3 Ways to boost your CAD to 3D Workflow

You might love or hate CAD files, but if you find .dwg files circling through your workflow, we suggest you check out the latest Campus Track: 3 Ways to boost your CAD to 3D Workflow

The process is broken down into 3 methods, which also apply to how you might receive .dwg files. If you create the files yourself, check out our suggestions for how to optimize the files before importing them into SketchUp.

If you are given the files and just need to make the best of them inside SketchUp, we’ve got you covered there as well with 2 different approaches with suggestions for using the native tools or some extensions.

Please share your feedback and ask questions here, we are eager to hear what you think.


It was a beneficial track of classes. Only thing that I might suggest is explain more as doing things, such as deleting/hiding layers in track one. That went by really fast and I had to watch that step several times. I get both cad files and PDFs and they each have their challenges in getting into SU. Thanks for doing these!

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Thanks for the feedback, if you have any more, please let us know.

Interesting & useful track. I’m not interested in using CAD, but plan to convert PDFs to DXF files and then trace over those. I thought the tips in method 3 would be useful, but, being a novice, I’m trying to figure out how the gray color is applied to the lines, rectangles etc. your drawing over the base layer. Is the color applied to a certain layer? Sorry if the answer’s already in the lesson and I missed it
Maybe there’s a separate tutorial for that?

I think there are 2 ways you could approach this, Styles or Color by layer. (Or a combination of the two)

Color by Layer (Tags):
Group all the CAD linework together, then put that group on a new layer. (Layers- now Tags in 2020) Toggle ‘Color by Layer’ on and that is what makes the CAD linework layer appear in one color. Change the default layer color to something different, and now as you draw, that will appear in a different color.

Create a unique style and in the linework, toggle edge color ‘by Material’. This will let you color edges differently. Apply a color to the linework group and all those edges should inherit that color.
Create a new group for the linework you are drawing on top of the original and color that group with a different color. -You may want to create a new surface color as well.

In both cases, it’s a good idea to lock the underlying group so it can’t be modified, and Eric also creates some scenes that toggle the original group on and off by hiding it’s layer (Tag)

Hope this makes sense.

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