If you have Sketchup Pro, you have Layout. It’s the companion software package for Sketchup that helps you prepare your model in 2D perspective views for printing out on paper. One of the most common tasks you’ll have to do for Layout is prepare your model for importing. It’s easy, and it’s best to spend a little more time in Sketchup to configure your scenes before you even open Layout.
Prepare Scenes in Sketchup FIRST, then import into Layout
Layout does have some built in camera tools, allowing you to “open” your imported Sketchup model right from Layout and orbit the model. But you just don’t have as much control as you do from Sketchup. So as you’re planning out your Layout document, think about what types of views you’ll want to get, then open your model in Sketchup to find those views and save them as scenes.
When you are using Sketchup for architecture or construction, you’ll find there are many views you need to capture from each model. Make sure you label each scene as you create it so you can reference the name when selecting it in Layout. These are some typical views I like to configure, then save as scenes in Sketchup.
- Modeling View – This is just a scene to save my default modeling settings. As you start configuring your other scenes, you’ll want to go back to modeling and this scene will get you back there fast.
- Top View – Bird’s eye view from directly over head. You can just select the preset top view button in Sketchup. Don’t worry if the view is not rotated correctly. You can easily rotate it in Layout.
- Perspective View – I like to put a nice 3D “Sketchy” perspective view right on the front page of the drawings. I usually crank the field of view up to 60 to get a nice perspective view.
(Camera --> Field of View --> 60)
- Elevation views – Most of the pages will be elevation views. (Elevation views are the perspectives as if you are standing directly in front of something, looking straight at it.) You’ll typically have multiple elevations in a drawing set.
Align perspectives with the Position Camera Tool, NOT section planes.
I’ll just come right out and say it, I don’t like using section planes! I find that as soon as you get more than a couple, they are a pain to keep organized. You have to worry about hiding ones that you aren’t currently using, and I can never seem to keep the correct ones hidden when I save my scene.
To set the perspective of your scene, you’ll use the Position Camera Tool. It is a great tool when you are trying to create parallel line views for architecture. You just click and drag the mouse in the direction you want the camera to point. (The idea is to align the camera to one of the axes.) When you let go, the camera will be parallel to whichever axis you snapped to.
Make sure you have “Parallel Lines” selected in the camera menu.
The coolest thing about the Position Camera Tool is that it creates a section cut from the point at which you start your click. So if you want to block something out that is in front of the object you are trying to view, just make sure you start your click in front of that object. Once the camera is oriented, the object will disappear from view. Save your scene, and that’s it. No section plane objects to worry about.
Save everything in the scene
When you are creating your scenes, make sure you configure things like background, colors, line styles, zoom level. All these properties will be carried over to Layout. And remember, if you need to make changes to your model after you’ve imported it to Layout, you can update the model reference in Layout to show all the updated changes. Here are a few things to think about when configuring your styles:
- Background – In the Styles Window, Select Edit, and click the third icon from the left. It looks like a cube, with a blue and brown background. From here you can select your background color. I usually set mine to white in order to save ink when printing.
- Fog – If you have something in the background of your model that you don’t want to include in your view, you can hide it using fog. Open the fog window from
Window --> Fog, and play with the sliders until the background object disappears.
- Shadows – Shadows make a nice visual touch for 2D perspectives. They add a depth cue to the drawing, creating a better communicating model.
- Edge styles – Chose your edge styles wisely. If you are planning on adding dimensions, you might want to eliminate extended ends from your lines. Sketchy edges hint to a more conceptual design, while solid, clean lines are more for coordination drawings.
As a last resort, you can access many of these options right from Layout, but it is much better to go back to the source and correct the issue in Sketchup. I usually leave both programs open at the same time as I go back and forth between them making changes as I go. Once a change has been made in Sketchup, I go back to Layout, select File –> Document Setup –> References –> Update. Be patient while updating, it tends to take a while.
Once you’ve imported your scenes to Layout, set your scale and add your notation. Then you’re done! Once you’ve run through this once or twice, let me know what you think of this method. Do you have any tricks of your own?