How To Set Up Your Sketchup Model For Layout – (VIDEO)

Matt Donley Layout Tutorials, News, Sketchup Tutorials 20 Comments

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
  4. 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 ToolPosition 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?

About the Author

Matt Donley

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Matt has been creating SketchUp tutorials since 2012. After writing the book SketchUp to LayOut, he conducted the "Into to LayOut" seminar at the official SketchUp conference in Colorado. Matt writes about how to use SketchUp for design, construction and 3D printing.

Comments 20

    1. Post
      Matt Donley

      I can remember when I first downloaded the trial, it was a bit overwhelming. But once you understand the connections you build between Sketchup and Layout, you quickly learn how valuable Layout is.

  1. Steve

    Thanks for that post Matt. I own a cabinet shop and am trying to switch from CabinetVision to Sketchup for my presentations.
    I’m really loving Sketchup! Your post on Layout was excellent. I especially love your tip about the Look Around tool. I hated
    managing all the section planes as well. I tried using this method on a bathroom I designed which is only about 6′ deep. When
    I used the Look Around tool I only get a view of the bottom corner of the room. Any suggestions on how to get a view of the
    whole wall like a section plane would show? What am I doing wrong? Thanks again.

    1. Post
      Matt Donley

      Thank you, I’m glad you’re getting some use out of this method! I’m sorry you’re having trouble with it though. Just remember, that the camera “slice” begins at the first point you click. You then set the direction of the camera by dragging and releasing. This really is only effective if you snap to an axis. Once you set a perspective using the position camera tool, if you orbit the camera, you’ll get a weird view like you’re describing, because the camera is still set in that “section” view mode. Try going to the camera menu, and switching back to perspective view, then go back to parallel lines to reset. Hope that helps. If not, send me an email and I can help you.

  2. Peter Laponder

    Hi Matt, I have been using SketchUp since version 4 and always found the section cut tool a pain, especially with a complicated drawing and then having to work with that in Layout. However it was a jaw dropping moment when I saw your tip about using the position camera tool. I wish I knew this all the years back, it would have saved me a lot of time and frustration.
    Thanks very much sharing this with us.

    1. Post
      Matt Donley

      Yes!!! I had the same epiphany when I discovered you could do that! The section tool is pretty powerful, it just adds a lot more work because you have to worry about hiding them in each scene, or assigning them to certain layers to turn them on and off with the saved scene. With this method, you’re not creating any additional objects to manage, you’re just manipulating the camera perspective. I’m glad you found it helpful!

  3. Paul

    Good Video – Thanks Matt-
    Quick question. Often you show things below or above the cut with dashed lines. How would you do this here?

    1. Post
      Matt Donley

      Paul, you’re right. A lot of times when looking at a plan view, for example, you might want to show the countertop as a solid line, but then show the wall cabinets above as a dashed line type.

      Here’s one method of doing that; a technique similar to one of Nick Sonder’s tricks. Basically, you’ll create two plan view scenes. One that just shows the countertop view, and another that shows the wall cabinets only. Then you overlay the wall cabinet scene on top of the countertop scene.

      The trick is, in order for the wall cabinets to look transparent so you can see the countertops below, you need to create a group from a section cut of the wall cabinets. Create a section cut of the wall cabinets, right click the section, and select “Create group from Slice”. Then hide everything else in your model, select a style you like, and save that as a scene.

      When you import that scene into Layout, place it on top of the countertop scene and align it.

  4. Don Woodruff

    Is there a way to control the depth of field in plan view. Say I am doing a plan view and the deck below keeps showing up in the scene, can I control how far down the scene is showing?

    1. Post
      Matt Donley

      Hi Don, there are a number of different ways to address what shows up in your scene. First, you could place that object on a different layer and hide it for that plan view scene. You could also use fog to make the background fade out.

  5. Abhishek

    About your answer to the dashed-line question : regarding the showing of the wall-cabinets above the counter top using dashed lines…… how do you make a continuous line into a dashed line in Sketchup and/or LayOut >

  6. Dimitri Tsimikas

    That is a huge timesaver! I had a real “duh” moment when this info sank in. I particularly liked the bit on saving styles in scenes because I was struggling with that as well. These things seem so obvious in hindsight, that most well- versed users wouldn’t even think to share these critical details with the new guys.
    It’s these types of things that keep me coming back here. When I have relatively simple projects and need to turn out a quick set of drawings, these little tricks save a massive amount of time. Thanks for increasing my productivity!

  7. Steve Roth


    I am thoroughly enjoying your series and tutorials. I do have a question on creating scenes. I can create the scene and even the same view with different styles applied but when I create a new view and save it as a new scene it changes every other changed scene to that new view. It does not, however, change the style. Seems like a simp thing I am not doing but cannot for the life of me figure it out. Can you help?

    Steve R.

    1. Post
  8. dennis


    I’ve got a “problem” with using the camera position like you showed in this video.

    When I make a scene like this and export it to layout everything looks great in raster modus. But when I want to render in Vector or Hybrid all the objects that are basically behind the camera are shown over the render as wired frames….is there a way to turn this off or do i have to hide everything behind the camera to have them not block the view?

    1. Post

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