MAC: Best practice to geolocate models and keep everything square in layout-

There must be a better way. What is best practice for geolocating your model? Typically, after starting my model at the origin square with Sketchup I use Geo-location, Add location. Then I place my model in the terrain rotating and raising or lowering the model group relative to the Google Earth layers, as needed. But then views like front, right, etcetera no longer work and in Layout everything is rotated in relation to the view ports. I can’t seem to figure out how to correctly locate my models in the world and stay square. To be clear, with the model organization I use drawing within my groups and components are not adversely affected by geo-location. But of course the model’s relationship with the world is. Still, there must be a better way, you all know-

There is a plug-in I believe that provides all the standard views but you get to choose the view rotation. So you can have a top view squared and then save that to a scene that will work in Layout. But I forgot the plug in name, maybe someone here knows it.

Thanks quantj! I’ll look for a plugin, though I am hoping for better practice/method rather than a plugin fix. This operation should be so intrinsic to Trimble and Sketchup, if we are to use these tools to create construction documents in the world, that I must be doing something out of best practice/method for correct and accurate drawings-

What happens when you rotate the entire model to be squared? Apart from your north-orientation being screwed up, any other problems? I’m asking in general because I don’t work on projects much that rely on an accurate north-orientation and wonder if there’s other other issues.


One such extension is by Chris Fullmer called Extended Views
Keep in mind that you will first want to use the Axis tool to align the modeling axis with your model and that you will want to be in Parallel Projection. After you select your view through the extension, create a scene. You will be activating these scenes in LayOut to get the correct orientation I think you are looking for.

I hope this helps


quantj, assuming you use groups and layers to organize you model within each group the axis is independent of the world axis. Rotating does not affect these internal axii. It does affect all the standard views, in my case front, right, left, etcetera.

The Google information is locked to keep certain information ‘right’ with the world. While you can unlock and modify this information that defeats the purpose of adding it in the first place.

CD, thanks for the suggestion. I think that may help, but suspect it does not solve the viewport issue in layout. Think about a model that is rotated north 8 degrees, 13’, 42" east to match the geo-location information. Now in Layout all the viewports are square with the page, though the model views inside the viewports are all rotated about ~8.2 degrees clockwise. While that is okay for a site plan. For the foundation plans and such not so good. And elevations and sections aren’t lined up with parallel projection either. I’ll look at the extension you mentioned, but I think I am doing something wrong in the process.

I also have heard mention of solar north adjustments, but don’t seem to find that in my MAC version. That may be another avenue-

What is best practice depends upon what you want to create.
There are two ways to geo-locate the model: Add location and Set Manual Location

You say you use Add Location to geo-locate the model, but you don’t say why you use that method.
Is it necessary to have the GE terrain in the model?

Either way you can have the building aligned with the global axes while maintaining the proper relationship of the terrain and true north.
Explain a bit more about what you want to create and we’ll be able to explain how.

Solar North — Extension Warehouse
Provides tools for you to set and display the solar north angle.

Can you provide an example of what you are looking for in LayOut? I am almost there but I’m not quite sure what you are looking for. Check out these files to help clarify
geo orientation.skp (1.0 MB)geo orientation.layout (2.6 MB)


We are trying to create full sets of construction drawings using Layout from a Sketchup 3-D model.

Why am I using Add Location, because it is the only method I am familiar with. If adding the location manually will help we’ll learn.

Is it necessary to have the GE terrain in the model? No, we find the elevation data very unreliable for our projects. Clients like to see the models in an aerial view on the tract and we do shadow studies for our porch and shade roofs.

Thanks for your help!


Yes, your files are headed in the right direction. Playing with your model I see the standard views in your model are just like mine, not aligned with a wall. So I guess I need go watch how to save a particular model orientation in a Sketchup scene. I can use align view and get the view I want, but do not know how to stick that view in a scene. I currently use the standard views in Layout’s Sketchup Model pane or pan and zoom the model within the viewport.

Thanks for your help!

Making progress. I have the nuts and bolts to figure this issue out. Now I need to go learn the difference between which characteristics to ‘save’ in a scene and which to ‘update’

Thanks for everyone’s help and comments, they all added to my learning-

Good to see that you discovered the Align View feature in SU. Instead of the extension, I should have mentioned Align View first as it is a quick and easy way of aligning your camera perpendicular to any surface.



Thanks for your help. It’s amazing how many adjustments you can make within the software right ‘out of the box’. I have a few plugins/extension, but generally find that best practice and organization solves most of my issues.

SketchUp’s model space embodies a three-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system.
By default, everything you do in SU correlates with the inalterable x,y,z world axes.
• Inference Engine
• Inference Locking via Arrow Keys
• View-based Tool Alignment
• Camera > Standard Views
• True North for the Shadow Engine

Best practice is to keep it simple. Model on-axes along the default x,y,z world axes and leave it there.
Use the intrinsic relationship of the tools to the world axes to your advantage, rather than fighting it.

Geo-location via Add Location and subsequently rotating the model as you describe forces you to work off-axes; merely to accommodate imported GE terrain, which as you say, is neither necessary nor desirable.

Manual geo-location empowers you to leave the model properly aligned with the world axes.
Window > Model Info > Geo-location > Set Manual Location…
Then, use the Solar North tools to establish the proper relationship of true north to the model.

From what I gather, all you require is a simple flat face painted with an aerial image of the tract.
Let’s say you draw a large circle whose center is at the Origin.
Group the circle and then edit the group; painting the face with an aerial image material.
Then, use the Texture > Position tools to scale, rotate and position the image.

Bear in mind…
• It’s only an image. Its position has no affect upon geo-location and resulting accuracy of shadows.
Consequently, absolute accuracy in positioning the image isn’t necessary.
• You’re no longer limited to the aerial images from GE, which at times, aren’t the nicest.

There are plenty of other sources of aerial imagery.
For example the images of downtown Lake Geneva from our Walworth County GIS Online Mapping System are much more appealing than the current GE imagery.

GE Snapshot

WalCo GIS Imagery

• Model on-axes along the default x,y,z world axes
• Manually geo-locate the model
• Use the Solar North tools to rotate the direction of north rather than rotate the model off-axes.
• Use an imported aerial image material applied to a face in lieu of the GE Snapshot.
• Confirm all the relevant settings are correct for shadow studies.
I. e.
• Geographic Orientation — Relationship of True North to the model.
• Geographic Location — Latitude and Longitude
• Time — Year, Month, Day, Hour and Minute
• UTC Offset — The difference between local time and the Coordinated Universal Time standard.
More about shadows and manual geo-location here.

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Thank you! This is great info and the timing is perfect as I am ‘learning’ the align view contextual menu only aligns to a top view, no matter which axis you choose to align to.

So, keep model on ‘world’ axis, add Solar North plugin/extension for Geo Orientation, add location, and UTC manually and keep the ‘world’ simple like our model organization.

Very good, thanks for your time-

The ‘trick’ is to use the Axes tool to set the Drawing Axes such that green is vertical and the blue axis is horizontal and perpendicular to the face you wish to view in elevation.
When finished, right context click on the Drawing Axes (away from any geometry)
In the context Reset to return the Drawing Axes to their default ‘World’ position.



Thanks, again. Great tip, I wish I was clever enough to think of these ideas-