Creating a Topography Mesh from Flat Contours in SketchUp Tutorial

Many times a designer needs to create a topographic mesh from flat contours. Creating a landscape from flat contours can be easy but requires more hands-on work to get the contours to the proper height.  In my previous posts, Importing AutoCAD Civil Topography DWGs into SketchUp Pro Tutorial and Using Imported Civil DWG Parking Layouts to Drape onto a Sandbox Topography Mesh in SketchUp Pro Tutorial, I touch on this process using imported contours that already have elevation data attached to them. In this tutorial we will use flat contours to produce three dimensional topography.

1. Either Import or draw the flat contours into SketchUp. For this tutorial, the contours were imported from AutoCAD. See my previous post Importing AutoCAD Civil Topography DWGs into SketchUp Pro Tutorial for AutoCAD import tips.

Flat contours in SketchUp

2. Use the Rectangle tool to box in the desired contours

Rectangle Tool

Flat Contours “boxed” in


– In more recent version of SketchUp, once you draw the box within the contours, they will automatically create separate planes and acknowledge the intersecting points. If you are still working on an earlier version, you may need trace to connect the intersecting points

3. Use the Extrude tool to set the elevations of each plane

Extrude tool

Contour extruded to 1’-0″

Fully extruded topography map


– If your topography/contour map is highly detailed, you may need to remove the bottom pieces of extruded information and only leave the planes at the proper elevation heights.

4. To complete your topographic mesh, select all the extruded contours (if it’s a component right click and click on edit group/component)

Extruded Contours selected

5. Select Draw from the top of the window, go to Sandbox and select From Contours

Topography from Flat Contours

Completed Topographic Mesh


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