Creating orthographic views with consistent zoom and camera height


My workflow for placing sections and elevations on a Layout page is:

  1. Insert a view, set the scene to “Elevation 1” and set the correct scale.
  2. Copy the view to the left or right and then change the scene of the copy to “Elevation 2”.
  3. Repeat as necessary.

Doing it this way aligns the viewports nicely, but it doesn’t typically align the objects within them, because the camera position is set “by hand” in each scene. So in order to get all my floors and ceilings to align across the page, I have to add the following steps to my process:

  1. With object snap on, move the viewport handle to a point on the floor.
  2. With grid snap on, move the viewport to a grid line.
  3. Repeat for each viewport.

All this position tweaking could be avoided if I could set up multiple Sketchup scenes with a consistent zoom and camera height. Is there any way to do that?


Take a look at the trial extension I provided in this topic:


Hey, that’s a pretty nice extension. But it synchs a bit more than I need… only the zoom and camera Z need to be the same. The camera orientation and X-Y location would be different for each scene. Think of four elevations of the four walls of a room.


Can you share an example SketchUp file so that I can be sure I understand what you mean? Your initial post describes a combination of SketchUp and LayOut, but then we’re talking about a SketchUp extension so I’m not certain I know what is needed. What I’m reading seems to say that you want the SketchUp camera placed at the same height from the floor/ground plane and the same distance from each target wall, pointing squarely at that wall? That would leave you only one degree of freedom: sideways position along the wall, not arbitrary x,y, but that seems to be what you are describing with the references to object snap and grid snap in viewports.


You’re reading it correctly… it is a combination of SketchUp and Layout. I’m asking about how to achieve uniform conditions for my ortho scenes in Sketchup, but the desired result is geometry that will align without adjustments in LayOut. And you describe it well when you say that the camera would be placed at the same height and same distance from each target wall, pointing squarely at that wall. Relative to each view, the only variable would be the sideways position along the wall. When I said that the X and Y could vary, I meant in the absolute sense, since the camera would have to be in a different XY position for each wall/scene.

I could probably draw a perpendicular guideline of fixed length from the midpoint of each wall and then use Position Camera to place the camera at each guidepoint. Which is a little finicky, especially for sections/interior elevations because the guidepoint would always be on the wrong side of the section cut, so to put the camera there you’d have to turn off “Display Section Cuts,” and then turn it back on before saving the scene.


Yes you can setup your scenes with the same camera properties and save them in the Camera Location property in Scene Tray. This could look complicated but is not. Try this:

  • Select the scene you want to use as reference, check if the Camera is set to Parallel Projection and choose one of the Standar Views, like Top for floor plans.

  • Zoom/pan as required, when you are OK, update you scene by R-Click in the scene tab. If your scene is already well setup you don’t need to update.

  • While the reference scene still selected (is in SketchUp working area) go to Scene Tray and selected all the scenes you want to have the same camera properties, this include the reference scene.

  • Then Un-Check and Check the Camera Location Properties, this will copy the scene properties from the reference scene.


What you describe is a manual way to accomplish the same thing as I did with the extension referenced earlier. I wasn’t aware that set of steps would work when I wrote it. I general I prefer manual techniques using built-in tools rather than extensions unless the manual technique is laborious or error-prone. In this case it seems the amount of work would be less than using my extension if you want only to affect selected scenes, so thanks for the insight! (Mine might be faster if you want to sync all scenes).

However, that doesn’t address what @des needs. It makes all scenes’ cameras identical. He wants one scene with a (say) front view looking at the center of a particular wall, a second scene with a (say) right view looking at the adjacent wall, etc. Those cameras are both rotated and repositioned from scene to scene.

I think I can implement what he requested, but need to do some more experimenting with parallel projection (orthographic) cameras to sort it out. Treating an orthographic view as a “camera” is a bit awkward and unnatural, and I’m finding that some of the methods in the Ruby API don’t do what I would expect from the documentation when a camera is in orthographic mode.


Thanks. That’d be the easiest way I can think of to set two scenes with all the camera properties the same, but I only want some of the camera properties to be the same.

I realize I’m trying to describe a graphical issue to a forum of graphical thinkers using words instead of pictures. Probably that’s why I’m having trouble communicating. So let me draw something up and post it…


Attached is the result I want. If each viewport were a piece of paper, I’d want the elevation to start at the same point from the bottom edge of the page.

Maybe there’s another way to accomplish this, but I am guessing the keys are camera height and zoom. In theory zoom shouldn’t matter, since the scale will be set in Layout, but in practice, different zooms do affect the position of the object in the frame. IE if the camera height is the same (set with Position Camera) but the zoom is not, the floor-to-bottom-of-view distance will not be the same.

This is not a huge issue - tweaking viewports is not an onerous task. But if I had a method to make scenes with consistent zoom and camera Z, I could set up drawing templates with viewports and titles laid out. Which would be really cool!


That’s how I interpreted your request. I’m working on sorting out the required camera settings to automate it.

Update: I have it figured out but have run out of time to work on this just now. Maybe tomorrow…


@des please check your PM’s. I attempted to send you a beta version, but my network connection was flakey and I don’t know whether it went through…


Darn those internets! Yes, I got your PM, and I replied. Twice in fact.


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