I like to build really complex models - Spacestations, Neighborhoods, etc - What would I need for Sketchup to handle it with zero lag?

I have been using sketchup for architectural animation work. I do architectural stuff like shopping centers, neighborhood developments, commercial centers, ect, but also do projects like space stations, and sculptural stuff.

In order for it to look as real as possible I have to have LOTS of detail. Landscaping, 3D tree’s, cars, light posts, fire hydrants, ect.

My first question is, can Sketchup as a program even handle detail like that? If you build a beast of a computer will sketchup “keep up” so to speak?

And if so, in general terms what does a set-up like that look like? Right now my set up is:

16gb RAM
Intel i7-6700k CPU @ 4.00GHz
GeForce GTX 970 Video Card

At the moment my computer struggles to finish projects. The bigger they get Sketchup just grinds to a halt. When I have everything in one model it might take 3-5 seconds just to enter a group. If you have a group, within a group, within a group, you can see the problem.

SketchUp can totally handle that kind of detail…but you have to manage it specifically to do so. Take vegetation for example, since high quality plant material is so polygon heavy, it really doesn’t matter how fast your machine is as you’ll hit SketchUp’s limits pretty quick. In order to ‘manage’ highly detailed components and models, you have to try to separate the high-poly aspects of your site from your actual model…ie. proxies. Do you have experience working with proxies? Skatter is an extension that can distribute large amounts of components across a site but store the component’s location only as a reference to load the whole high-res component only at render time. Of course you’d need a rendering plugin that reads proxies like Enscape or VRAY to name a couple.
Proxies and really diligent layer, scene and style organization is essential which I’m sure you already know not being new to SketchUp. I can provide some examples of high-poly models or proxy examples if you think that would help.

Wow absolutely. I would love to see something like that. This sounds very interesting and is exactly the kind of thing I am looking for. I need to learn more about this.

Ok, for example, here is a project that required minimal use of proxies for trees, shrubs and people in order to get a pretty high-quality result.

Model Stats:
File size - 622 mb.
Layers - 15
Polygons - 10,400,000+ edges & faces
Rendering Extension - VRAY 3.6
Platform / Machine - MacBook Pro 3.1 GHz Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM, Intel HD Graphics 630 1536 MB
Lag Time - zero… by managing which parts of the model show at different times using scenes+layers.

Layers+ model geometry

Layers and scene management to eliminate lag

Proxy objects highlit in blue…trees, shrubs, and the lady nearest the camera

Final result - day shot

Final result - dusk shot

Actual drawing size enlargement


even with the fastest CPU (btw, currently the intel i7-9900K) you won’t get real-time modeling, better adhere to the good habits of performance optimized modeling techniques in SketchUp:

• SketchUp Help Center: Improving Performance

in short:

  • use components for repetitive objects
  • switch of eye candy (fog, shadow, x-ray etc.) during modeling
  • hide stuff currently not needed
  • don’t be far away from the model room origin which may happen after e.g. a DXF/DWG import (see import options to avoid)
  • purge model from time to time to get rid of unused resources (“Window > Model Info > Statistics > Entire Model > Purge Unused”)
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LOVE the “dusk” shot and art-deco for the win! Great job!

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As well as using best practices for SU models, check out a few high end builders:

BOXX - SketchUp systems

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Thanks @SeanB!