Items hidden in 2D geometry


I’ve struggled with this issue regularly since my introduction to Sketchup 2 years ago. My model is a 2D patio with deck and firepit. My issue is how to layer objects so they don’t get hidden. I have a few workarounds, but I am assuming there is a stupidly simple way to organize my model so this doesn’t happen.

See the firepit? It is round, white and has a gravel pattern in the middle of it with four segments that make it look a bit like a life preserver on a boat. Now, if you look in the middle of the patio, there is a copy of the firepit and it is “hidden” by the patio. Is there a way to “bring it forward?”

In the past I have raised the object off the flat plane .5" or I cut out the object beneath. These workarounds create problems and I am hoping there is something fundamental in Sketchup I have missed. Thanks guys.

lee_patioD1_1.2.19.skp (207.8 KB)



Since SketchUp is a 3D modeling application, you need to think in 3D. Moving the firepit above the patio would be one way to prevent the face of the patio from hiding it. Alternatively, you could draw the firepit as part of the patio surface like you’ve done for what I presume is the wall beyond the fire pit or cut a hole in the patio face.

What problem does putting the firepit above the patio create for you? In a 2D plan view of the patio, the height difference won’t be shown.

A side note: you are not using Layers correctly in your model. You should read the help article on Layers.



Try to group them first and assign to a layer.



Thanks for the quick response, @DaveR. Yeah, I figured I wasn’t using them correctly. I will review the help.

I typically present to customers in 2D initially and then build out the design in 3D if the size and scope warrants it or the customer requests it so some of my designs never go beyond 2D. The issue is that the design changes and I don’t like building into the design an element that may move later. I typically group the individual elements so they are easier to grab and change.

The problem that is created with elevating the grouped object is that when I am working around it for lets say a brick border around it the lines connect to the elevated object and throw off the geometry. It makes a mess of it when I start building in 3D. Thanks for your help!



If you use layers correctly, you can turn off the visibility of layers for things like the fire pit so that your added geometry doesn’t try to connect to it.

I get the idea of doing a 2D drawing first but if you are doing that in SketchUp, you might just as well draw the fire like the other lines you’ve used to outline parts of the patio. Then, when you have the design ready to go to 3D, you can use the 2D drawing as a reference.



@mihai.s Thanks! I appreciate the visual.



@DaveR I haven’t quite gotten the hang of layers yet… I’m coming from an Adobe suite background and layers could be stacked so that the top layer had it’s objects on top of everything else in the drawing. Sketchup uses them a bit differently. I will read up on that.

Thanks, that makes sense. I appreciate it!



Layers are just on and off. (and only visually)
Sketchup is 3d so you need to move things in 3d to make them ‘in front of’ things.
Layout has 2d layering.



As Box said, layers are just on/off. They are only used to control visibility. As for what shows in front of what, you need to think more in terms of real life.



The concept of “stacking layers” makes intuitive sense in 2D because the camera can only pan and zoom, it cannot orbit. The drawing is inherently flat, infinitely thin, and you can only look at it straight on, so the mental model of a stack of objects one atop the other makes intuitive sense. The third dimension (to and from the camera) is unused in the drawing itself, hence available as a conceptual means of envisioning overlapping drawings that modify each other. In apps such as Photoshop, the idea of successive layers modifying the view of contents “below” them offers a lot of processing power.

But in 3D you can orbit to view the model from any direction. The notion of “on top” or “in front” varies depending on where you place the camera. Even if there was a mechanism of precedence so that some identified object was set to obscure others at the same distance from the camera, what would happen if you orbited around to look from the some other direction?

The unfortunate fact is that early in the development of SketchUp, the designers chose the name “Layer” for what is really just a visibility (and color) switch that can be shared by multiple objects. It has nothing to do with one object obscuring or modifying another and does not gather them together in any other sense.



Thanks for all the responses… I have spent a few hours this morning watching workflow tutorials for architectural drawings… They made layers make a lot more sense. I am seeing the value of relentless grouping of my objects as well for organizing my work. I definitely understand that the power of Sketchup is in 3D, that is why I began using the software in the first place. Once my skills have developed enough I will be able to play there more. For my purposes, 2D needs a place in my work as well.

Your responses have helped me clear things up and I greatly appreciate it. Thanks!