Layers in Layout inherited from SketchUp

Hi, Plenty of good discussion here. I too have been struggling with trying to find a way to get Layout to efficiently output construction documentation from Sketchup models. I have been frustrated that I can get great sketchup models of a project in the design process, and thats great, but not of use unless you can output the required 2D documents that a builder requires. I keep reverting back to vectorworks to output 2D, a double workflow. Layout could learn a lot from Vectorworks and let me draw the following comparison. Vectorworks can have a 3D model on model layers ( similar Sketchup ) which it presents plan, elevation, section views of on sheet layer viewports ( similar Layout ). Vectorworks does this all in one file. In Vectorworks on a sheet layer ( a view of a page ) you can double click on a viewport and then via the information palette, edit what layers ( or classes which are like layers ) are being shown in that viewport. You can turn layers on, off, or greyed ( what I wouldn’t do for the ability to grey a layer in layout ). The viewport then presents those layers within the viewport as instructed, regardless of what layers are turned on when viewing the whole page on the sheet layer. Thats a whole lot easier to do at that backend when you are laying out pages than to having to keep leaping back to sketchup, edit or generate a new scene, save that, save the sketchup model, go back to layout, update the referenced sketchup model, then update the viewport.

I will attempt top load images to show a Vectorworks sheet layer with a page full of various viewports. The page is the same ortho plan view viewport repeated with various layers turned off / on / greyed to generate Demolition Floor / Demolition Ceiling / New GA plan / New Floor Plan / New Ceiling Plan / New Lights and AC Plan / New Finishes Plan / New Furniture Plan. So yes, one could set and save each of those as a scene in sketchup, and leap back on forward to sketcup when you want to edit layer visibility in any way, or, you could just double click the viewport to open a dialogue box that allows you to turn off and on any sketchup layer to be displayed or not. Even better make that On / Off / Greyed.
Even better than that, do what vectorworks does and allow you to then set the pen preferences of each layer, ( line weight and colour ) within each viewport layer selected.
The Sketchup model shown on the page is a screen shot pasted into a vectorworks sheet layer. I’d rather not use vectorworks at all if i could get Layout to be a viable documentation output tool.

What would I like to do with the SU model from LO?

Nothing, I don’t see any benefit in a bilateral workflow and plenty off headaches. (I used parametric modelling in my previous career and spent more time tracking down broken relationships than modelling). What I would like to is control the visibility settings in LO. (Designnest has just posted a comparison with Vectorworks on this that is interesting)
Line weights and styles.
textures on/off/non/ monochrome/ X-ray
I would like to be able to open the layer structure of a scene I have imported into LO, see the list (even if its a biggy …see end note!) hopefully it would look the same as presented in SU and then alter the visibility effects/ styles of each layer individually.

Two things drive this for me:
I frequently want to create images that have elements with different styles and either have to stack or use Photoshop to achieve the effects I’m looking for
Importing a scene I have to choose raster/ hybrid or vector. If any scene has plants or highly detailed elements it has to be raster as the other options can take AGES to render in and then the pain is repeated eveytime I nudge/ resize/ update the scene or viewport. Switching to raster usually speeds things up enormously but at the expense of making the rest of the elements in the scene a bit poor.
I had imagined that controlling layers might offer options that would address this.
I realise I’m trying to offer a solution to my own problems/ wishes when I am in no way qualified or knowledgeable in how the software works.

Thinking about managing layers in SU, could there be a group function for layers so that similar elements on their own layers are bundled in parent folders rather than a single long lis?t

Great example. Nothing like actually understanding what we are talking about with visuals and already existing workflows.

How I would love Layout to be able to do these things too!!

Can you enlighten us a bit more on what a “greyed” layer is? I understand that it is visible yet faded away. Are you able to configure this faded away style, or is it a default style in Vectorworks that you cannot change? Can you have more than one “faded” style?

The things that drive you usually drive others too.

It’s obvious for me that raster isn’t good for many things, though very complex geometry presentations don’t cope with vector or hybrid, I cannot use raster for sharing projects with consultants, engineers, contractors or deliver them to the city hall.

Raster is very good for conceptual presentations so in my case I tend to not use it and I usually rather wait ages for Viewport regeneration.

Stacking viewports might solve some of the issues you (and I) have but the work we have to prepare in Sketchup is amazing and counter productive.

Layout viewport layer management could solve a lot of issues, as well as being able to have sketchup assign styles by object.

It seems a new feature could be added to the current discussion which is to allow Styles by Object to also define how that object will be rendered in a Layout viewport, so that an new kind of hybrid viewport could allow chosen objects to be rendered only in vector, others in vector and raster, and others only in raster.

That could both optimize speed, and create better presentations that blend raster and vector in a new way, but are more complex to setup.

In my opinion Pro users would get huge boosts in speed and productivity that way.

Style by Object in Sketchup could also allow us to create the same sort of presentations @designnest is creating, but we still needed to do them in Sketchup Scenes and not in Layout. So the workflow would still be similar to what we have now, but would allow great freedom and less stacking viewports.

@designnest @PHensey @DanRathbun @MikeWayzovski

I’ve opened a new request, following on this discussion, that might interest you guys:

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Most Cad programs have a layer greying function. It generally takes what would be a black line, and makes it a Grey line, and also removes any fill, or at least makes the fill more subdued. Essentially greying one layer and leaving another layer turned on as normal makes the non greyed layer stand out, and the greyed layer backed off and just there for reference. Greying is effectively like putting some semi opaque tracing paper over a drawing and then drawing pen on top.
I attach
a simple demolition plan with existing unaltered greyed and demolition not greyed and red.
Very easy to read, very clear.
a simple demolition plan with existing not greyed and demolition not greyed and red.
Less clear less easy to read.
Compare how clear it is in the example pic where by greying the existing layer it becomes very clear what the new works are.
Our services consultants always grey our architectural background drawings so their works are clear as in the Air Conditioning drawing attached.
When you think about it theres a good example of greying items already in sketchup.
When you look at a model its all rendered equally.
When you click into a group the rest of the sketchup model is greyed.

So if sketchup can already do greying in group editing, why cant we have greying in layout and greyiong as a layer option in sketchup for that matter. Each layer should have 3 potential states, on / off / greyed.

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I agree, the suggestion is not that doing anything in layout does anything to the sketchup model.
I see it this way.
Sketchup, is the 3D modelling environment, with tools and setups to manage making the model.
Layout is the presentation environment that one uses to convey on the page the 3D model.
All layout does really is show views with various layers turned on and off, and various sections turned on or off.

I can see that all the sections need be set back in the sketchup model, but why do all the layer mixes have to be set and embedded in a saved scene?

I attach an example QT screen capture from vectorworks showing viewport being sent to a sheet layer, and then that viewport replicated several times over the page turning on, off, greyed different layers to be presented within that viewport. Whats each viewport is showing is controlled within each viewport.
If layout could do that then it would be easy to drop an orthogonal plan view of a building into layout and then from there, set if its level 1, 2, or 3, floor plan, or ceiling plan, or furniture plan or workstation plan, or finishes plan. That would save the need to set everyone of those permutations as a scene in Sketchup. You only need one scene to mange all those plans, = orthographic plan. The rest is just layers turned on or off ( and greyed would be a great third option )

Beyond whats shown in the screen shot movie, I could also control the colour and lineweight of any layer from right there in the viewport editing window.

Forgot to answer this bit. You can set the degree of Greying as a preference, it could be 30%, 50% 75%, whatever. You can set any layer to be grey, which is a blanket greyness degree though a document. You can also set any object or line separately to have a certain strength of opacity from 100% to 1% which is another way of backing off the appearance of certain things. Greying is generally a layer wide attribute, opacity is generally an object or line attribute.

I have seen and understand that some people manage to get good documents from reasonably complex projects out of layout like Nick Sondas great looking drawings. But they really do a series or workarounds compensating for layouts inadequacy in doing the documents directly. Splitting your project into soi many files so you dont overload the Copy and pasting a section cut to lay over the top of stacked viewports might work but its not ideal. You go edit the model and your cut linework section doesn’t update. There should be more effective control of the viewports within layout that mean the outputs.

Before anyone does what I have had in the forum previously ( “If you think vectorworks is better why dont you go use vectorworks and stop suggesting changes to sketchup or layout” ), there are things to learn from other programs. I dont like 3D modelling in vectorworks, its way harder than sketchup. But its way better at getting out the 2D documents and every project is just 1 file, not 5 references model files and 8 referenced layout files. If layout could match it I’d switch 100% to Skechup and Layout for all documents. But at the moment I can design in sketchup, I am a huge sketchup fan, but I cant get a good output of documents on any sizeable project via layout without a world of painful workarounds and slow processing…

Sorry Loaded the wrong pic in previous post, greyed and non greyed pic attached, not sure if the Quictime movie loaded I put in a dropbox link and it doesnt show on my screen.

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I just started another FR for global control of viewport rendering (with an opinion poll.)

Perhaps, switching off foliage layers would help. Ie, working in “draft mode”.

Expandable layer groups has been one of the oldest feature requests I can remember. It is talked about every year. Begged for etc. See the SketchUp FR category and you’ll find several topic threads on layer grouping.

P.S. - SketchUp layers are not geometric collections, so “similar elements on their own layers” does not really apply. Any element, in any geometric context, can be set to “have SketchUp’s renderer use” any layer’s properties for the element’s display behavior. (This can lead to wicked display weirdness and is why we say to always use Layer0 with geometric primitives.)

Some modelers call this “ghosting” or “ghosted” layers.
I’m not sure if AutoCAD would ghost frozen layers or not. (Been way too long.)

Thanks for the explanation. Their usefulness is clear and missed in layout

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In addition, the SketchUp Layers in Trimble Connect are called ‘Presentation Layers’ which obviously is a better representation of its true nature…

Wile Trimble Connect is ready for the way large CAD-programs have their models organised (Revit doesn’t use layers, Tekla uses types etc.) we still struggle in SketchUp with the ancient concept of layers dating from the plotter-days…

I am not arguing that it still can be useful (I can draw a few lines to represent a span and sent it to the engineer to calculate what size of beam I would need. The lines or edges can even be assigned to different layers for representation in a Color by Layer style) but in order to be meaningful, we need some more advanced attributes.

Even so, Layers are there and so is Layout which is something like CAD’s paperspace. Controlling what you see in Layout depends on Layers and it seems it will remain like that for long, even if other things like Tags or labels will come too.

So, manipulating Sketchup Layers from Layout and being able to export that to CAD, has it’s been showed here, is a very valid feature request.

Layout has layers, you can use them for what you can draw in layout and that will always be simple things. What matters the most from layers is to be able to control the organization/display of complex objects. The most complex object in a Layout page is the Sketchup model and that, as it is right now, is being summed up as a single layer, without any control except the one you have in the creation of scenes in Sketchup.

The ability to have this control within Layout would be a game changer.

I have not been suggesting we manipulate sketchup layers from layout as in physically interact or modify the model in any way, and I dont think you mean that either. I’d describe it as being able to control the sketchup layer visibility only from within each viewport. Achievable features on top of that would be an option to grey layers, an option to control the lineweight of by layer, the option to control line colour by layer, and maybe an option to control rendering mode by layer.

Good to see so many making useful suggestions to improve layout. It fine to have a great model, but of little use to architects if you cant get that represented on paper to issue to builders to tender and build from.

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Anyone know how do you load a 80.1MB screenshot movie to this thread?

You don’t as such; load it to a sharing site and post a link here.

You’re right it’s not manipulating as in affecting model directly. It’s manipulating of/how we see SketchUp layers in Layout.


You’re meaning as overrides for LayOut only?
When you open the model back in SketchUp everything is as it was without the “in LayOut tweakings”?


Yes, that’s what I mean. The bidirectional interaction adds a level of complexity that I don’t know if it’s welcome.

I just need a simple visibility toggle for Sketchup Layers and that they get exported to CAD.

It would be cool that we could style layers too, but that wouldn’t be the highest priority.

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You can do this in layout by stacking viewports.

But having to use stacking viewports is exactly what we are trying to avoid with this and other feature requests.

Maybe we’ll never be able to avoid it always, but if we could avoid it most times it would be great.

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