process down further.
Originally Posted by Shelbeth
Start with a .skp model for Google Sketchup. Let's pretend we have one called car.skp.
First, open car.skp with Google Sketchup. When it is finished loading, click on the "File" menu, which is at the top-left of the Sketchup window. Navigate through the menu, and click on:
File -> Export -> 3D Model...
A window will open called "Export Model". There are a couple of drop-down menus. For "Export type:" choose "Google Earth 4 (*.kmz)". For "File name", give your model a name, such as "car.kmz".
Click the "Export" button. When it is finished, exit Google Sketchup.
If you are using Windows XP, your model should now be located in the "My Documents" folder. To get there, click on the "start" menu on the bottom-left of your screen, and click on "My Documents"
The "My Documents" window will open up. You might have to scroll around to find your model that you saved. When you find the file, RIGHT-CLICK on it and choose "Rename". Change the "kmz" extension into "zip". So for example, car.kmz would become car.zip.
Now that the file has a new name, double-click on it to open it. (If this step doesn't work, let me know - it could mean your computer doesn't know how to open up .zip files, or that extensions are hidden. Either problem is simple to fix, but I won't confuse you with that unless you need it.)
Inside the .zip file, you will find a directory called "models". Inside there will be a file with the extension "dae" (for example, it might be called car.dae. Drag that "dae" file out of the zip file onto your desktop.
That's it. That "dae" file is the one you want to convert into a "3ds" file. I would try the FBX converter as I mentioned in my first post, and if that doesn't work, try the more complicated Blender solution.
So for the FBX converter method, do this:
If you haven't already, download and install the FBX converter (all you have to do is double-click the file to install it).
Now, in order to run the FBX converter, you have to find it first (there is no nice little icon created during the install process). I suggest you create a shortcut icon on your desktop like this:
RIGHT-CLICK on the desktop and navigate to:
New -> Shortcut
Click the "Browse..." button. You can navigate through the "Browse For Folder" by clicking on the little plus signs next to the icons. Do this to navigate to:
My Computer -> C: -> Program Files -> Autodesk -> FBX -> FBXConverter -> 2006.11.2 -> FbxConverterUI.exe
Click on "FbxConverterUI.exe" to highlight it, then click the "OK" button.
Click the "Next >" button.
Click the "Finish" button.
Now there will be an icon on your desktop to the FBX Converter. Double-click on it to run the program.
Inside, you will see three tabs along the top "Convert to FBX", "Convert from FBX", and "Convert FBX to FBX". You want the first tab - "Convert to FBX".
Next, click on the "Add..." button. Browse to your .dae file that you pulled out earlier. It is on the desktop, so select "Desktop" from the dropdown menu. Then click on your "dae" file and then click the "Open" button.
Now, click the "Convert" button at the bottom-right of the FBX Converter window. If there were no problems, there will now be a file on your desktop with the extension "fbx" (for example: car.fbx
Now choose the "Convert from FBX" tab by clicking on it (remember it is the second tab in the FBX Converter window). Make sure the "Destination file format" has "3DS" selected (this is in the center of the FBX Converter window).
Again click the "Add..." button, and choose "Desktop" from the dropdown menu. This time click on the new fbx file that was just created (for example: car.fbx), and then click "Open".
Again, click on the "Convert" button, and if there were not any problems, there will now be a "3ds" file on your desktop (for example: car.3ds).
That's it. Use your 3ds file any way you like.
If the FBX Converter has problems, you can then try the Blender conversion method, but if you had problems figuring things out up to this point, that method will really have you scratching your head.
February 4th, 2009, 06:58 PM
Thanx, Alright, now I got it. Awesome. Thanx man!
Originally Posted by paulscode