How many of you combine your favorite CAD software with Sketchup?

I’m thinking this subject has probably been kicked around pretty hard already - but I’ll kick it a bit more.

I’m just curious how many Sketchup users still rely on other CAD software used in conjunction with a sketchup model. I’m loving using SU as a design tool as well as presenting exterior representations to my clients. That said, I’m really NOT loving giving up the very robust nature of CAD (in my case, Vectorworks).

I suppose I am perhaps looking for encouragement to keep trying to make the SU/LayOut process work - but it is ripe with frustrations and a lack of granularity.

OR, I’m looking for advice from those who find a composite methodology strikes the right balance.

Any advice is appreciated in advance.


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I have been a CAD user since about 1990. I used Robocad for a number of years and eventually migrated to AutoCad LT. Later on, I used a clone of that. In the early 2000s I became aware of Sketchup and used that alongside AC, initially as a bit of a toy but also to help explain tricky details using its 3D capability. Then I started reading about people like Nick Sonder who managed to use Sketchup as his only CAD package. I have done the same since about 2015.

I imagine most people who migrate from what are essentially 2D drafting packages to SU do so in part because SU is so intuitive and in part to leave behind the frustrations of working with Autodesk products (aimed, I am told, at engineers, not architects). But of course there is always an element of “out of the frying pan into the fire”. SU has its own frustrations, such as a lack of true curves and the very severe limitations of Layout.

My experience has been that it is entirely possible to use Sketchup for everything and it makes life simpler overall if you do. But there has to be a point of commitment where you make the leap and leave your old life behind. Riding both horses just doubles the pain.

One thing to be aware of is that SU is very easy to use badly and using it to its full extent does involve a learning curve.


I was briefly in a couple of small architectural practices that used AutoCAD LT (circa. 2007) and prior to that as a builder I used AutoSketch.

When I left and set up on my own (circa 2008) I continued to use AutoCAD for a year or so but had already discovered SketchUp and I couldn’t afford to carry on with AutoCAD. Fortunately for me Google brought out Layout.

Never used a DWG program since.

But I’m a one person operation and the type of small scale domestic projects I do, the DWG/DXF export capabilities of SketchUp/Layout are sufficient for collaboration with others.

( and I’m on Windows :wink: )


I’m an architect who has used AutoCAD since 1984 (version 1.7) and its architectural addons since 2000. Looking for a supplementary program to quickly create more “architect-y” looking images and drawings particularly for the design phases, I bought SU5 in 2006 from @last an hour or so into the, I think, 8 hour trial. Every time I use it I remember the joy I felt as I navigated smoothly around a model I had imported from AutoCAD and quickly applied materials, marveling at the shadows and transparencies and how SU automatically got the shingle textures oriented properly on sloped roof planes.

On the other hand, trying to hatch the walls of an SU floor plan view with different materials and shadings (brick, concrete, non-bearing frame wall, bearing frame wall, etc.) is, in comparison to even early AutoCAD versions, horrible. Paint wall bottoms or a SectionCutFace face with a raster hatch pattern? Buy an add-on? Don’t think so. I’m not going to fiddle around with Layout manual dimensions when I can click onto a wall object and have an associative multi-chain dimension pop into place that dimensions the wall as well as the locations of doors and windows in it.

There’s no way I could work without either of them. Each of them have tools I see no reason to do without. The fact that Layout exports PDFs (vector, hybrid and/or raster) and I can PDFATTACH them in AutoCAD/ACA means I can use the best features of both throughout a project.

Every programming language I know has both AND and OR logical operators. I can’t think of why the result of a AutoCad/Vectorworks/Revit OR SU/Layout comparison is inherently better than one of AutoCad/Vectorworks/Revit AND SU/Layout.


So it’s Google who was responsible for Layout? That might explain a lot!

While Google released the Beta for LayOut with version 6, prior to that, @last software released the bear:

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I love that Jack! It tells us that Layout is basically some 15 years old and shows that it has certainly started living up to its original name. Layout has indeed become rather grizzly!

But SketchUp is even older Simon :wink:

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I use SketchUp for everything – concept model, structural models, and then documents with SU Layout. I don’t have any firsthand experience with other software – fully committed to the SU way of life :slight_smile:

My architect partner is more comfortable with Revit, but uses SketchUp more and more. Most firms that she has worked with seem to use big BIM software like Revit, with SketchUp being used for specialized purposes such as concepts, rendering, material & light studies. And big firms using big software are slow to change.

Vectorworks seems to be gaining popularity in the market of individuals / small firms / education

Since I have Make, I don’t have the opportunity to use Layout, so I resort to my old standby DesignCAD which I have used since ~1985, they went 3D in 2000 and I used it for a while but settled for the 2D version which I use in place of Layout some times.

I’m a long time Vectorworks user and short time SketchUp user. I’m now using SketchUp for design, client presentations, and planning applications for residential jobs, and would love to be able to be go the full distance in to doing my working drawings on SketchUp & Layout, but for the time being I’m exporting things back in to Vectorworks.
I’m trying to get my head properly around using ConDoc Tools to produce drawings, but it’s taking some doing to get in to their modelling workflow habit to make it work.

I work in an Architect’s office where we all use Autocad on a day-to-day basis. I have never gotten around to learn Layout properly at all despite learning and using Sketchup on a daily basis for some years now (since Atlast brought out version 4!). I have developed a workflow that works for me and the other office users. I have focused on methods that make joining up autocad with sketchup as smooth as possible and have found Skalp to do this very well, once the workings have been understood.

It goes: Autocad plans and sections for GA’s. Then into SKP to work up a model be it simple planning, or detailed construction level info. I have then spent some time mapping and linking line-weights, line colours and hatch patterns fills and colours between the two using the plugin Skalp, which I have seen improve over the last couple of years of its development. I can now export a set of 2D sections from skp including plans and sections, open them in an intermediatory cad file to adopt the pre-saved line colours mapped to specific layers from the skp model, and then x-ref this in as a block that is ready to present bar some annotation and dimensioning as required. I then use cad from here on out for presentation. Any revisions have to be done back at the sketchup model stage, and this transfer process is repeated (which I know is the down side as it takes an hour or so to batch create a new set of blocks). This particular method enables the office as a whole to collaborate on work even if they have no knowledge of the skp side of it. Even writing this out makes me think I’m crazy to procure work in this way, but it does work in practice! It gives peace of mind to the other designers that the 2D information is absolutely correct as it has originated form a 3D environment. I know that Layout was created to do just this! But I have tried it on occasion over the years and still have not jumped in with both feet. I am 37 and feel like I am well on my way to becoming an ‘old dog’ in the office with the rest of the autocad lifers! I have seen what Nick Sonder has done and like to think that I could adopt it wholeheartedly and would have if I was a sole trader in control of it 100%. The method I have arrived at, is born out of necessity to collaborate with even older dogs than me that need to work in autocad. Interestingly a number of those staff use Sketchup. It is less about how much they do or do not know about the programme, but more about how well (or not) they use what they do know, and their varying levels of what I will call ‘sloppiness’ that causes them the headaches we are all familiar with!


Yes and at the time I extolled Google to grasp the bull by the horns and develop it into an Autocad killer… sigh it never happened despite their massive resources

My CAD is SketchUp…

I have software to deal with DWG files before imports and after exports from and into SketchUp.

What software is that?

I do combine SU with other CAD programs.
The main reason is that I am lighting designer and exact lighting calcultions can not be made in SU.
SU is the pre- and post processor in my workflow.
The structural model of the lighting model is created is SU.
In 99% of the cases the architectual model is too complex for any lighting design program. This simplified model is imported into the lighting design software.
After the actual lighting design is made the luminaire’s 3D represantion is imported into SU.

Anyway Layout was always a misery for me.

I use Sketchup for almost everything but I do like to use PowerCadd (Mac only 2D CAD) for some stuff because it’s like a Swiss army knife of features I doubt anyone could duplicate with any other software for the price. Unfortunately it’s being re-written to run on OSX past 10.14 and won’t be ready for maybe another year so I have to keep an older Mac Mini running for now.


NanoCAD - When I need to select and delete multiple similar entities (Invisible lines from Area Auto Text Labels that are visible in Layout)

DoubleCAD XT - To explode DWG text and import it into Sketchup

LibreCAD - Because it’s OpenSource and cool and allows multiple CAD versions to be converted.

PS: I used to work professionally with AutoCAD exclusivelly and use to make fun of people that used Sketchup for actual architectural work… then I’ve seen the light! (It was actually Layout that opened the door. Without it’s 2D output, I would be using Revit by now.)

Interesting. I wonder if it says something that you need all that software to do one job (architectural drafting, that is). Wouldn’t it be great if it was all possible in just one.

I don’t do architectural drafting on them at all. I do it in SketchUp, of course. I just use them to convert and clean up files.

As you also see the things I want from them are really minor. If SU and LO had better dwg importers and exporters I wouldn’t need them at all.