SketchUp Challenges

I have quite an unusual request. I teach SketchUp at a vocational organisation. We use SketchUp as a tool to deliver a unit of competency. One of the criteria of the unit is “types of challenges that occur using a CAD application, and how to avoid and respond.”

In the past I’ve given the students a quiz on certain SketchUp challenges and one question was related to down-saving to older versions of SketchUp but this is no longer an issue as 2024 files can be opened as far back as 2020.

My question for you all is this: what are common challenges you experience with SketchUp and how do you solve the issues? What are general rules to follow to make the modelling process better?


Great question @Seosamh. It really depends on what you are teaching students to do.

For example, if you are teaching landscape design it would be good to look at sandbox tools but a interior designer would benefit more from looking at optimization of detailed objects so they can populate a model with many objects more effectively. Of course both of these people would benefit from rendering extensions but someone learning about manufacturing objects via 3D printing would benefit far more from learning about the solid tools and solid inspector extensions.

So, coming back to my question, what are you teaching your students to do?

Thanks for the reply @CaseyG . I teach interior design with some basic Enscape rendering with documentation done in LayOut.

Versioning is one. It takes up hard disk space, but that’s not expensive compared to losing your work or having to do work over. It can happen that a file gets corrupted and you can’t open it. Having a previous version to fall back to can save your life. (happened to me once) Also, sometime you go backwards in the design process and return to an earlier idea. There are different ways of leaving your trail of versions: either the latest always has the same name (can be useful to Layout) or the latest is the highest version number.

Thanks, @RTCool - yes I do get the students to create an archive folder for storing older versions of models and creating cloud-based backups.

One of the quiz questions is how to recover from a corrupted file. I used to have a question on opening newer models in older versions of SketchUp but now that it’s no longer an issue I need a few more challenges.

I remember there was an issue with the model looking like it was cut when it was drawn too far from the origin point but I can’t remember exactly what that was.

Thanks for all the additional info. That does present us with some options for suggestions.

I am guessing that your students are already familiar with the 3D Warehouse but teaching them how to identify quality models would be a good idea so they can avoid inadvertently creating bloat in their file. I would also make sure they understand what purging unused content in a model does. Of course that is all fairly basic and I ma guessing you are looking for a more advanced topic.

How about teaching students how to identify if a component downloaded from an external site is usable in SketchUp? I don’t just mean how to import a file. I mean teaching best practice to make sure the component is not going to corrupt the file. After all, not every file we download is going to import into SketchUp correctly and some can even cause a crash.

As for rendering, that is a bit outside my area of expertise but I have found it is far too easy to render something that looks too perfect in terms of lining things up just right. Little imperfections add realism but too many makes a render look sloppy. That of course is a complex and somewhat subjective topic though so you may find that one a bit tricky to cover.

@CaseyG Aw yes I do get them to purge the model when it gets too large. I could work that into a quiz question.

I could also get them to identify subtle elements that make for a realistic render.

They don’t really download components from outside the 3D Warehouse so that might be a tricky one. Thanks for your input.