Need properly working layers

Been annoyed by how layers work. Would like to see some of the functionality that’s similar in Illustrator (or any other software). The point of layering is that each layer is a container with content in them.

Grouping objects is the closest thing to making layers that sketchup has.

A quick easy fix would be to make it possible to have checkmark to importing layers as groups.

Have to say, the improvement list is staggering. But let’s start here.

Oh dear.


If you’re going to use SketchUp, get used to the idea that layers don’t work like they do in 2D applications. They aren’t supposed to. They work as they are designed to work.

I got other 3D programs that use layers better, and they work very much similar to 2D programs

Maybe you should use those other 3D programs then if you can’t manage with the way SketchUp works.

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Perhaps you do, but try using layers the way they are designed to work in the program they are being used in.

Maybe you should use those other 3D programs

That’s why Sketchup has an import feature

I guess I came to the wrong place to suggest improvements when there is no-one that actually want improvements

I guess best way to layer something is by running 3 or 4 separate instances of Sketchup and importing each layer as a separate object, making a group objects, and them merge all the sketchup files.


They work for me and always have, I don’t want Trimble to change how they work now.


Layers work just fine in SketchUp the way they are when used as they were designed to be used.

We are all happy to make improvements, and the basics of how layers can be improved has been discussed at great length. But most importantly from a position of understanding rather than a knee jerk reaction from another program.

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as they were designed to be used.

How might that be?

I might have a different pipeline, so I might have other expectations.

The software seem to be a bit tailored to Urban or Archi type kind of environment.

Not at all, I use it for Illustration and automotive design, I only dip into Arch Viz when I need more beer money. Some of my models can get way out of hand and I need the layers working as they do to optimize the working model.

I think a lot of the confusion is that generally from working with a bunch of other stuff we are used to the term ‘layer’ meaning one specific type of function. When in fact it can mean other things too, I think it should be emphasized more, it confuses and annoys a lot of people.

You are both right and wrong here. The current “layer” feature of SketchUp is very powerful and useful. I don’t want it to change and I don’t think any other of the advanced SketchUp users wants either. It is very much properly working for exactly what it is intended for.

However, SketchUp “layers” just isn’t the same feature that illustrator, photoshop, paint dot NET, Inkscape etc refer to as layers. SketchUp layers are global tags that you assign to object to control their visibility. These other programs use layers to separate the document into sections that can be safely worked with without affecting the others. This functionality is in SketchUp, as you say, implemented as groups.

While I don’t want the SketchUp “layer” feature itself to change, I’d very much want it to be renamed so people stop mixing it up with layers. I agree importers should translate layers to groups, and think the SketchUp “layer” should be assigned to the group as a whole, rather than individual edges and faces. This would also solve most of the undesired geometry merging on import.


Does the word “layer” mean exactly the same thing in every other program known to humanity except Sketchup?

For design software, mostly yes ( in terms of how they function, including other CAD stuff).

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I’ve never become an Adobe ninja but if I’m not mistaken swatches are global. It doesn’t matter where in a document, on what layer or for what kind of object a swatch is used, it can still be changed from one central place and the whole document updates, right? SketchUp “layers” work like this, but instead of controlling color they control visibility. They do, just like swatches, not in any way define a document hierarchy.

For a long time I was very confused by the whole “SketchUp layers aren’t layers” thing. When I started learning other programs, after using SketchUp for years, I understood what it all meant. The SketchUp feature in itself is great but it just isn’t what people are used to the word meaning.


It’s my hope that all the other platforms also have forums like this one.
I might need one someday.