Do you still draw in 2D?

@TheOnlyAaron recently posed a question to the audience during live streaming: Do people still draw in 2D?

OK, I’ll start. I certainly do. Of course I’m an old fart, and maybe it’s a product of my history, but I think there’s more to it than that. 2D drawing is a way of abstracting a problem to it’s essential elements and issues. 2D is sometimes a way to work out geometry problems in their purest form.

An example just this week: I needed a spiral stair to solve a design problem. After going to 3D Warehouse for the new spiral stair LIve Component, I found it was buggy and unusable in real world. No problem, I’ll just whip one up old school. After researching manufacturers specs, I my first act was to turn to good old faithful, PowerCADD, to draw the base geometry in 2D. I can rely on it to do the math for anything intensive of arcs and circles. (Yes, I know there are extensions to help SU with it’s limitations, but why bother when you’ve got the best tool right at arm’s length.) That then became the basis of building it in 3D with SketchUp, finishing with @eneroth3’s Upright Extruder for the railings.

I was always taught, “Use the right tool for the job,” as in, “Don’t use a screw driver for a chisel,” so, yes, when the need calls for it, I use the best 2D tools I have and work in 2D, and when the need calls for it, I use the best 3D tools I have.

2D Worksheet:

SketchUp Component Worksheet

Put in use:


Of course :grimacing:

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I too do some work in 2D only.

If all you need is 2D space planning, why complicate things? Also, authorities around the world remain stuck in a 2D environment. So, although elevations of buildings look much more realistic when you add perspective, because they are then not to a standard scale, authorities won’t accept them.

Unlike @RTCool, I don’t make use of third party software. I find I can use SU just fine but working solely on the XY plane and in parallel projection.

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Of course, all the time.

The really sad thing is that it appears for all the years that SU has existed, in whatever form and whatever corporate owner, they have never understood the fundamental hook of the software.
The drawing tools are simple and do what you want with a few clicks. If those same tools worked in a 2d format with true ‘arc’ ‘curve’ circle’ etc there would be a world of difference.
I’ve never understood why you can’t draw in layout the same way you can in SU, but with ‘2d’ settings. Layout should be the Cad of preference rather than the thing we tend to avoid.



Yes, a lot because i do subdivision plans like this one. Some large, some small…all with lot areas in a schedule, labels, etc (not shown in the snip)

SketchUp is far from ideal for this type of work, where 2d faces and accurate areas are critical - but, surprisingly, autocad (which i have, and can use well) is no better.

I do then take the plan into “3d mode” with contours etc and add buildings, eventually working up to a full life-like level of detail.

masterplan snip


Do a lot of those too… initially in 2d and then ad massing in 3d…
I usually screen capture out to my Samsung Tab S4 [Sketchbook app - Free] and
sketch design developments there and then adjust the SU 2D layout accordingly

SU gives me the accuracy [1] , Sketchbook gives me the freedom!

Also do a lot of space planning in a similar way , eg this highrise, many different options just on layers in sketchbook unit I am happy… then apply in SU.

[1] accurate but not deadly accurate [ curves are an issue! ]

PS. Have not used pen and paper since 2012, saved a lot of trees


You and me both. It goes for a host of things that work differently in the two “sister” programs. Sisters who often speak different languages, seemingly.

Presumably it is all to do with how LO was originally developed and may explain why development now consists largely of tinkering around the edges.


Yes of course!
If I would only use SU for my daily workflow It would be impossible to create all die Drawings I need.
I use Allplan, and of course I draw 3d models. I don´t like it very much in SU, that the 2d Annotation is only possible in Layout. I do these kind of things in Allplan directly beside my 3d model. Another thing are Detail Drawings (Drawing in scale f. e. in 1:10). I like these awesome looking Details from Nick Sonder a lot, but we do all of these very fast in pure 2d.
And yes, as RTCool mentioned, sometimes it is faster working stuff out first in 2d.

I really wish it would be possible to draw directly in SU additional in 2d with different lineweights, hatchings, Dimensioning, Patterns, Text and so on.

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definitely use 2D for construction drawing purposes (most building code officials want to see 2D representations). and most times i use my custom dynamic components and scripts to generate 3D and then view 2D & wireframe to quickly go from 3D to 2D. some detailed views are 2D only. and it would be nice if LO behaved better as a 2D tool…

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yea, no 3D w/o 2D.

I recently dove into Procreate for the iPad. I wonder how they compare.

I agree with many of your points.

The things that really suck about 2d drafting in SU are:

  • not being able to lock to a 2d plane. You have to fudge it with some artificial/temporary polygon and try to snap to that…very odd!
  • objects interacting with each other even when you dont want them to (breaking edges)
  • curves (in general)
  • small edges, gaps, etc being too easy to create and too hard to identify.

There are some SU rules that make 2d modelling difficult. EG if we want to create face, but the outer edge has a small edge sticking out - why doesnt SketchUp just create the face if we want it to?
close face please
And why does SKP allow fighting faces in circumstances that they shouldnt occur?

However I definitlely would not draw in Layout, beyond annotations or non-physical stuff (eg if i was drawing a 500metre diameter circle to show scale on my site plan, that could be done in LayOut becuase it’s not part of the physical environment).

IMO LayOut should focus on annotation and illustration tools - ideally. I imagine something like cross between Adobe Illustrator’s visual styles (fonts, lineweights, arrows, pattern fills, etc), and what AutoCAD LT has for labelling, dimensions, etc. That would be super-powerful. I think Vectoworks is the best example of a Hybrid 2d/3d programme (though it seems like the 2d is the original and 3d was added…wheras SKP would be 3d originally with the 2d part added).

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I think for basic sketching and overlay work very similar… SketchBook is free and the UI seems simpler… I have read that artists / illustrators prefer Procreate…


I am in full agreement with RTCool, using the best tools for the job, PowerCadd for all 2D drawing, SketchUp for 3D. I am in my 57th year of producing construction documentation having used PowerCadd for the last 31 years. Simple, elegant and fast, PowerCadd + SketchUp. Now if Trimble would only grant me me wish and purchase PowerCadd.


But only MAC based it seems

Hi, your’e not an “old fart”, but an experienced draftsman that is probably better producing than “young smart designers”, because you don’t just “draw” but build…

I basically only use 2D and use 3D only for specific reasons, like a hard detail to explain to someone that does not know how to read a plan or some clients that can’t “see” anything…

In the case below, I have to understand what a “highest degree architect did” getting out with the highest degree from the highest school did with the drainage system for my client, that complaint that for some reason, there is more water than before in here basement ;o(

I can insure you that the “architect” is a real artist with 3D, my client called in love (with the drawing), but now regrets of not having called me first ;o)

No, your’e not an “old fart” ;o))
MCL_1210601_Releve_Niveaux_Ext.pdf (448.5 KB)
MCL_1210803_Relevé_Plan_E-E_D.pdf (52.2 KB)
MCL_1210201_MF_Drains_2016.pdf (211.9 KB)


That’s my question. Why would Trimble buy a Mac only CAD program to replace Layout? Is Trimble going to covert PC to a Mac/Win10 program? I remember playing around with PC back around 2002. We had a few Mac guys where I was working that were looking for a Mac based CAD program.

sketchup + powercadd = greatest one/two punch in the history of CADD. Too bad Powercadd is not converting to the 64-bit machines.