Proposal of how to solve the section-fill-color problem

Hi everybody,

Inspired by @JustinTSE s video “Can Sketchup keep up” & the current thread about this topic I finally decided to mock up something that’s been on my mind for a long time. A (in my humbled opinion) rather simple change in Sketchup that would allow for far more flexibility of how to represent section cuts while NOT confusing users that do not need that functionality.

From the user-interface-side for this to work we need to make ONE adjustment to Sketchup: allow to add a “section cut fill color” for each material. Meaning: for each Material you can define TWO Colors/Patterns/Textures. One for the surface, one for the section cut.

Once this is implemented (and a million things changed in the background) a section cut would honor this material when showing a cut. I made a crude mockup-of this and defined 5 rules of how Sketchup would/should behave.

They are as follows:

Rule 1: If Sketchup can identify a group as a volume-group it will use the section cut fill that of the material that is the group is colored in.

Rule 2: A differently painted surface in a volume group WILL NOT affect section cut fills.

Rule 3: If a group is not defined as a true volume Sketchup will show no section fillcolor at all.

(Hence: a group that contains volume-sub-groups will not show it’s own section fill color but will show the section fill colors of its volume-sub-groups)

Rule 4: If a a material has no section-fill color defined Sketchup will revert back to the standard section-fill-color (also important for backwards-compatibility)

Rule 5: Rule 5: Section cut-fill colors will respect the AXIS of the GROUP. Hence - a rotated group will also rotate the section cut fill.

Layout would honor these rules as well, making for awesome detailing-documents.

There is one catch with this setup: At least in Germany you have different section-cut-fills for wood DEPENDING ON HOW YOU CUT IT - but this would require a so much more complex system that I think it can be ignored.

What do you think? Might this work?


There is obviously a need for controlling section cut face textures as it is a primary appeal of “Skalp” and Curic’s extension… what you propose seems to address that also…

Another possibility might be to allow the Tag colour (a relatively unused setting) to be optionally assigned to section cut faces… just need a scene toggle

I was thinking about using tags as well. However - if one thinks about what a section cut fill actually is supposed to represent it makes more sense to use materials instead of tags. I still had a course of “manual hand drawing of construction plans” when becoming a carpenter back in the days. So really drawing these fillings line by line or dot by dot… And it was always like: concrete has this pattern, wood has this pattern, insulation has this pattern, steel has this pattern, etc. So having a proper set of material would be a “set & forget” type experience while managing all these tags adds yet one more level of things one has to do in the drawing over and over again.

Trimble could update their material library to already set up the patterns correctly and it’s just something that “would work” (of course all these warehouse-models would bring materials that don’t have these properties but that’s where rule 4 would set in again.

reg. @trampy s remark: One can dream now can’t one? And I have the feeling that Trimble is a lot more open about these type of discussions than just a few years ago. Plus IT’S SUCH A NICELY BOTCHED TOGETHER MOCK-UP! :crazy_face:

Alas, as it seems, yet another discussion that’s going in the B versus S ‘discussion’ …

Read only when frustrated

Some contributions expose some underlying frustrations about the initial development of SketchUp as a modeling tool, and combined with the lack of showing results in B even after a learning period of three years doesn’t add anything other than being also frustrated with it.

The underlying problem is with the way that SketchUp deals with ‘solid entities’ and the more visual aspects of colors versus materials.

Also see this thread:


Right on @MikeWayzovski → For me this is a Sketchup-Only-Diskussion. I wanted to put that thought out there - it’s been nagging me for month now. Maybe it will inspire somebody at Trimble and maybe it won’t. If it doesn’t - I certainly am going to continue to model in Sketchup because I love this software to bits. If it does - I’d be very happy about it! :slight_smile: As @JustinTSE suggested: Sketchup will always try to stay as light and easy as possible - I like that thought. I feel that the way I proposed the feature to work would be very very “Sketchup-like” and could work without making the program more complex.


I think that your proposed solution of defining a section fill by material is a good approach. I had the same thought, that materials should each have the option for a defined section fill — that would be raster in SU and automagically converted to a vector pattern when embedded in LO.

I had originally thought that an expanded Colour by Tag functionality — think ‘Texture by Tag’ — that would allow textures to be assigned by tag (not just solid colours) and would additionally define fills by tag.

Actually for my workflow and tag structure this would work better for me, but I think that your way is more flexible and allows for a wider range of workflows. And it doesn’t break existing workflows or models — if one doesn’t define a fill pattern, it defaults to the solid fill option.

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Thanks @db11 That was the first response that actually adressed the content of the proposal. :sweat_smile::+1:


The tag colors can be edited:

My bad - I’m still using SU 2019 and ‘Color by Layer’ doesn’t allow that option, so wasn’t aware that it had been added already.

You’re welcome. I don’t have much faith that many things we’d like to see evolve in SU will actually come to fruition, but I’m willing to allow that possibility! So worth putting it out there and see if it gets picked up by the SU Team.

(Not really interested in engaging the unproductive B vs SU discussions and the constant sniping back and forth between SU and B fans)


I whole heartedly agree and have requested the same. You cant get clear documentation out of layout with only one section cut fill colour. How do you clearly differentiate walls in an commercial building without the ability to control the fill colour. To fill every wall the same grey and rely on some complex text code system does not cut it and leads to construction mistakes. You want to clearly distinguish, standard plasterboard wall / sound rated plasterboard / concrete block / brick / timber frame / 1 hour fire rated / 2 hour fire rated … the list is endless, we need colour by object. Just keep it all in one spot and split the colour palette into surface colour and section fill colour or pattern as you suggest. Doing it by tag colour would be a horrible idea ( workaround ) why split the colour control into 2 separate and unrelated locations, and for most of us in architectural work, we don’t use tags ( layers ) for materials like wood or concrete, we use tags for Level 1 /’ Level 2 / Ceiling / Floor / Wall / Fixtures / Air Conditioning. I recently had someone from sketchup contact me after a previous post and wanted a google meeting to discuss suggested improvements. My first big ticket item discussed was isolated section planes in layout without the background stuff showing ( like architects actually draw sections ). and ability to designate section fill colour of objects as well as the surface face colour. Such simple and obvious needs that would be there if sketchup hired actual architects that know what they need to draw as well as software people who can make that happen. Please give us what we need, not what someone who doesn’t work in the industry thinks we need. If you did you’d have so many more customers who could ditch their expensive CAD software that can do this that they also run because sketchup and layout cant.

No practical conflict in having tags reference materials… my architectural drawings have tags for floor levels eg L01, L02, L34 etc which have comprise a group or component containing all the building elements eg WALL-BRIK, WALL-BLOK, JOIN, DOOR, GLAZ, FURN etc which both allows for trade and consultancy separation as well as potentially assigning material hatch textures with no complications and in accord with professional layering standards…

Re sections, never needed to but I suspect you could set up a scene with only the active section showing, import into layout and keep linked until you have finalised your design… then explode it and edit the fills in Layout… still a workaround but not an onerous task

You do this via tagging those elements you want to have a different color. Then create 2 different styles. It’s very simple and fast since you isolate elements to vector render=speed in LO. You set this up once as templates in both SU and LO.

BTW you can isolate just the section cut.

Hi Nick, I don’t understand what you describe there, “You do this via tagging those elements you want to have a different color. Then create 2 different styles.” The only way I have heard of Isolating the section cut is the Donley Method of setting all tags colours to 0% opacity and using a style with colour by tag. So if you tag those elements you want to have a different fill colour, doesn’t that the break the isolated section by Donley Method as now some tags are not set to transparent?

Sorry, you set the color of the section fill different between the styles, not the tags, using the “Donley Method”… ha ha I coined that phrase once and it stuck! Matt still rolls his eyes!

Hi Gary, But attempting to set fill colours by tags as you propose does end up making a potentially huge list of tags to scroll through, on top of the Tags one already has for walls / doors / windows / fixtures / … So where the model only needed 1 tag for walls, to have tags top allocate fill colours means that one walls tag needs added Walls-Block / Walls-Concrete / Walls-102mmPB / Walls-92mmPB / Walls-1HourFR / Walls-2HourFR / Walls-Acoustic RW45 / Walls-Acoustic RW45 / Walls-Acoustic RW55 … on ad on it would go. Seems to be a lot easier just to set fill colour with an extended materials pallet and set the fill at the same time you set the objects colour. I end up with so many tags as it is on commercial projects, and assigning them via the entities window which only displays 5 tags in the popup on a mac already is a very slow scroll. I think it would be so much easier to deal with fill colours in the materials pallet whist there, than turn it into a filing exercise in tag allocation. All hypothetical anyway, I haven’t seen any interest at sketchup in natively achieving isolated sections with ability to have different colour or hatch fills to different objects. Still hoping

Or, use tag control in your scenes, which you should be doing with the Donley method. You don’t need additional tags to achieve different colors of the section cut, just separate scenes.

Mate Matt should be honoured the Donley names now famous. I understand what you were saying re setting fill colours by styles and then stacking views with one tag turned on and that section styles set to red fill, then stack another with another tag turned on and that section styles set to blue fill … But if you have 20 different wall types to display, and timber jambs and glass thats a hell of a stack. I just wish this could be achieved natively and not via any workarounds. It would be nice to be able to get a section out where materials are clearly distinguishable by colour or hatch.


I don’t key wall assemblies that way, so I only have 2. What would be nice is if the styles panel allowed you to select fill by tag color and have an override for the section fill opacity.

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Hi Nick, In Australia at least walls are pretty universally denoted and differentiated by some sort of hatch or pattern, and as construction documents are an attempt at clear communication to a builder I think it would be risky to present every wall of every type as one grey fill defined in the style fill option. We want to make as clear as possible whats a fire wall, acoustic wall, full height to slab, below ceiling, etc. Everyone who uses sketchup is used to assigning a face colour from the materials pallet ( and getting the section fill from the style used ) . So don’t think it would be a big deal to set a section fill colour whilst there ( or if not the fill could use the fill default in the style ). I don’t understand why one would want to go setting fill colours by styles or tags seems counter intuitive to me. We wouldn’t want to set face materials of objects by tag or styles and delete the material pallet. Would seem so easy to have a tab on the material pallet for face and one for fill, some would never use the fill tab and they will get the style set fill, I’d use it to override anything of importance. I’ll leave it there, just opinions. Sounds like lots want the ability to control fills somehow. And if you set fills by colour Tag you break the Donley method so cant have both.