Hide vs Soften

Hey folks, can anyone tell me whats the difference is between a hidden line and a softened lined?

And is there a one click solution for creating a hashed line or a dotted line?

And there’s a ClineTool.rb plugin that can create finite dashed lines (by default, on their own layer/tag ClineTool) with or without guide points at the ends of the dashed line.


In addition to what Dave had to offer, when you soften an edge/line that defines two services, SketchUp treats those joining surfaces as one. This is ideal when wanting to apply textures onto curving or undulating surfaces… like terrain models or cylinders, etc. When you hide an edge, the joining surfaces are still seen as individual surfaces.

I hope this helps.


@DaveR Can you confirm that the vertical edges in the middle prism in your image have been softened only, and not smoothed? Visually, the “soften” attribute simply causes SketchUp to not draw the edge (identical visual result to hiding the edges). It looks to me that the edges of the middle prism have been both softened and smoothed. The blending of shade across non-planar faces is driven by the smooth attribute (which is independent of whether the edges have been softened).

OK, that’s what I thought. The Original Poster asked about the effect of soften, so I was confused (and perhaps so was the OP) that the effect of smooth was also applied.

I wrote this somewhere recently, but can’t find that post. So here again:

There are three independent true/false properties that control how SketchUp manages an edge:

  • “hidden” means that the hidden property is set true on an edge. When this is so, SketchUp skips displaying that edge unless View->Hidden Geometry is also true, in which case it displays as a dotted line. A hidden edge is also excluded from selection unless View->Hidden Geometry is true.
  • “soft” set true means that if two faces share that edge, they are considered to be portions of a single surface. That is, you can select and move that surface as a single unit. This behavior seems somewhat like a group, but does not actually create a container. Unless View->Hidden Geometry is set true, soft edges are not displayed. But this behavior is independent of whether the hidden property is true. Unless View->Hidden Geometry is set true, you can only select the entire surface; you cannot select its individual faces or the edges that join them, though you can select the edges that border the surface, which are not shared with an adjacent face…
  • “smooth” set true means that if two faces share that edge, SketchUp blends their shading across the edge to create the visual impression of a smooth surface. In contrast, for either hidden or soft, the shading of the faces is independent and there is a visual dihedral at the edge. Strange as it may seem, smooth does not imply un-displayed and does not imply soft.

A surface whose edges are soft but not smooth is displayed as faceted. Shading of each face is independent.

Faces adjacent to a smooth but not soft edge will have their shading blended even though the edge between them is visible (unless hidden). However, this is not commonly done, as the visual effect is somewhat strange.

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