Sketchup and Point Cloud Workflow

I recently got a Lecia BLK360 3D scanner and started incorporating Point Clouds into my workflow.

Since I am new to using point clouds in Sketchup, I wonder what everyone’s workflow is?

I think my workflow can be refined to make it more efficient?
Mine so far is:

  1. Register in cyclone Register BLK
  2. Bring into CloudCompare to clean up and isolate buildings trees, and remove unwanted plus remesh the existing site ground/topography
  3. Load into Sketchup and model proposed landscape elements elements
  4. Load into Layout to create the presentation documents
  5. Export to Draftsight (knock off of ACAD LT) to create the final construction documents

I look forward to learning about your workflows.

Apologies in advance for the length of this post, but I promised the OP that I would detail my point cloud workflow for a straightforward project. The reason I use points clouds is partly to help create visuals, but mainly because their accuracy enables us to create structural glass extensions that must fit snugly against elevations that are often a long way off square, such as very old cottages that have walls which can be literally 150mm off vertical over a typical 2.5M height. A quick laser scan allows me to detail the large glass panels that fit these uneven elevations accurately, and helps me to create the visuals. I can honestly say we haven’t had a single glass panel that didn’t fit perfectly since we started using digital surveys about 4 years ago.

1: I usually scan a client’s property on my first visit using our Faro 3D Laser Scanner to capture the buildings current ‘as built’ condition, even though part of what I am scanning will usually be replaced.

2: I usually provide the client with a free visual which I create from the scan using SketchUp and Vray. I used to model everything from the point cloud and render it with Vray, but now if I can get the right site photo, I just model the new glass structure from the point cloud and use SketchUp’s Photo Match feature and Vray to produce the visual which is much faster.

3: Usually after my initial visit, the client’s builder needs to do some building and/or demolition work, so I will do another laser scan after that’s completed to capture the new geometry before I do my final drawings. Sometimes a single final scan is sufficient, but most projects require 3 scans or more.

4: Next, I use Faro’s Scene Software to process, register and clip the individual scans into a single point cloud which I export in PTS format which usually results in a file size somewhere between 0.5GB & 5GB

5: I then use Undet’s Point Cloud Software extension to import the point cloud into SketchUp as it handles large point clouds effortlessly and makes working with them in SketchUp very straightforward. The first thing I do is position the point cloud to vertically set the floor level then I set the red axis accurately using Undet’s Coordinate System and finally I lock it in place.

7: I then use Undet’s feature extraction utility to create a mesh from the point cloud wherever the glass meets the building, then I use the SketchUp’s Section Tools & ‘Create Group from Slice’ command to build up single line sections which follow the building’s contours exactly wherever our structure meets it.

8: Using those ‘Group from Slice’ sections I can then draw our structure to the tolerances required and be totally confident that the resulting glass will fit perfectly.

9: Once the model is finished, I create lots of standard scenes in SketchUp then produce all design, section, detail, and set-out drawings in a single Layout document usually amounting to around 50 sheets per project.

Then finally - we build it :grinning:


Thank you for the great detail regarding your work follow and excellent work too!

Is Undet extension better than the SU Point Cloud handling capabilities? What advantages does it have?

I have not used vray yet. I have usually just used the native SU and Layout images. In the near future, will be creating some nighttime imagery of a landscape design that I am working on. I wish vray could handle the point cloud in the renders. It would save the modeling time.

I have some very large point clouds and have been wondering how SU would handle them. How big are the point clouds are you guys working with? Thanks.

My first point cloud in SU was 1.8g.

You could decimate your point could reduce your file size? Point Cloud and Mesh Cloud can reduce the points based on the distance between points. Depending on what you are doing, a distance between points of 6mm (1/4" ) might be acceptable. Areas around the scanner may have points much closer than 6mm (1/4") if it does, it removes the extra points resulting in a smaller point cloud file.

It is merely limited by the hardware, especially RAM and graphics, I have seen examples that used 20+ Gb.

You can download a trial version of the Undet extension here:

SketchUp point cloud plugin to create 3D models from scan data | Undet

I find it great but the best thing is to try it.

Let us know if you have any questions :+1:

It can import loads of formats into SketchUp - I think you use e57 which is supported.

I should have mentioned in my previous post I did demo Undet. I did not find any advantages over the Scan Essentials that came with SU studio. On the other hand, I was only quickly trying the Undet.

For me being able to get an accurate mesh from the point cloud is Key, which is where Undet’s Feature Extraction tool comes in.

There was a recent thread comparing Scan Essentials and Undet which is worth reading:

Undet VS Scan Essentials (Sketchup Studio) - Extending SketchUp / Scan Essentials - SketchUp Community


Just read other the tread. Right now, I might just keep with Scan Essentials, as I am hoping to mostly use the point cloud for most of the modeling.

I might give it another go when I have a few more projects on the go or time on my hands to give it a better try. I am interested in the texture from the point cloud that @Noble_Architectureture mentioned in his comment.

I’m trying to manipulate a point cloud model that we had received earlier this week. It’s a scan of an existing area which easily surpasses 1GB in size. Is there any way to import this scan into sketchup so that I can have a working model, instead of building it from scratch?

Aye yai yai!

Thanks guys for the help

I am not sure of your end result and turnaround time. But you could demo SU studio, UnDET, or use CloudCompare (open source).

Easiest might be scan essentials (an extension that comes with SU studio) and allow you to import the Point Cloud.

You can also use CloudCompare to reduce the size, clip out items you don’t need, and mesh the points into a model which can be exported out and then imported into SU. A bit of a learning curve though.