How big is too big? How many layers are too many?


I do have the latest version of sketchup, running on Win10 Pro, 64 Bit, 16GB RAM, Intel iCore 7 5820, EVGA GTX 980 SC, Samsung 850 Pro SSD

I am not hurting for rendering or computing power, but I do have a 96MB file, with 64 layers. I am trying to add shadows to this. It has been sitting for 4 hours trying to do this, going in and out of not responding. The RAM usage on Sketchup has gone from 800 MB to 9.5GB and back down to 2GB.

My questions is, are there just too many layers? Should this be designed differently, or have I reached the limit of what Sketchup can do?

I ask this not trying to bash or complain about the program, I would just like to know if I am putting too much into this file.
Thanks in advance!

How to minimize skp file size from 50 mb to 5mb

The problem is more likely to be due to too much geometry or too many large textures than to too many layers. Shadows are an expensive computation in SketchUp, more like rendering than the usual drawing. But there is no hard and fast answer to your question other than the unhelpful “if performance goes in the bucket, your model is too large/complex for your computer”.


My response may not offer a definitive answer to your question, but it may offer a modicum of help. Some of my project models were becoming very large too. I have employed a few ways to address the size issue in addition to purging and efficient use of layers. My approach involves judicious scene management and requires some forethought on how you will organize your model.

Develop several copies of the master model. Be aware that you don’t need to include elements that cannot be seen - for example, interior furnishings, equipment, countertops, cabinets, etc. are not essential to models when they are viewed from the outside, so I remove these elements in this situation. Place the external elements in scenes on one model. On another model place the internal scenes. Use groups to organize significant features of the models and only include those groups on the models where they are displayed in scenes. If a group is not associated with scenes in a particular submodel, then delete it.

Also turn shadows off except for specific presentation scenes that are to be rendered. Many views need not be extensively detailed with shadows, textures and colors.

I have had files that approached 100 mb, but when I discovered how to really save space using repetitive components, the typical file size has been significantly reduced, Now a large file for me is rarely larger than 50 mb and I attribute that to using low poly count components and only modeling an element that occurs more than once just one time.

I also recommend turning off layers whenever possible to conserve computing power. This requires some consideration about when you can effectively do that and about what goes on which layers. Without seeing your model, i suspect that the number of layers could be reduced.

Finally in concert with the purge command, use the “CleanUp” plugin if you don’t already have it installed.


Thank you both for your input, I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions!


Be sure to click on the word “CleanUp” in my previous post if you want the plug in that was mentioned.


A Layer in SU is merely an attribute assigned to certain entities to control visibility, nothing more.
Creating layers will neither bloat the file nor degrade performance.
On the contrary, toggling visibility via Layers is a typical means of enhancing model performance.

On the other hand, improper use of SU’s layer system will eventually lead to modeling mayhem.
Be certain your use of layers in SU aligns with recommended practice.
Does SketchUp Support Layers? — SketchUp Help

File size alone is a poor indicator of how well a model will perform.
Enlighten us; too much of what? In your view, what is driving down model performance?
If you’re at liberty to share the file via a file sharing service one of the Sages will be happy to take a look.

Modeling technique, organization and the active Style have a tremendous impact upon performance.
No amount of gee-whiz new hardware can ever compensate for poor technique.

Here’s a compendium of performance modeling techniques.
How do I make SketchUp Run Faster? — SketchUp Sage Site