Drawing & Rendering architectural symbols

There are a number of ways to produce the architectural symbols required for detail drawings, including using the drawing tools available in both SU and LO. Specifically, standard symbols for concrete, wall insulation, plywood, native soil backfill, etc. I’ve even created symbols in Photoshop, imported them and added them to the SU file Materials list. One of the consequences of applying different drawing and rendering methods is a lack of consistency in appearance between the final different drawings.

This whole exercise of recreating the architectural symbols from scratch has been a great lesson on the application of line widths within SU and LO.Here is a great read on the subject, in the SketchUp Help Center.

(Working with SketchUp Dashes in Imported Models | SketchUp Help)

But I still feel like I’m reinventing the cart wheel when there is already an all-season, bullet proof, highly efficient wheel out there. This thought preceded a question.

How do (the majority) of architects and engineers draw and render architectural symbols?? I shall probably continue to explore the various methods to some degree but would be very interested in learning how I ‘should’ be doing this particular task.

Here are two screenshots, the first from SU, the second from LO. SU profile lines are set to 1. Depth Cue is turned off. The concrete architectural symbol is comprised of the dots, which are a material in SU, and the little triangles which are drawn in SU. In the LO SketchUp Model window, line scale is set to .1. There are no stacked viewports. Render mode is Hybrid. The issue here is that in LO the material appears blurry while the rest of the drawing is quite clear and distinct.

Thoughts and guidance would be gratefully received.


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What’s the display resolution?

It’s 2560 X 1600.

I see. Also what is the display resolution under “Document Setup / Paper” (LayOut)?

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Ahh, this was the issue with the blurry dots. I’ve never changed this setting. It was set to ‘low’ for display and ‘high’ for output. Thanks for your help pbacot.

I am old school and use colour to denote materials… not hatch patterns… that was the way we used to do it back in the 50’s… watercolour the dyeline print… soft green for concrete, soft red for brick… yellow for plaster… blue for glass… council would not accept anything less… much easier now with computers… sorta " back to the future"

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Sadly our (new zealand) authorities require everything in Black and White for construction docs.

Not everybody follows that convention, but it is the standard.


I know exactly what you mean, with the colours denoting materials. I remember drawings like that. It was a pleasing style.

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I do what you show in your first screenshot, adding fill in SU and I make do with the standard fills SU provides.

The only problem with doing this is that fills usually apply to 2D section cuts and it is messy to incorporate 2D drawings in amongst the 3D ones (though there are perfectly good ways of doing so). I have recently taken to making slices from section cuts and exporting them to a new SU drawing, then bringing everything together in LO. That is also a bit messy in other ways, but it keeps the 3D model clean.

Funny, I never used color in construction drawings until I got a wide format inkjet plotter in the late '90’s. With blueline prints up until then, hatches and line weights were everything, but with the inkjet plotter, color denoting New, Existing, Removed and Reused was greatly appreciated. When the plotter died, and I priced color output from a print service, that eliminated color from most of the copies for construction. Now the drawings have to work as well in grey scale as in color, at least for construction drawings. Design drawings still need all the glory of color you can get.

Blueprints were something I never saw in Australia in the 70s… or offices used ammonia dyeline printing… we could layer water colours on those for council submissions… now I never print anything… all issues are PDF so no printing costs or limitations :slight_smile:

I suspect we’re just using different terms for the same thing. I found true “Blueprints” (white lines on blue background) among my father’s drawings (1940-1955), but by the time I started school in '79 “Blueprints” (or “Blueline prints” I was told) were blue lines on white background.

I remember a lot of markers on prints for color back then, but not water color. I wouldn’t think the paper tolerated water that well.

In school, we were taught Beaux-Arts style water color rendering. I guy in the class ahead of me did a full blown Beaux-Arts thesis project from the design through all the final drawings being water color on Arches 140 lb cold press traced on a light table and stretched on stretchers. As with the tradition, he needed help to complete the drawings.

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You could get ammonia prints on different materials, some of them tolerated watercolour quite well. There was also the other “Diazo” process that used a water solution as developer so the paper was more water resistant and the machine could be used in a normal office environment with no special air conditioning.

A blueprint is an important ingredient in


Thank you Simon. This is exactly the sort of feedback I was looking for. This project is my first attempt at modelling and producing drawings. Early on (January 2021), I had discovered those built in fill patterns, but then I forgot they were there when it came time to create the 2D details.

I had already created a separate file for my 2D detail drawings with an interest in keeping my 3D model a little tidier. And then it seems, I wasted a lot of time creating patterns from scratch. I’ve concluded, after this recent re-discovery of the built in patterns, and after playing with line weights and scales, etc, that the answer to my initial question, is to just put the time in experimenting with the different options until the drawings look as good as possible.

Section Cuts are just not cutting it with this design as the structure is comprised entirely of triangles and trapezoids at various angles. Section cuts are more confusing than useful for much of this design. But… those patterns you speak of can be applied just as easily to 2D details, as they can as Section Cut fills, with similar effect.

I’ve learned a few invaluable things lately, to help with the creating of clear & clean 2D details. Thanks for your comment.

Also, interesting discussion on the history of drawings and when colour should and shouldn’t be used. I’ve decided for this first project, to use colour is a simple and effective way to identify pattern and components within the structural elements. A few of my ‘issued for construction’ drawings will therefore be printed in colour.

Hi Michael,

I would be curious to hear what you have learned if you have a moment to share, and happy to trade notes. I’m a sole practitioner architect in the US in NY and have been going through what sounds like the same learning curve on the last couple of projects.

My first learning was that I can’t abide outputting section cuts to LO and applying hatches and lines in LO - not even for plans, let alone for details. I am not willing to give up the power of the information that section cut hatches add. Nor can I function from all-stock details - like it or not I rarely do exactly the same thing twice. Nor can I give up the power and clarity and unique-project-specificity of 2D drafting. All this puts me on a track that sounds quite similar to yours, and quite different than someone like Nick Sonder. Initially I tried Skalp, but I I’ve found it head-spinningly difficult to manage (especially when it’s late and I’m tired) and basically without support, so my second learning has been to gravitate back to what it sounds like you and most folks are doing - making section cuts, modifying them in SU into 2D drawings, and painting them with materials. So far I don’t mind having cuts in the main model and managing the additional sceenes and styles in SU, but so far I don’t have a simple/quick/good solution for multiple 2D lineweights, and moving information back and forth to the site model is a fudge/workaround. I still dislike raster hatches in the PDF’s and still struggle to keep PDF file size down, but I am getting used to them. One positive with Skalp is that it looks promising just as a hatch-generation tool.

Hello Ryan… thanks for reaching out. I am always more than happy to share my experiences and learning process, although I am still struggling with finding the best approach myself. I had originally thought that there would be only one ‘proper’ way to use SU and LO. Perhaps it’s just a matter of putting enough time in to figure out what works best, all things considered. Sometimes, I did things a particular way simply because I had yet to learn a better way. For instance, when drawing 2D details in SU, I would Google the standard architectural patterns and then recreate them manually. After being reminded (in this thread) that SU had built in patterns just for this purpose, I changed my approach. For the last couple of details I would find the pattern in SU to represent a given material, then I would decide whether it was worth the effort to redraw it. I do not like seeing repeating patterns for things like concrete or native soil or wood, which look better as random patterns in my opinion. It takes a lot more time to do this, but for me the effect is worth it.

I only recently learned about stacking viewports in LO as a means of representing different line weights. I would have benefited from a course that taught efficient workflow, but typically when learning new things I will just blunder along as best as possible, watching YouTube videos when I need to figure out some specific technique. I know what you mean about the raster hatches in PDF’s. Another useful thing I learned early in this thread, is the display resolution in LO.

One little tidbit of knowledge at a time may not be the fastest way to skin a fish, but it has worked well enough for me. Today, I just learned about SKALP for SU. Thanks for that bit of information. I may try it for my next project.