How to model efficiently?

I’ve been using SketchUp for several years now. Only recently have I become more disciplined, by striving to give each group/component a meaningful name and nesting them in a sensible substructure so I can better navigate and manage my model in the outliner.

Unfortunately, I only use the outliner so far, but no scenes and tags.

The reason for my newfound discipline is (unsurprisingly) that I’ve found out too many times now, that the more stuff is in a model, the more difficult it becomes to orient in the model. Whit to much messy stuff it becomes very inefficient or impossible to make progress, and hence it’s a very frustrating experience.

I iterate a lot on existing geometry - quickly copying things to the side, pasting things in place, grouping and subgrouping without giving names. I think that’s fine up to a point if there’s a round of cleanup after that.

So now my actual question. Do generally acknowledged frameworks “How to keep good order and model efficiently” exist? While this is somewhat individual and will also depend on the use of the model, there may be some good approaches to learn from.
Maybe someone wrote a good book, blogpost or forum thread on the subject matter?

I think some of the modelings efficiently depends on your industry?

I have not used the outliner, until recently and that is only to remove point cloud clips. I mostly use tags and tag folders to organize. I do landscape design, so all my plant layers (vertical image, plan view image, and 4 info layers) are placed in a hierarchy

first level second level third level
Line work (CAD import) --> Civil
--> Arch
Plant --> Image
--> Plan
--> Info--> Sun
--> Water
I have set up my groups and components with layers and moved them into those folders. I find this gives me a lot of control over what is showing.

I am still setting up my systems and procedures and know it will be a work in progress for a long time.
I hope this helps.

A couple of good books are The SketchUp Workflow for Architecture by Mike Brightman and SketchUp & LayOut for Architecture co-written by Nick Sonder and Matt Donley

Scenes and Tags are the solution to "orienting " your model.

The “View menu” enables a directional orientation or view of your model. Top, Front, Right etc. These are ortho directions.

The Scenes feature give the user the ability to return to an exact viewing position within the 3D space of the model. As an example, if you are a landscape designer you may want to often view the project from the street corner looking Northeast. Specifying such a scene gives you the ability to instantly chose that position and directional view.

If you use SU a lot, then I highly recommend making use of scenes, tags and the Outliner. Like you, in the early days, I was “lazy” and it was some time before I found out how useful Outliner could be.

Some very experienced users don’t use Groups at all, only Components. If you do that, you are prompted to name the Component when you create it. You can of course be “lazy” and let the system give it a generic name. But if you do, Outliner will be almost useless as you will never remember what Component 24 was!

Scenes are crucial when you come to exporting things to Layout. It is so much faster to export to LO and then select a preset scene than trying to see what you want in LO.

As for tags, they are also handy for organising what you want to see in a scene and many people set up templates with the same set of tags for use in every drawing.

I do small scale residential projects.

I’ve learned greatly from Sonder (+Matt) and Brightman and this forum, especially Dave.

I have a custom ruby script that combined with AutoHotKey enables me to quickly toggle tags on/off.

e.g. space+W toggles the wall tag, space+F the floor tag and so on for all of my commonly used tags.

I also have a custom script that allows me to use keyboard shortcuts to assign tags to groups / components.

So I stay in one scene while I’m modelling my nested groups using Curic’s DIO, Extend and Stretch as well as some other plugins toggling tags as I need.

I never touch the outliner.

I have preset scenes in the model file for elevations and floor plans that I never edit in.

For me that’s the biggest single advantage of using Components by a mile. I used to use Groups exclusively, and they were perfect for my needs, but as soon as I discovered Components prompt you for a name as soon as you create them I was sold.

I dread to think how many times I have done - Click Outliner, Right Click Group, type a new name, Click away.

Components are now my friend :grinning:

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You know you can just type a name in Entity Info.


Actually - no I didn’t.

So its back to Groups for me now :+1:

Make Named Group - Extension | SketchUp Extension Warehouse

@Box wrote: “You know you can just type a name in Entity Info”

Without doubt the best time saving tip I’ve received in ages - I use it dozens of times every day and I smile every time because it’s so obvious :grinning:

Ok, I have now realized that I can create different scenes with different components turned on/off. This is indeed very practical. I thought scenes are just about perspective and camera location.

With one swift click at a scene, I can jump back and forth between different sets of visible/hidden geometry + camera location + perspective and even more stuff. This improves modelling efficiency a lot because I don’t have to waste a lot of time and concentration by manually turning on and off stuff in the outliner each time I want to have a different configuration of visible geometry. Nice!

A scene can also be updated quickly after changing the visibility of a group/component in the outliner.

At least this is how I do it. I change the visibility of groups and components in the outliner and not with tags.

What I don’t understand is why are there even tags? What are tags able to do, that the outliner + scenes can’t? Isn’t the only feature of tags to be able to group different sets of groups/components so that they can be hidden/unhidden?

Aren’t scenes in combination with the outliner already perfectly able to group different sets of component – the same as tags but scenes have just more features?

I rarely hide components for scenes. I organize my drawing with tags and turn those on and off. Depends on what you are modelling perhaps–if you show “alternates” a lot. For me if the item is in the room, it belongs to a tag “furniture” “FFE”, “walls” . I made a scene the other day and one thing was in the way of the camera and I hid it. That’s the only scene in recent memory I’ve ever bothered to do that. My tags help in hiding parts of the drawing while working, or I may hide some interior items for exterior renders (for example). And, as it happens, I hardly use outliner, so there’s a difference in approach for you.

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many components/ groups can be set to the same Tag. Like furniture, then you can turn “furniture” on and off and have that saved to the scene. Furniture can be in different storeys that are inside their own groups called 1. floor and so on. Turning “furniture” off will then do that for all kinds of furniture that is set to that tag, across your whole model.

Yes, but I can also put all furniture in a group and name this group furniture. This group acts then as a tag/layer that I can turn on/off via the outiner.

I can put tags within tags within tags. I can put groups within groups within groups. The graphical interface of the outliner and tag panel is also very similar. The outliner has just more additional functionality. So I don’t really get why there is a need for tags in addition to groups and scenes.

Ok, with tags I can create different sets of visible/invisible geometry.
But I can also create different sets of visible/invisible geometry by creating several scenes.

So to me it seems I get all the functionality of tags with outliner+scenes and there is no additional benefit of using tags.

Yes, you can do the same thing. I agree completely. Tags are simply another layer of organization. I just modeled a kitchen reno. Each cabinet with all its subcomponent parts is a single component. If I want to turn off a single cabinet for a Scene, I turn it off in Outliner. If I want all cabinets turned off in a Scene that’s showing the base framing support, I turn the Tag called Cabinets off. Could I go to Outliner and make one giant component called Cabinets and turn them all off at once that way? Yes. Could I go to Outliner and turn each of them off individually? Yes. I chose, instead, to create a Tag named Cabinets. I find using Outliner and Tags in tandem to be very useful.

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If you have a tag sytem and scenes are setup, you ‘ll have a template ready for all projects. Just draw, then assign tag, scenes will work as a filter for visibility. This can’t be done with Outliner.

In LayOut, you can set linewidth for each tags, then save as a scrapbooks. Just match properties from this scrapbooks, linewidth will be apply to another Layout has same tag.

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