Everything Was Going Jussssst Right, too

Everything looked good in SU Pro 2019. Four structures on Four Lots…side by side.

using an existing topographic map of each lot, I was able to PULL each highlighted polygon to the proper contour level to show a “stair step” type of topographic map. Using the set backs, I drew another polygon on a different layer that sat just right on the bottom layer with the let back lines of the base plat. Perfect.

Pulled the “set back” polygon up to the desired height and then “painted” each one a different color…and then changed the OPACITY to about 20% so that the topography contour lines showed. Inserted the desired structure at the right location on each plat. Voila! Perfect set of files that showed the difference between layers of items…topographic lines; base drawing; structure to build and the nice near-clear “set back” polygon that showed everything in side within the boundaries.

Exported each to PDF.

Getting ready to send out to the client and just happened to open some of the drawings with the low opacity ‘set back’ polygon and dang it…each of the .pdf drawings with the “set back” polygon are unusable as the export to .pdf made them solid again…obscuring the structures and topography within. Obviously…something in the export to PDF didn’t perform as I was expecting due to pilot error…somewhere.

It’s almost 3pm but I’m ready to have a glass of wine.


What did I miss? Any and all suggestions or thoughts on the topic are gratefully appreciated.

Are you exporting the PDF out of SketchUp? There have been other reports of transparent faces not exporting as transparent in PDFs. Why not use LayOut, though? It will export PDFs with the transparent faces.

Not really related to your current issue but this statement raised red flags. You are keeping Layer 0 active at all times and you are keeping all edges and faces on Layer 0, right? You’re only assigning groups and components to other layers, correct?

Yes, that is how pdf export files are from SketchUp. LO pdf files or SU bitmap files will show transparent materials though.

Hmmmm…I can see that I missed that particular SketchUp Class 101 one day.<G

I had a duress application for this particular client so I’ve been learning…the hard way. I recall a tutorial session that said exactly that…“Keep Layer 0 active” which I have not. Times four jobs.

I was having my issues just assigning Layers to various phases of construction. I’ll re-review the topic on the principal Layer 0. I’ve had SketchUp for a few years now…mostly for producing symbols and the SketchUp Warehouse to export into other CAD programs. This job was topographically sensitive and SketchUp produced exactly what I hoped to share to the client.

I’ll open up Layout and see what i can do to salvage my work today.

I did try a .bmp to see the results…it’s a possibility, but not as clean as a .pdf drawing.

Thanks Dave and pbacot!!

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Depending on the subject and what you want to have it look like: I sometimes export .png at higher resolution. The lines get smoother (and thinner). Being on a Mac I also PRINT to pdf from both SketchUp and LayOut, which also preserves the SketchUp transparency and material textures.

I’ve been watching…and gritting my teeth…about Layout the the “rule No. One” about Making Layer 0 the active layer at all times.

I think I’ll try it again by exporting as a .png file to see what we’ve got and then over into a .pdf rather than pull my hair out dealing with Layers with a flawed SU drawing.

Anywho…one of those “won’t be making that mistake again” moments.

thanks for the good advice.

Dan Turner
Conyers, Ga

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Take a play with LayOut after you have taken care of business. While drawing on Layer0 is important, I don’t think it specifically hampers porting this file to LayOut. Mostly you want to have your Scenes set up (which is useful in any process). At a basic level those scenes become pictures in LO to arrange on the page as you like–but you do have to do some learning about the process.


I’ll get clear of my schedule on this job and then settle into the serious mode on SketchUp and Layout.

I truly appreciate all the good advice available here. Best regards!!

The PDF/EPS export in SketchUp creates a pure vector file meant primarily for postprocessing in drawing applications like Illustrator or Inkscape. Raster-based effects like shadows and transparency cannot be exported. The same happens with vector-rendered views in LayOut and if you print to a PDF printer using the Vector printing (Mac) or “Use high-accuracy HLR” (Windows) option.

My workaround is to put my glass and other transparent features on a separate layer and turn it off when exporting to PDF. In LayOut a semitransparent effect could be achieved by layering viewports with glass on and off.