Sketchup sluggish and crashes, model too big?

I am new to Sketchup. I have been working on a model for some time in the free version of Sketchup Web and it has reached 31,613 entities with two levels of nested components. Before this point the UI became so sluggish it was almost unusable. Then I discovered how to combine shapes into reusable components which help me get further along. But then it eventually became slow again and nearly unusable. Now, whenever I create a new copy of a component, it crashes and I lose my work. I tried redoing this several times without success. I have tried this on a MacBook Pro and a Windows desktop. The desktop lasted a little longer but then crashed also. Does Sketchup or the community provide guidance on how big a model can be in the free version? I’ve heard the free desktop application could have worked better, but is no longer available. I have also heard that the paid version will do better, but if there are no specific guidelines on how much bigger of a model I can create in the paid version, I am not sure I want to try: to pay, just to find out that it also cannot handle my intended model. Any advice would be great. Thanks.

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There are many ways to model efficiently, sounds like you may not be. It’s all part of the learning curve.
It would help to see your model so we can access where you may be going wrong, if at all. It could also be that the graphic card in your mac isn’t quite up to it, but that is less likely in this case.
You can download your model from the web version from the icon top right, then attach it here, if it is too big, over 10meg you could add it to dropbox or similar and post the link.

The free desktop version, 2017 Make is still available from the sketchup download page, the 2020 desktop version gives you a free 1 month trial before you need to think about paying for anything.

Thanks. I’ll try uploading the latest version here. Great Tower 4 v.4.skp (10.6 MB)

Firstly you have over 35 million edges in the model, this will bring your computer to its knees.
Sketchup is made of edges and faces and the more there are the more it has to render. There is a trade off when modelling, we tend to only model things as detailed as you need them to be depending on the reason you are creating the model. If it is for highly detailed close ups we model all the details but if it is for an over all shot we look at what is really needed and reduce the detail appropriately.
Your columns for example are just masses of black when you try to look at the whole tower, so all the detail doesn’t help. The four thousand components have helped reduce the file size but do nothing for the rendering bottleneck.
If you must have all this detail you can assign a visibility Tag to the columns and turn them off when modelling and back on when you want to see them.
Tags should only be assigned to groups or components and not to Raw Geometry (loose edges and faces).

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Here’s a quick example of what I mean. I have assigned them to a Tag called Columns and you can see I can fly around the model with ease when they are off but it lags as soon as I turn them back on.
Too many edges

Nice. That would be very helpful. If I can make parts of the model invisible (like most of the towers) while I work on other parts, that will help. I’m hoping that it also solves the crashing problem.

Yes, lots of detail. I hope to render this from multiple angles with parts close up and parts in the distance, and create book illustrations from them. I’m guessing I will have to switch to the paid version to render this in a photo-realistic way so the black lines don’t make the columns all black at a distance. I tried making components invisible earlier but it didn’t seem to help. I will have to look into visibility tags.

You can make detailed columns and save them as components, then you can work with basic ‘proxy’ components and swap in the detailed ones when needed.

By “swap in”, is there an easy way to replace all the columns at once with a single action?

You can in the desktop version, not sure if you can in the web version.
See how I use the component browser to select all the plain ones and replace them with the detailed one.

Box’ suggestion may work, though selecting >2000 components and swapping them may be tricky.

A different approach is to put two alternate versions into the same component. In my version of the file there is now a Detailed Column tag, and a Not Detailed Column tag. You can hide the detailed one while you are generally working, and show the detailed one when you’re ready to export an image.

Something else to know, Profiles is a very demanding thing. Turning off Profiles will speed up working with the model, even with the detailed columns. Here’s a screen recording with Profiles being turned off.

Here’s the alternate columns model.

Great Tower 4 v.4 alternate columns.skp (10.6 MB)

Thanks Colin and Box. Those both look like very good options for me to try. After a little Googling, I think neither are available in the free web version. My desire is to continue developing this model into an elaborate Romanesque/Gothic structure. My plan is to cover all faces of this tower with columns, which means 10x or 100x more surfaces than the current model. I also want to do a photo-realistic render with a plugin when it’s complete. Given those goals, do you think Sketchup Shop would work, or should I just plan on Sketchup Pro? And if I go with Pro, am I locked in to one version (Mac vs. Windows) or can I use the same subscription on two computers? Thanks.

The tags thing I did does work in the Free web version. Try it out with the model I gave.

To answer the other questions, what version of SketchUp you have depends mostly on whether you’re intending to earn income from your use of SketchUp. If you are, you would need to be using Shop or Pro, or you could still get a ‘Classic’ license, at least until November 4th. I can explain those differences!

The main advantages of Pro over Shop is that you can handle much more demanding models, and there are ‘extensions’, plugins that add additional features to SketchUp, that currently doesn’t have an equivalent in the web version.

There are renderers that can take a SketchUp file, so that alone doesn’t rule out Shop. Wanting to see real time renders as you work in SketchUp, does rule out Shop, you would want Pro.

A few of the real time options are Windows only. The Classic license is cross platform, and the subscriptions work off your email address, and so is also cross platform. You can have SketchUp working on two computers, and they can be a Mac and a PC if that’s what you have.

Yes, I did try the visibility tag in the free version this morning and it does help. Thanks for helping me find that feature. I will see how far I can get using that technique.

Ok, thanks. I don’t need real time rendering, and I’m not sure if I will be earning income from this or not. It’s a hobby for now, but the end goal is to indirectly create illustrations for a book I want to publish – with no guarantee that the book will earn income. I would not put the rendered Sketchup model in the book, but I would essentially hand-draw an illustration based on the rendered model. So … is that professional use?

I’m not a lawyer, but I think you could go a long way for now, and if the book earns money, and you did rely on SketchUp to help create the income, you could get a commercial license then.

Colin, thanks. Sounds good, regarding commercial license.

I downloaded the 2017 free desktop version (Sketchup Make?) just to see if I could get further with that with or without visibility tags. It does not appear to support tags; is that correct? When I load the version of the model where everything is turned on (not making any tag invisible), I could move around and view the model from a few angles for a few minutes, but now the application is frozen. So this version of the software does not seem to be an option.

Before SketchUp 2020, Tags were called Layers, but the technique still works. Here’s a 2017 version of the file, try that in Make, and in the Layers panel click the Visible checkbox to turn the two layers on or off.

Great Tower 4 v.4 alternate columns 2017.skp (10.6 MB)

Awesome. Thanks.

Btw, how did you add the “detailed column” tag/layer to all of the columns? When I edit the entity info for one of those columns, it says “Layer 0” not “detailed column”.

Raw geometry wants to always be in layer0, or untagged in 2020. To get the two columns to be in layers, I put your original geometry into one group, and tagged the group, then did the same for the cylinder I added. So, the geometry is still layer0, but the group it is in is set to be one of the two customer layers.