How my LO plans went

Well, how shall I begin? This was my third go at using LO, I had given up the first 2 times, and simply printed the details drawn in SU and taped them to a blank sheet of drafting paper.

When I went to export my LO document as a PDF there was an old default sheet in the saved template, that was the top sheet. I ended up opening Adobe acrobat and deleting it. I guess I need to make a new template and delete the old.

In general, it was a good learning experience, I kept having a difficulty with scenes, they were not numbered in a numerical progression in SU, instead scene 1, scene, 5 scene 6, scene 2 etc. and would follow the same sequence in LO. When I would open a scene in LO, it would look fine or there would be a blank viewport, especially if I changed the scale, or changed something in the SU model.

Then I wished for a pan tool that worked inside the viewport to try and find the part of the model and center it in the view port, instead of moving the borders of the view port to move the part needed into view. I suppose what I should have done was erase the scene and redo it. Perhaps this came about from not saving each scene after going to camera and making it parallel projection.

When I would set the scale in the viewport, frequently the part of the model I wanted would move or vanish, sending on a wild goose chase to find it.

I really wish there were a good way to do a perspective in LO - it kept wanting me to make it parallel projection which looks weird. When I would change it to perspective, things would go haywire as the scene shifted drastically ( show things such as details I had drawn a short distance away from the model)

Simoncbevans correctly commented about my lack of layers. True - it was my first time trying to use them and I need to study up on how to use them in conjunction with components and groups which I have little practice with. It rapidly turned into a mess, not being able to get components on different layers, so I ceased to fool with them.

Similarly I had difficulty working with components, perhaps because they were not on their own layer, so I would try to work on a part but the part it was sitting on another component which prevented me from accessing the component - resulting in overlapping components.

So I need to study further and learn the relationship between the 3 concepts of groups, components and layers to use them efficiently.

So all in all it was a major step ahead for me. Thanks all


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Good job. Learning so much after a third try is pretty good.Despite lack of development in some areas, this is not a toy. It should take time to learn, and you are not under direct supervision (I gather). So some learning curve is expected. I’d say all the problems you noted are surmountable once you learn to use the program better.

On an aside, any view in SketchUp, Perspective or otherwise, can be sent to LayOut so saying “it kept wanting me to make it parallel projection” indicates you are having some unknown confusion.

SketchUp and LayOut have some things that should NOT be done but are pitfalls they somehow have built in the program. For example, don’t modify the viewport in LayOut by double-clicking. If you look at the “SketchUp Model” dialog in LayOut and it says the scene is “(modified)” it can cause trouble, unless you are experienced and know exactly why you modified it. Make the scene the way you want in SketchUp, then place it in LayOut to set scale , add notes, draw over. etc.

So, if I need to make a change in SU that will affect the scene - such as rotating the model or a part of it, I should refresh or erase and redo the scene.

That was frustrating to me when I opened a scene and 3/4 of the model was out of the viewport. I didn’t think to redo the scene in SU, but instead moved the borders etc. to re-center it, which was time consuming. Were there a pan tool that worked in the viewport it would have simplified things.

Or a tool that would let you fly the viewport around the SU model. That would be useful.


Yes I think the pan tool would be nice. I don’ t see this problem so much . Yes you update the scene in SketchUp. No need to delete a scene unless you’ve already created one you prefer.

What you are actually doing in LO when you adjust the window of the model is adjusting the frame of a 2d image. You wouldn’t want to orbit as you do in SketchUp.

This shouldn’t give you too much trouble in aligning scenes in LO:

  1. For this example, make sure under Preferences / Startup your template is set to “Prompt for Template” (Later you can save your own default template anytime you feel you have it set how you like it)
  2. Go to the scene in SketchUp that you like, an ortho view scene in parallel projection like your section. All of the section should be visible in the center of the scene.
  3. Save the SketchUp file and choose Send to Layout.
  4. When LO opens, choose a standard page template, for example, A3.
  5. Your scene should appear in a window mostly filling the page.
  6. Set your scale.
    Did the object of desire go somewhere out of the view? It should be centered in the view, either larger or smaller than you see in SketchUp.
    7.Make sure “Preserve scale on resize” is checked in the “SketchUp Model” dialog.
  7. Resize the window to fit the image you need in LO.
  8. You may copy this window and use for other similar scenes you’ve set up in SketchUp with same scale (for example you may have a set of details that you expect will be about the same size image in the final document, as commonly done in construction drawings).

( I am sorry the numbering is messed up above–it looks fine when I write it but the board changes it when it posts–can’t help it).

They are setting up some Basics videos for LayOut in the Learning Campus.

I agree re: the Pan tool - seems like a missing feature!
(also “Match view” would be good)

Do we get to see any of your final drawings?

There’s a SU extension (i forget the name sorry) that can place each Scene into a new LayOut file with the right view and scale.

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You would get a lot less frustrated if you invested in a book like Michael Brightman’s Sketchup for Architecture. It would take you through SU and LO step by step and make sure you avoid common errors like double clicking into a LO window. It would help explain how to use groups/components, layers, and scenes, amongst many other things. The book was a revelation to me when I decided to use SU/LO as my main CAD software.

SU is deceptively simple to the uninitiated. The fact that you can get drawing something almost without prior tuition is both its USP and its Achilles Heel. Getting proficient, as with anything, takes time. I am happy to admit that after several years of using the software almost daily, I am still learning. There are regular forum members here who I recognize as being way more proficient than I am.

When in LayOut, just double-click on the view, then Shift-scroll button = pan.

Not great advice. This results in modifying the scene and breaks the link with the original scene in the model. This will result in problems down the line. Better to create a scene that shows the part of the model that needs to be viewed in the viewport or drag the edges of the viewport to show that part of the model. Best practice is to avoid creating modified scenes in LayOut.

The OP didn’t seem to know about being able to dbl-click and pan w/in the model’s scene. He wasn’t asking for best practices, but, if you think people should just post best practices, I’ll keep that in mind from now on.

It doesn’t take much trolling through the LayOut category to find cases of users having problems because they have modified scenes in LayOut by by double clicking on the viewport and panning, zooming, or orbiting. I don’t see any reason to teach methods that will create more problems to someone who is already struggling with learning to use LayOut. Better they should learn proper techniques from the beginning. Please don’t let that stop you from posting your methods, though. There’s room for everyone.

It would be helpful if we had a button within LayOut that can update a scene and send that update back to the SketchUp model.

Unless you use the same SketchUp for more than one document. That could wreak havoc in other LayOut docs.

Ah yes I hadn’t thought of that. But an option could be handy in some cases if you’re aware of the implications.

All of this

could be easily avoided if you could just save scene ‘states’ in LayOut.(as well)

Use some modelling scenes in SketchUp (for model purposes or initial concept preso’s in LayOut)

Take it from there for further (con) documentation in LayOut.

The model stays the model, the way you would present it can be numerous.

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Yes! that’s the ultimate.
But then LayOut would logically require layer management, styles, 2d drafting tools, scheduling and linetypesl :wink:

Semantically, “Scenes” fits better for perspectives (camera views) for rendering etc and can stay within SU, whereas “Layouts” or “Sheets” are what we use when drafting/documenting a project and should be controlled in LO.


How it went today: I started off confident - I only had a few minor changes that the building plan checker wanted me to do. Some 6 hours later, my wife felt safe enough to re-enter our office. The cries of agony had subsided.

I could not figure out how to draw a free hand line around a footing to fill it in with a hatch for dirt - it kept erasing the footing I wanted to encircle - I finally gave up and drew it sketchup and updated LO. It was obviously trying to fill but I couldn’t get it to stop trying to fill what I didn’t want filled. Is there a way to turn that off - I tried everything I could click to turn that attribute off to no avail

When I did the update, somehow one of the scenes changed and the labels extended into a different view point, so I got to fix that, only to discover the original object in SO had lost the rebar layout, so back to SU to fix that.

I spent a bunch of time doing stuff, then wanted to add a PL (property line) symbol I had made to the scrap book, it somehow went wrong, and when I tried to back out of it, it closed LO and I lost all of my work. Apparently you need to make the symbols on a blank sheet, not part of your current plans, to save them. Unless I am mistaken, you can’t copy and paste them into an existing stock scrapbook.

So I had to redo all that work.

Additionally, the dimension tool wouldn’t stay parallel to the off axis property lines of the property, where I was measuring set backs. I never did fix that. It kept skewing a few degrees off parallel.

I feel I am improving, but the drawing tools have me flummoxed with the line tools wanting to erase stuff I had drawn. Clearly I need to learn more about that tool.

Moving a view port on a sheet, always ended up causing me to have to move or redo measurements, labels - there was no way to select that section of the plan and move it as a whole.

Sometimes the measurement tool would give the measurements from the model (6’10") and sometimes give the size of the paper (1 3/4" ) In that case, I would end up drawing the measurements with the line tool and typing them with the text tool, as a work around.

The drawing tools are irksome, in that I click the end of the line expecting it to pin, only to have the line drag after my mouse. Or having two sets of arrows meet point to point and suddenly merge into one line with no arrow points touching.

I still miss not having a tape measure tool, despite using the blue grid. I use it constantly when I draw in SU.

The other thing - when I drew some free hand lines - I would erase them, and redraw. However, some were still there but invisible and do things - when I selected the whole section they would appear, but if I hit the erase tool to delete them, they would re-disappear. So I would click the erase tool in the area, then re-select the area to see if I had successfully deleted them. I missed some so I had to redo those steps to get them all.

It was trying but finally I am ready to resubmit, after I redo the scope of work, which should only be a matter of editing the RTF file in MS word, and saving /updating it. Or so I hope.


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Despite my whining and bellyaching, I see the value of LO and will continue to learn how to use it on a better level of proficiency. So don’t let my negativity dissuade you from using the program. Thanks.



It seems to me that you haven’t gained a knowledge of how the Shape Style window works. There you can control whether there is FILL (this is a solid color that covers up stuff underneath it) created within a shape you’re drawing, whether there is a pattern such as BRICK, whether there is Stroke shown (a border). Here you also control the line thicknesses, the arrows used on the ends of lines (what arrow will be on each end; as they can be different). And many other things.
The key thing that I know is this: To set a default setting for any of this, select the tool, i.e. rectangle first, then make your settings, or the standard default will be re-set.
If I were you, I’d work with LO on a made up project that’s purely for practice.
Learning just how the different windows interact is very important or frustration will surely set in.
For example: The text size and font in your dimensions is set in the Text Style window. This to me makes little sense as it would be nice to be able to control dimension text in the Dimension Style window. But this is exactly the inverted thinking that lives in LO.
I can only say this: it will take a while (especially if you were an ACAD user like myself) to rethink pretty everything you do.





Of course there are exceptions to the draw everything in SU and notate in LO. It is possible to enhance your SU drawing (model image) by drawing over it in LO, adding patterns, colors, etc.

Bottom line:
You’ll need to understand the interaction intricacies within LayOut.
The Layers thing is this.
The layers determine what draws (covers up) over what. Higher on the Layers list has priority. Lower gets drawn over.
Also right click on an object covering over something else. Select “Arrange” and pick “send to back”, “bring forward” ,etc. to move items front to back relative to each other.
This can go on and on…

I am reading the books to try and improve my comprehension - the problem has been, I find myself need plans on a right now basis - so I wing it with stress creating problems. This last go round has been the best of my attempts.

I am used to the drawing conventions of SU and when LO behaves differently I get upset.

Part of my problem is that I am a general contractor, not a designer, so I haven’t invested the time I need to learn the program as well as I could. My bad I guess.

But where I had issues with LO dimensions was when it did weird things, like not follow the plot plan, or measure the sheet of paper, not the plan. Sometimes it was easier to dimension in SU because it would follow the existing lines, but LO being a sort of layer over the SU model, has no interface with it, and thus the errors, though I have no explanation for it measuring the paper - and this is 2 different dimensions within the same viewport.

I agree with your point about the need for scenes first, but I tend to make some scenes, which I think are sufficient, then as I draw the plans in LO I find I need additional views, so I return to SU to make additional scenes and then things start going haywire.