Have I reached the limits of Sketchup?

I am currently using Sketchup to design my new home. The architect did the floor plans, side views, sections etc (with a lot of my input) but I am doing the 3D myself, and also basically most of the interior and landscape design.

I want to make my model accurate and detailed, both interior and exterior. So I am basically adding everything to it, every light fixture, every switch, every outlet, every plant… you get the idea. Also, I want to generate realistic renderings out of it (using Enscape mostly).

Now my problem is that my Sketchup model is nearing 400mb (and that is without the numerous proxies for everything that is more than a few megabytes) and is getting slow. For example I might double click on a component to enter inside it, and then I have to wait several seconds for the component to be opened while I see the Outliner flashing. My PC is a decent desktop with an i7, RTX 2070 and 16GB RAM.

I purge often, I keep certain things (e.g. plants) in separate layers which I turn off when not needed, shadows are off, and I try not to have unnecessarily large textures or too many edges.

Still, textures need to be large enough for the renders to look good. The same with the number of edges, a low poly plant will not look nice when viewed from a relatively close distance. I sometimes download models in FBX and I use transmutr to convert them to enscape proxies, but the skp files generated are many times bigger than the equivalent fbx file, something which slows things down further.

So now I wonder: Have I reached the limits of Sketchup? Is perhaps Sketchup not the right tool for this level of detail and I should now move to something else?

You are probably getting close, given the level of detail you are trying to model. Are you perhaps overdoing that? If you want that level of detail in particular rooms, you could consider making them into a component, R-click Save As… and work on that level of detail only in a separate submodel.

You are already using proxies, which helps, but you are I think from my limited experience approaching the limits of what SU can cope with, in so detailed a model, if it is all contained in just one model

Break it up, even if only into a few parts, and it should get quite manageable again.

I’ve been working as a collaborator with @NewThinking2 on a very large model, about twice the file size of yours, and with a lot of detail for a very large building.

A part of the model, weighing in at around 300MB and with 27million edges and half a million component instances is quite workable on my machine, but I struggle with the full model. Unless lots of layers/tags are turned off, it is very sluggish to orbit around. I can handle the sub model quite well.

PS. What processor does your machine use?

And would you consider paying for 2020 Pro? Performance is said to be considerably enhanced.

Just seen this response from @bifterx - we noticed that too. Especially when loading the file. Can make a factor of ten difference in load time, but also a big difference in responsiveness while modelling.

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No you are not reaching the limits of SU. Close the outliner and component window. that will make a big response difference.
I run large models, some up to a Gb in size (mainly textures for Vray etc), SU still runs absolutely fine as long as your modelling is efficient, use of layers, components and groups are well managed and which Style you are using will have dramatic effects.


True. but SU will still struggle if the file size is mostly driven by the edge count, not the texture sizes.

Ha ha, the good old days - when the model was only 300mb. It is now 700mb. A lot of that came from Placemaker putting in surrounding buildings in downtown NYC. I can’t separate out the rooms because every floor is different in this tapering, curving arch building…or maybe I just don’t want to. :slight_smile: :wink:

Purely out of interest John, do you see much performance difference between 2019.3 and 2020?
I’ve resisted the move as I have seen some reports of some issues (including with Layout & my Layout drawings tend to be heavy) & I use a Space Navigator which I don’t want to lose. (I know its a bit OT)

Thanks for you suggestions!

Keeping the outliner closed does make a quite significant difference when entering and exiting components and even more so when switching to different scenes that show/hide different parts of the model.

I also found out that keeping the materials panel closed can make opening the file a LOT faster. It used to take minutes to open the file, but if I remember to keep the materials panel closed the file can now open in some seconds. (this seems like a Sketchup bug that affects only certain computers for an unknown reason. I don’t know if it is fixed in newer versions)

So at this point my model runs quite fine in Sketchup alone.

The remaining problem seems to be mostly with Enscape now. Enscape needs to bring in all those proxies, so it takes a lot of time to run (5-6 minutes). And when Enscape is open it seems to eat up my resources (especially my 16GB of RAM) so Sketchup runs slower when Enscape is open (particularly when changing scenes to show/hide things), even if I have the Live Updates of Enscape off.

I tried Thea and Vray, which are not real time, but I think they used less RAM and their proxies seem to be a lot more efficient.

I’ve never made a comparative test. Perhaps, subjectively, 2020 is a little faster. But I’ve done almost no work on Scott’s huge building in 2020, and not yet tried to re-open even the 300MB model in both 2019 and 2020. Might try that later today or tomorrow.

I have a basic wireless SpaceMouse, a year or so old. I just copied the files over from 2019, but I think 3D Connexion have updated drivers now. There are recent posts somewhere on the forum for issues with Mac drivers in particular.

I have very limited experience in Layout. Scott (@NewThinking2) has done a lot with his huge model in Layout and may be able to comment on that.

And even more limited experience with any renderer.

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I’ll defer to the experience of others with regards to really large models (my biggest ones are still under 100 MB), but I did want to bring one useful tool for complex models to your attention: the EditInPlace extension:


This allows you to open up an in-model component in a separate window for editing. I find it has three main benefits:

  1. There is virtually no lag in entering the editing context
  2. It’s much easier in a complex model to isolate and edit an individual component: the layers (tags!), materials and outliner panels shrink down to only those used in the component which makes it far simpler to identify needed edits/purges.
  3. Editing/updating components requires fewer total clicks and is less disruptive to workflow than opening, editing and re-loading individual components.

This extension works especially well in a workflow that breaks up the main model into sub-models — with all of the modelling/editing work done on the sub-models — then assembled in the master model (as John M has described above).

The EditInPlace extension enables and accelerates such an approach, in the simplest manner possible. Doesn’t help with your Enscape issues, but could help in streamlining your SU workflow.

@NewThinking2 Scott, did you see the above post about Edit in place plugin? Worth trying?

I’ve actually been doing this manually for years - sort of. Yesterday was a good example. Somehow - and AGAIN - part of a component was lost. This time the very top part of the top inner shell where it protrudes a single window towards arch center. I had to close the most recent model, open up ver. 3.0, copy out the complete shells from there into a new model space, save that, close ver. 3.0, then reopen ver. 4.1, and replace the shells in that (paste in place comes in very handy here). I can’t open two copies of the full model without crashing SU now.
The plugin wouldn’t help with this because it can’t reach back to an old version etc.
I find if I can zoom down to the level of the small component, the model is fairly zippy. As you know, if there’s a lot of work to be done on a component, it’s better to copy it to another workspace and fix it there, then copy it back.
I found I had to do this yesterday too, to create and then add the custom floor numbers to the short-hop elevators running from level 1 to level 4 (plaza).