A special thank you to the SketchUp Development Team

I am writing to express sincere appreciation to the SketchUp development team regarding the 2020 release. In particular, the ability to edit Groups in context is a remarkable improvement. This capability allows you to see other components, and to snap to them while editing inside of a group.

I design a lot of 3D plastic parts, and Sketchup has never been good at that where parts need to fit together, or when printing multi-color or multi-material parts. The ability to edit Groups in context completely fixes this.

With 3D printing, many printers such as the Prusa require that you produce closed volumes for each color or material to be printed. You basically submit multiple parts that fit perfectly together. In the past, producing such parts has been almost impossible because a single surface needs to be closing each volume, and each volume must be exported individually. There has been no good way to export a portion of these Siamese twins. In short, color printing, and making parts that fit together has been horrid under Sketchup.

Now, it is easy. You create the first part and put it into a Group. Then, create a new Group on a different Tag/Layer. The new/second part can be a separate part that fits or can be a different color or material. When editing the second part you can snap-to the mating points on the original part. And, the new part has separate surfaces and lines that are distinct from the original. So you can enable displaying the one part you want to print (turn on only that layer) and then select all and then export only the selected components. You get an STL file that Prusa or other printers can accept. Repeat this for each part or material and import them as “Add parts” in Prusa slicer. What’s great is that everything fits perfectly.

I do find a few things still quite awkward, and would like these to be considered as development suggestions:

It is awkward to start a new part. You must create a new layer. Then, you must draw a “bogus” (disposable) surface, then make it into a Group. Now, you can Open the Group for editing and can create the real part, and only after creating several surfaces can you delete the “bogus” surface you originally created to form the Group.

A cleaner user interface would be to designate a Layer/Tag as “isolated” or a “Layer Group”. Turning on that option would mean that this layer was also a Group. Moving the pencil to the layer would open the “Layer Group”. It would be much more obvious and straightforward to create parts:

  1. Create a Layer.
  2. Mark the Layer as a “Layer Group” or an “Isolated Layer”. (This creates a Group behind the scenes)
  3. Whenever the pencil is on an “Isolated Layer” the group is opened.

In effect, this would give Isolated Layers complete isolation from other parts of the model. You could then use Layers to run on and off features, rooms, parts, etc as desired. It would fulfill the one feature long missing from Sketchup.

Before the “Editing in Context” of Groups, it was impossible to size, fit, move or precisely mimic the mating surfaces. Now, it is easy, straightforward, and a true joy to use. (But still a pain to set up.)

Adding the “Isolated Layer” or “Grouped Layer” feature would round this out, nd make it easy to get going without having to create bogus parts, etc.

There are no words to describe how this feature has made Sketchup so much better for 3D printing where parts must precisely mate.

I also do architectural work, and it will be great to be able to have rooms and elements within a room that can be sized and fitted precisely.

Thank you.

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I don’t see why the first face or line you make (“bogus”) can’t just be the beginning of the geometry of your group. Why are you throwing it away? True the group can’t exist before (at least) a line is drawn. Actually seems to me:

  1. You don’t “have to” create a layer or tag unless you’d like to easily hide the object in the future.
  2. You don’t have to create a group at all until you are done with drawing the part- (or you wish to go on to working on another part and want to keep the first part separate). Since you have already correctly grouped the previous parts, there’s no problem of geometry sticking or getting mixed up with the new work, grouped or not.

(I won’t comment on the main topic–I don’t use 2020, but its very nice to be thankful!)

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  1. You cannot create a group and then draw in it. You must draw something and then create a group out of it.

  2. In 3D solids you need your lines to all align perfectly. But you can’t draw a line on top of another line unless they are separated by a group. So you can’t just start drawing since what you would draw would be lines on top of existing lines. By creating a bogus item you can start the group, then open the group, and now you can begin drawing lines on top of existing lines (that are outside the group.)

  3. When creating STL files, you create one STL file for all watertight spaces made from a particular color or material. So you want to select all of the groups made from that color or material. This can be quite tedious on a complicated model with many groups. So placing one “Master Group” into each layer, with each layer being one color or material type then allows you to select or deselect all of the groups that use that color or material.

The 3D Slicer for printing needs a single STL file with all solids of that material/color. So you go through each material one-at-a-time creating the STL files. Thus, the need to enable and disable all groups of the same color.

If there could be “Isolated Layers” where everything not hat layer was automatically thrown into a group then it would be much less obscure and would directly accomplish what all 3D printer people really want when doing multi-color or multi-material prints.

It is a huge, enormous enhancement that when editing a Group you can see and click-through to other objects in the model…thus assuring perfect alignment and overcoming the problem of the need for shared lines and surfaces.

Do you have the “Hide Rest of Model” option selected? (any SU version)
View >Component Edit > Hide Rest of Model

Read this discussion for more information and a video tutorial: Edit group, Other groups Disappear - #2 by ad_1011

?! :thinking:

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I for one agree creating bogus geometry and group early can be a good way to avoid accidental merging between the newly drawn object and existing geometry. A way to first start an object and then start drawing it would be nice. You can get around it by making sure everything is already grouped, and there is no raw geometry to accidentally merge to.

I don’t see any reason to mix up tags and groups though. If you don’t want sticking, you can already use groups. Making it an active choice to make some tags also function as containers isn’t any easier to use or understand than just creating a container the existing way. Also the phrase Isolate layer sounds more like the act of only displaying a single layer, not the noun phrase of a layer isolating geometry. If you don’t think of tags as layers (containers) but properties, the current behavior makes perfect sense. The name was just changed to reflect how this feature has always worked, so I don’t find it likely it would be changed to function like a layer.

These often-used View menu items are not new to SU 2020, or even SU v6
Experienced modelers usually set up a keyboard shortcut for each.

• View > Component Edit > Hide Rest of Model
• View > Component Edit > Hide Similar Components

Screen Shot 07-22-18 at 07.38 PM

What you need to know about components — SketchUp Help


What I said and Eneroth said again. If you make groups, nothing will stick together in the first place, because you are drawing over groups, and no one needs bogus drawing,

This is one way if I understand your thoughts. (I can’t make movies) No bogus geometry or tracing over

Draw first part and group.

Edit group and copy faces you need for the second part

exit group and paste in place (first part moved for illustration)

Reverse faces

model rest of second part

color second part

group second part

two separate parts

Another approach would use solid tools.

No layers were harmed in the making of this post (or created).


Awkward indeed, and completely unnecessary.

Best Practice:
Build the first logical part of the model and make it a Component, which isolates the geometry inside.
That done; one can build the next part of the model directly upon the first and make it a Component.
And so on, until the model is complete.

A properly constructed model…
• is an assembly of Groups* and Components. (Experienced modelers tend to prefer all components)
• has no raw geometry left floating about in the model space.
• is one where all raw geometry is created and remains forever Untagged*
*Formerly known as Default Layer0.

Layers/Tags have nothing to do with isolating/protecting geometry to prevent it melding together.

Locking each Component as it’s created makes selecting all subsequently drawn raw geometry for the next Component as easy as … Select All > Make Component.


This sounds like a task that could be streamlined using a Ruby script.

It would mimic the following workflow.

  • You paint each group with materials (likely untextured colors.)
  • You right-click a particular color material in the “In Model” collection within the Materials inspector, and choose Select.
  • You right-click on the selection of all these (group) instances in the model, and choose Save As and save that set of groups to a new .skp file.
  • Later open that file and export as STL.

Please realize that SketchUp layers were never geometric collections and cannot become this. This is why their name was changed to tag. Objects cannot be put “on” or “in” layer/tags, because the tags are nothing more than a display behavioral property sheet, that by design can be shared with any object independent of the geometric model hierarchy.

Ie, … think of tags as categories. “Windows”, “Doors” etc. are tagged as such for scheduling purposes and it doesn’t matter if they are within the ground floor group or the second floor group. (The purchasing agent doesn’t care where they’ll be installed, he just will need to order the correct quantity.)

So objects are tagged to use a common set of display properties or perhaps a tag that is uniquely used by only one object. It is the objects that have a property that points at a tag to use, not layer/tags that “own” objects (or collections of objects.)

I am also curious as to why you think this is a new feature? Groups have always been edited in place.

It is up to you the user to decide how much of the background model you wish to see by adjusting the settings in the Model Info > Components panel.

Inferences have always been able to infer things outside the current editing context (although improvements have been made over the years and versions,) … as long as those external objects are not hidden.

Can you point us to something in the ver2020 release notes that has been added or fixed to make your group editing really easier ?

Yes I agree, and no.

You can start with a core design, make a component or group, and then continue. That is AN approach.

With 3D plastics you need to group the groups so that for each material all of the groups with that material are exported together…and only them. This is where Layers/Tags come into play: grouping the Groups.

Where your approach doesn’t work well is that you can’t see what you are building if you do it outside of a group. Everything is fully displayed, and it is hard to tell which pieces are yours and which are other Groups/Components.

With SketchUp 2020 when you edit a Group, everything else can be displayed grayed/dimmer. This makes it remarkably easier to do editing on the piece you are interested in.

You mention that Sketchup wasn’t designed and can never be…I find this a bit fatalistic.

Ig you could designate a Layer/Tag as being “isolated” it would imply that it is one group, isolated from the others. For 3D design it would make designing multiple colors and materials remarkably easier and simpler.

This has always been possible as long as I’ve been using SketchUp. The oldest version I still have (mostly) working here is Google SketchUp 8 and editing groups was done the same way there.


Those don’t do anything to group geometry. They just allow you to hide and unhide components.

Indeed! Here’s a group open for editing in SketchUp 3.1.


In my demo, yes you can group at any time if you want. You can group as soon as do the “paste in place” in my post (if that is part of your workflow–it’s just a suggestion for making parts fit exactly). Then you can toggle visibility of the rest of the model all you like.

You can group groups by selecting them and grouping. You might make a component and name it “All Yellow Parts”. As Dan suggests maybe a plugin might help specifically selecting all the parts of desired color for making the component.

Also if you put all your yellow part groups on a layer called Yellow parts, then, hiding other layers, they can be selected easily for placing in a separate model then separate stl.

Also what about “Color by Layer” in the Layer window under the menu in the upper right corner. I wonder if that would be a good way to organize your colors and if that would help in .stl exports.