Does scale matter?

Hello! A question regarding the inner workings of sketchup. When creating extremely large models, ie. say 1000m plus, is there any benefit in not modelling at 1:1 scale? Is sketchup’s rendering/navigation affected only by the number of objects in a model, or does scale matter? Do very large dimensions affect the processing for navigating and exporting?

yes and no.

Sketchup has trouble with super small faces, and with super large models. how large ? I once worked on a file that was about 1km x 1km, no problems. The issue is with the distance from the origin, not the actual size of the model.

So it depends what you need to do :

let’s say I’m modelling a pocketwatch. I’ll probably model it 1000x bigger, using the measurement in millimetres BUT the file in meters, so I’ll avoid tiny faces issue.

let’s say I’m modelling a simple urban zoning of the whole city of Marseille. Simple rectangular blocks with colours to repensent the building blocks. I’ll probably start at 1:1, but if SU has problems running the 50 km2 file (the further you go from the origin, the higher risk), I might scale it down 10%, but only in case of problems.

Every project is different, so is every machine. My mac mini will manage a bigger area than my old 2007 macbook pro. and a 1km2 detailed file will cause more issues than a 5km2 minimalist one.

so I’ll answer again :

No. Don’t scale stuff, design 1:1
If, and only If, you run into visual / rendering troubles due to scale (tiny faces or weird bleedthrough and jagged edges), then maybe it’s worth considering.

and to re-answer the quote I made, it’s a combo of both. 50 tables will be ok, scale them 0,001 they might have rendering issues, scale them 1000 they might too have issues, mostly the ones furthest from origin. So unless you meet a rendering problem, 1/1 is good.


Thank you so much, that is the perfect answer and good general advice regarding SUs limitations, particularly distance from the origin.

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oh, and I guess you mean … scale it down TO 10%, and not BY 10%?

Scale definitely has its quirks, hence the legendary Dave Method of modeling, which is what @ateliernab is somewhat demonstrating with their pocket watch project. The Method involves taking advantage of how components work, but the basic principle is likely as old as CAD itself. I work at 10:1 scale for my 3D printing as the app tends to misbehave when modeling small things, especially when it comes to curves and using profiles with the follow me tool. This has somewhat improved, but I’ve been modeling in 10x for about 5 years now and I don’t like breaking good workflows, even something as trivial as moving a decimal place. I joke it’s a kind of encryption, like that staff height in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Bingo! When it comes to large projects, long lists of items can be a death sentence to your modeling session running efficiently. This is particularly true when it comes to the 3D Warehouse. It’s a great resource, but you have to be careful that the model you’re importing has been optimized to be as lightweight as possible (or you’re going to have to do the culling yourself once it’s in your model). For example, I reduced a file size from 1.1MB down to 89KB just by removing the geolocation information (since that included a satellite map and topology of the area). I mentioned components before, and if you’re going to have a lot of identical items in your model, namely furniture or vegetation or columns, make them into components. Fortunately, when you import models from 3D Warehouse or even your own files, they enter as components by default, streamlining the duplication process.

May your zooms and pans be smooth and your file size featherlight.

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Oh yeah, sorry, it made more sense in my head :slight_smile: French.

Yeah, a 1km file scaled down so it mesures 100m. same way, a 1mm watch scaled up so it now mesures 1m.

you get the idea :sweat_smile:

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As @ateliernab said it depends also on your machine, I’ve worked with models bigger than 10000 m2 on a 2013 13” MacBook Pro with no issues but optimizing the way I model, like hiding layers or elements that I don’t need and working with referenced files, the same file on my 2021 m1 max Mac book pro and my very powerful desktop pc I don’t have to do that I can work directly on the same viewport with everything on, I think that your RX 6600 can handle big projects without any problem, as long as you don’t use a lot of assets from the 3D warehouse and unnecessarily big textures.

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