1.11 - Import Models with Content Library

In this chapter, we will import existing SketchUp models, as well as use the FormIt Content Library to place OOTB families that have been converted from Revit. Note that when opening SKP files with FormIt, they come with intact Materials, Groups and Components, Layers (Tags), and Scenes. Some clean-up may be needed to keep your projects tidy and organized.

For this chapter we will be using files from the Farnsworth House Data Set > Supporting Files folder. If you have not already, be sure to download the required folders, or entire data set, from the FormIt Primer Part 1 Datasets.

Import and Edit SKP files

First, we will go through the process of adding a piece of downloaded content to your own personal content library. Note that in this exercise we will be only using SKP files. To learn more about how to open/import other file formats, refer to this blog post about Formit 2021.2 features and to this chapter about Expanded Import and Export File Formats.

1 - Make sure to Save (Ctrl + S) any open work, then start a new FormIt sketch. To do this, you can either:

  1. Open another session on FormIt in a new window by right-clicking on the FormIt Icon in the Windows Taskbar and clicking on the FormIt icon. This will open a new FormIt window, allowing you to run two FormIt sessions side-by-side.

  2. OR, after saving, start a New Sketch (Ctrl + N) from the File dropdown in the Main Menu bar.

2 - Create a new folder called Custom FormIt Content inside the Farnsworth House Data Set > Supporting Files > FormIt folder in the Farnsworth House Data Set.

3 - Save (Ctrl + S) your new sketch in that folder. We recommend naming it: Ottoman – Barcelona_Mies.axm

4 - In the new empty FormIt file:

  1. Import a Local File (Ctrl + I) by selecting Import > Locally… from the File dropdown in the Main Menu bar.

  2. Choose: Ottoman – Barcelona_Mies.skp from the Farnsworth House Data Set > Supporting Files > SketchUp and click Open.

Note: If you do not see the Ottoman – Barcelona_Mise.skp file, make sure the file format dropdown in the bottom right is set to All Supported Formats.

5 - Rename the imported group Ottoman - Barcelona_Mies.

6 - When we eventually import this model into our Farnsworth House file, it will be placed by using this file’s Origin point. To control l placement point, we want to move the Ottoman - Barcelona_Mies group so one if its corners is located at the Origin. To do this:

  1. Ensure Snap to Grid (SG) is on. Draw a reference Line (L) starting at the Origin (There the X, Y, and Z axes intersect). Click anywhere to place the second point.

  2. Select the ottoman group and start the move command by single-clicking on the lower left corner of its leg, as shown. To learn more about how to move objects, refer to previous chapters.

  3. Move the group to the Origin, by snapping to the start point of the reference line we just drew.

  4. Delete the reference line.

7 - We recommend deleting any unwanted layers that were imported with the SKP file, as any layers this model has will eventually be imported into our Farnsworth House model. To do that, go to the Layers Palette, select Layer 0, and click the - button. This will delete the layer while keeping its geometry.

Note: Whenever you delete a layer, any geometry or groups that were on that layer are assigned to have No Layer, which is the default value for any object that has not yet been assigned to a layer.

Create Content Thumbnail

This next step will setup a scene to be used as the Content thumbnail, which will be displayed in the Content Library Palette.

1 - To define the view settings for the thumbnail scene:

  1. In the Environment tab of the Visual Style Palette, uncheck all the checkboxes and set the Lower/ Background color to white.

  2. Make sure your view mode is set to Perspective (VP).

  3. Use the View Navigation Tools to zoom in pick a camera location that represents the object well, similar to the below image.

2 - To save the settings you just set, create a scene:

  1. Go to the Scene Palette.

  2. Click on the + button. This will create a new scene based on your current settings.

  3. Rename it Thumbnail and make sure that at least the first four (4) checkboxes are checked; Camera, Layers, Sun and Shadows, and Visual Styles. The rest of the scene settings are not really relevant for creating the thumbnail image.

  4. Use the Update Scene button any time you want to refresh your Scene to match the current camera view and visual settings.

3 - Save (Ctrl + S) the completed ottoman model again. Note that the Content Thumbnail is created from the current view when the model was last saved, so make sure you are in the Thumbnail Scene before you save.

If you wish, you can compare your file against ours by opening the Ottoman - Barcelona_Mies.axm file saved at Farnsworth House Data Set > Supporting Files > FormIt > Furniture in the Farnsworth House Data Set.‌

You can follow the same steps above with the bench and chair SKP files located in the same folder as the ottoman.

Tip: To expedite the process we recommend using the Ottoman - Barcelona_Mies.axm file you just created as a template. While modeling you may want to turn on the Grid and the Axes again from the Visual Styles Palette. By adjusting only the camera position of your Thumbnail Scene for each piece of furniture, it will ensure that the Content Thumbnails remain consistent for all of your content models.

Now back to our Farnsworth House project. We will learn how to link the FormIt folder in the Farnsworth House Data Set, to easily access all of its files - including the Custom FormIt Content we just created - from within our project.

1 - After switching back to, or re-opening, the Farnsworth House model. If you did not complete the last chapter, download and open the 1.11 - Import Models with Content Library.axm file from the Farnsworth House Data Set.

  1. Open the Content Library Palette and click the Link Content Library Directory icon. The Preferences window will pop-up with the Content Library tab open.

  2. Click the + icon to Add a new Content Library location. A third window will pop-up for you to navigate your computer’s directory and select a folder.

  3. In the Farnsworth House Data Set, navigate through the folders: Supporting Files > FormIt. There you will find the folders containing the .axm files we created earlier in this chapter. Double-click the FormIt folder to select it.

  4. Click Select Folder and that folder’s path will show up in the Library Locations – Local Panel.

  5. Back in the Preferences window, click OK, and the linked folder will be added to the Content Library.

  6. To access this new library, open the drop-down menu at the top for the Content Library Palette and select FormIt.

  7. Note that the folder structure and all the .axm files in the linked folder will show up in the Content Library Palette. Double click any sub-folders to access the files in it.

Note: If you have access to Autodesk Docs (previously know as Autodesk 360), you can also access files you may have stored there through the Content Library drop-down menu.

Place Content from the Library

‌Now we will place the content items we created inside in the Farnsworth model.

1 - So that we can see inside the house to place the furniture, turn off the Roof layer and Orbit (O) the perspective view until you can see the entire Main Building Floor.

2 - Back in the Content Library Palette, ensure the dropdown is still set to the FormIt. Before placing any of the furniture we just made, we need to place the ‘core’ of the house:

  1. Click on the folder named Other to open it, and then click on the Farnsworth House – Core thumbnail to select it.

  2. Hover the mouse over the Main Building Floor, to click on the Centroid of the floor to place the Core.

  3. To go back UP to the FormIt folder, use the Navigate Up button.

3 - Set the camera to an Orthographic (VO) Top View (VT) and turn of the Main Building Floor to see the Plan Image. Refer to previous chapters to learn more about the Views and Layers settings.

4 - Select the Farnsworth House - Core and move it until it closely aligns with the Plan Image.

Note: While moving the Core, be careful not to change its elevation. You can either use the Shift key to restrict the movement to always be along one of the axes, or ensure that the start and end reference points of your Move (M) command are both at the same height by clicking only on the Plan Image, not the Core itself. Refer to previous chapters to learn more about the Move (M) Tool.‌

Place Furniture from the Library

1 - Using a similar process, you can now place the furniture you created earlier in this chapter from the Custom FormIt Content folder. If you did not convert all three (3) of the SKP files, you can use the premade versions inside the Furniture folder instead.


  • Turn the Main Building Floor layer back on, so you can place furniture directly on the Main Building Floor’s surface.

  • While placing a new object, use the Tab key to alternate between placement planes.

  • While placing a new object, use the Space Bar key to rotate it by 90 intervals before placing.

2 - Similarly, explore the Content Library Samples to place OOTB Content. Note that multiple of these have several different sizes to choose from, similar to Family Types in Revit.

Using the Scale Tool

1 - Using the techniques, you just learned, place one instance of the tree_pine component from the Farnsworth House Data Set > FormIt > Planting folder.

  1. Once placed, select the group and rename it to Tree. Right-click to access the Context Menu and choose Non-Uniform Scale (NU).

  2. Click on one of the Non-Uniform Scale Buttons to resize and change the proportions of the Tree group as desired.

Note: Similarly, the Scale (SC) tool can be used to re-scale an entire model or group uniformly.

2 - Copy this group and place multiple trees around the house, using the Scale Tools to create a variety of sizes and proportions.

Note: Even though the trees are all instances of the same group, we were able to Scale them to different sizes. Using the Scale (SC) and Non-Uniform Scale (NU) outside of group edit mode allows you to modify individual instances of the same group. If we were to edit one of the Tree groups and modify its geometry or material, all group instances would still be updated, but also each would keep their current customized scale. Give it a try!

Keep Model Tidy

Remember to always sort added content onto layers. In this example, we recommend placing the core and all furniture on the Main Building Floor layer and the trees on a new layer named Planting.

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