Graphic Display Skinning

Final rendered image

In computing, a "skin" is a custom graphical appearance that can be applied to a program or interface. Products—cellphone cases and laptops, for example—can have skins that allow the user to change their appearance at will. The ability to quickly replace, update and visualize graphics is also a useful design tool for people who work on trade show booths, exhibit signage and retail displays. So I have been developing a workflow for efficiently visualizing graphic display skins in SketchUp. This is done by creating a custom texture map of the skin and applying it to a digital model of the display objects.

As you may know, a "texture" in SketchUp is an image file that can be projected onto a modeled surface. Generally a texture contains a single image. A skin (all the graphic components of a display), however, might contain a dozen or more textures. This means that when a new skin is being developed, many textures might need to be updated individually in order to visualize the display in 3d. However, by creating a master template, a.k.a. a texture map, new skins can be created in a single texture file that is precisely applied to each display surface in the model, and the results can be visualized very quickly. This makes the SketchUp model a more responsive design tool.

In order to show how this process works I created a hypothetical Fat Pencil Studio trade show booth. I first created a model on which I would project our artwork. Then I gathered the measurements of each surface that would display artwork. I used the measurements to create a texture map at a manageable resolution that would serve as a canvas for adding my artwork. This single texture is then projected on all the display surfaces in the 3d model (each surface is set up to show only a piece of the texture map). Later I could edit the template texture and work directly from there to add new artwork and/or make modifications. Check out how the process works.

Sebastian Marticorena was an illustrator at Fat Pencil Studio from 2014-2016.