Better defaults needed for Sketchup (==> more like 123D Design)



Is there a way to:
a) create a visible grid (at zero height)
b) make this grid snap-able at 1mm divisions
c) make the plan of the grid semi-translucent (so if an object sinks into it you can see what has happened easily
d) make the objects have light shadows (to help us see what’s going on)
e) ==> make all of the above become the default settings for any new file.

I have been experimenting with 123D Design (from Autodesk). And the above settings are all defaults in 123D Design all of which combine to (IMHO) make 123D Design feel much easier to use than Sketchup (Make).




Yes. You can do all that in SketchUp. But there’s no need if you actually learn to use the program as it is.

It sounds like you’ve already made your decision, though.


There is no grid in SU because none is needed (although there are ways to create a grid, just as there are ways to communicate with smoke signals instead of simply using your cell phone). A grid is really rather a crude device, providing a very coarse granularity; it can’t compare (or compete) with SU’s inferencing system, which affords you the ability to create objects quickly to size and to position them with precision, based either on references to other objects, or the axis system, or simply by inputting exact dimensions. Personally, I would regard the use of a grid as a handicap, whose effect would be to slow me down and make my models crude and inaccurate.

The only thing standing in your way of using this method is your apparent failure to teach yourself the program before proposing changes to it.



The only thing standing in your way of using this method is your apparent failure to
teach yourself the program before proposing changes to it.

Maybe. But I am wanting to work quickly SKETCHING in 3D in whole millimeters.

It sounds like you’ve already made your decision, though.
No. I am evaluating options.


You can’t evaluate options you don’t know about or haven’t tried.

I would be astounded if an experienced SU user ever steered you toward a grid, since it is such a conspicuously poor choice.



Perhaps since you aren’t interested in actually learning how to use the program as you’ve already admitted, you should hire someone else to do the work.

You cannot make a good evaluation of a tool without learning how to use it.


You have 3 Sages wrinting that a grid doesn’t help and isn’t necessary in SketchUp, that should be enough evaluation for this point.

If you can’t live without it (you should try to!), you can have a look at TIGs work plane plugin.


Perhaps we all should answer a different question, of “how in SketchUp would I model things so that all edges snap to the nearest millimeter”.



Use a millimeter template when you want to draw in millimeters. There should be a 3d printing template already. Set up any other customization you want from that starting point and save that file as a new template. You also can set to use the Sun for shading and save that to the template too.

Box is using a plugin to draw a grid. If it’s the one from the SU team on the extension warehouse, it’s parametric. Select the grid > r-click and edit to change.

In SU, YOU set the defaults YOU want to work with. AU has many millions more users, and all their requirements are unique. It make more sense to customize SU than bloat the program with a bunch of stuff.


That style tends to come from the 2D drawing world. For example, SketchUp Pro’s 2D companion LayOut has a grid template and snap to grid settings (which is automatically turned on when you select a grid / engineering paper-like template.


You cannot make a good evaluation of a tool without learning how to use it.
I have spent a week of my life watching Sketchup videos and using it.
So far although I am blown away by certain brilliant aspects of it, it is very buggy and clunky as a modeler of 3D solids.
There are plenty other 3D modeling softwares to choose from - and I can’t spend a week learning all of them.

Back to the subject of this thread, the core principle is that all 3D modelling software should broadly mimic the human experience of being in a workshop and working on a physical solid. And where different from the real-world experience it should be a clear improvement upon it (e.g. extruding)

e.g. "Look, here is a new object. Let’s put in on a table - i.e. a surface. Can’t see the surface - let’s give it a faint grid. Dont like the grid? make it dead easy to turn off. " etc etc

Likewise I can see no good reason not to snap intelligently to nearest millimeter so long as it is dead easy to over-ride.

But the real answer to this debate should be user trials to discover the simplest and most obvious way of doing things - and mostly even though the sage old hands may have the loudest voices mostly they are too close to the problem.


You can activate snapping in the preferences.


It looks to me like the Sages were the only ones who thought your suggestion even warranted a response. Problem? What problem?



I’m here in large part because of how SU mimics my work in a shop - professional cabinetry, display, sculpture and some metal. I knew from the first Push/Pull (that’s patented) I would buy it. SU feel like working with clay when I do sculpture.

My bias against grids may be more from not needing grid paper for anything in the real world. But one of the first sample plugins the SU team wrote was grid.rb for the loud voices of a few forum members who liked grids. I never used it for anything in SU yet.


It is easy to set-up your model to have a 1mm snap grid - I believe you do this in the ‘Model Info’ window.


I’m not sure what discussion you were looking at, but it couldn’t have been this one since nobody here said anything about 123D one way or the other. If you like it, mazel tov. That’s just fine with me.

Now, if you or the OP are in the habit of asking for advice from experts and then rejecting it when it doesn’t comport with your preconceptions, that’s your prerogative, I suppose, although–why even bother?



Please explain what you mean


Incidentally do any of you good people have any experience of using Onshape?
I am also trialing Fusion 360 which too can do parametric modelling.

I am new to 3D modelling, but parametric modelling seems rather brilliant.

Is it possible through plugins to get SketchUp to become parametric?
Personally not only have I found SU to be unsatisfactory as a solid modeler which far too many holes appearing in surfaces that shouldnt have appeared… but also when one needs do fundamental changes to one’s design (e.g. where the engineering is somewhat tentative) it is them even more painful to have to re-do your work. Just saying.


Dynamic Components are parametric. The ability to create a DC is a pro feature. But anyone can use a finished DC. Probably best to view the YouTube videos and download some DCs through the Components dialog. DCs have a little green symbol in the lower right corner.

There once was a commercial plugin called Driving Dimensions which dynamically changing dimensions. But apparently it didn’t generate enough intere$t.

Regarding the holes you are encountering while modeling, you are getting them because the small size of your models. If any tool operation ends up creating new geometry with any edge around a mm or less, holes can result. This is bumping into a limitation of OpenGL. There are two way to avoid this holiness.

Temporarily Scale up your model 10-1000x, do your modeling then Scale down when done. The other method first needs you to make your tiny part a Component. As all copies of the same component will change with each editing you can exploit this property. Make a copy of your tiny component part and paste it off to the side. Select the component copy and Scale up the copy. Then double-click the enlarged copy to edit that now oversized geometry. The changes you make will be seen in the original component.

Delete the large component copy when done or just keep it around to be able to be able to view that part with greater ease if the original component is a bit buried among other part in the main modeling area.