Sketchup to .dwg to take advantage of best features

Feel like I’m getting a good handle on sketchup now and I’m relatively comfortable using it. Don’t want to completely drop using it I(and forget everything I’ve learned and go back to autocad (have been using autocad for 20 years) but recognize that cad is not going away for me.
So trying to come up with a way that I can use both tools side by side taking advantage of the best features of both.
Wondering if I could draw floor plans in sketchup and not extrude anything initially then copy paste into autocad and vice versa.
Thinking I could make sure the planes and linework get placed on the correct cad layers (loaded into sketchup from copy pasting a .dwg template), then when I import back into cad everything will be on the correct layers.
Dont want to overcomplicate things just looking for a way to use both pieces of software so remain proficient at both… any ideas?

what kind of work do you do? If you find you cannot escape the old Autocad usage I guess its because you find you rely on it for documentation and detailed drawings. I sympathise with that. Trying to replace your 2D cad tools with the gizmo-driven workflow in Layout just isn’t for everybody. Before, I used to do initial volume modeling in Sketchup, and imported that into Autocad as 2D linework. I only used those lines for reference, as you loose all your layers and all the lines gets chopped up at every line intersection. Getting dwg into sketchup works quite well, but getting 2D output out not so much. Getting 3d sketchup out as a dwg works very well, but I guess having a 3D autocad model is not what you want. :slight_smile:

Note: You will get opinions on this subject but remember opinions are not facts.
Each user has their own experience of how things work for them.

1 Like

Thanks for the reply. I’ve been using cad for 20 years. Do pretty much everything related to construction documents but kind of specialize in detailing.
I have exported out of sketchup in the past some elevations that others have generated in sketchup and was actually quite happy with things for the most part. Yes, the segments were broken (now I know why lol) but was able to use the elevations for a good portion of my elevations.
I haven’t tried layout yet. But I did get through a huge learning curve over the last couple of weeks with sketchup (Modeled an as built house, created a site plan for a small development, created scenes and templates, exported out scenes and movies for incorporation into some literature etc etc… )Yeah I’m kind of gloating hehe (waiting for the crash and burn now)… but my point really is that if I was able to figure out sketchup (intuitively enough) then I’m hopeful about learning to use layout as well.
I have a good project I’m starting now that could be a good fit to incorporate sketchup into the workflow… but it has a short fuse and I’m a little leary… but not completely ready to shy away if someone can give me a little encouragement for moving that direction… I’d be willing to give it a shot.
Yes, not interested in using a 3d model in autocad. If I’m gonna do that guess I’m going back to give Revit another try… but would love to not have to bang my head against that any more lol. Might be easier for me now but it was killing me.

Would love to get some insight into potential workflows for sketchup to cad and vice versa!

I toyed around with the idea of exporting the SU 3d model into autocad and setting up 3d views to generate elevations etc… but found it quicker to stay with layout and export 2d from there…

Also when running a large practice doing highrise I still insisted we keep an active 3d SU model updated right thru construction documentation both for visuals, conflict checking, on site meetings, detailing and generating elevations and sections… we litterally dumped our SU elevations as jpgs into Autocad as needed for the submission sets (colour, shading) and linework for the construction sets as very little and usually very simple editing occurs in those dwgs…

PS. This was around 2005 - 2012 when LO was also less capable… and although improved autocad was/is still the dominant software for interoperability

1 Like

I use mostly sketchup with Layout now, and find its the best solution overall for my use. 2D detailing when its completely separate drawings I still do in Autocad.

Layout had for me a rather steep learning curve, although I have used sketchup for modeling for 20 years. Best advice I can give is to start with a really simple project, and go through all the learning material, videos and all.

Still, after that, your gonna bang your head into a few strange things, like finding only the wrong kinds of snap points trying to dimension your floor plans and sections. Solution for that is to keep stacked versions of your floorplan on top of each other, and have a wireframe version on top for finding your endpoint snaps.

After learning those rather strange things about Layout your gonna end up with sketchup/ Layout being a good total solution for drawing and documentation.

Sounds like i need to take a hard look at layout and it’s capabilities!
So you did/ do all of your elevations, sections & detailing in sketchup and import 2d versions of the sketchup model into cad?
You sort of hit on a few reasons for doing that but in reality what are the ONLY(?) reasons you would need to export to cad in the first place? Working with consultants comes to mind.
Along these lines wondering if I were to do my detailing (I do a LOT of this) in sketchup… (can this be done 2d) what I’d be missing from cad.
Some things that come to mind…
My hatch patterns
The scaling ability of hatches, linetypes etc for various scales
The ability to scale and crop fully detailed building/ wall sections and turn them into individual details (with scaled hatches etc).
My sheet layouts… at least until I get completely comfortable with LO.

Thinking if I could generate everything 2d in sketchup and/ or layout (floor plans, elevations, details etc) I could export these in 2D to model space and use my sheet layouts in cad to crop viewports etc.)
Not sure how to deal with lineweights and plot styles etc though. I typically use lineweights assigned to layers and have ditched plot styles but could go back there as required.
What about consultants? If I copy/paste from sketchup into model space will those .dwg files be ready to hand off to engineers?
Also thinking I would probably (for the time being) want to dimension and notate in autocad… depending on how intuitive and capable sketchup/ LO is.
Any insight into your workflow is appreciated (including what you have already shared).
I have a 4 week long short fuse residential project that I’m thinking I might be able to pull off using sketchup/ Layout… if I start today!)

Odd. That’s encouraging. See other comments I made as addressed to you as well. Wondering how what I’m describing could work as a stop gap measure with your workflow.
Because you mention dimensioning in LO as being somewhat tedious, wondering if I could simply create the the 2d components in layout for export (as gsharp seems to indicate) then do all my dimensioning and notation and page setup in cad.
Also curious why you do your detailing in autocad? I was “hoping” to simplify things and get away from my being a slave to all my details and just start drawing again…
So, what more beneficial in your mind about detailing in cad vs SU/LO?

1st hiccups…
Exported Layout from LO (not a large file) to dwg.
Tried to open in cad. Crashed twice. Black screen both cad and sketchup as best I remember. So, that doesn’t seem workable.

So, remembered I could export a scene (2d) .dwg directly from Sketchup.
Did that and opened fine in CAD.

As expected all lines on 0 layer and all white… ok.
But this pretty much tells me that whatever I import from sketchup is not going to have any useful layer information so lineweights are out the window.

So, thinking now that I’m going to have to use cad to draw my floorplans since I’m planning on using cad to create my sheets… for the time being. Lineweights and layouts already set up.
So, to generate as-built plans thinking draw in cad.
Export cad plans to .skp as underlay and quickly (hopefully) generate as-built elevations… albeit with only one lineweight when brought back into cad.
Manipulate 3d model to get roofs and plans working… general look and feel and constructability. will be manipulating plan quite likely so when brought back into cad will use as underlay to update the cad plan…
Export scenes of as-built elevations back into cad format (showing window and door Rough openings only).
Noting that If I have a digital survey then I’ll also be able to export existing grade/ topo in elevation and section. This is huge.
xref sketchup files back into cad so can continue going back and forth between 2 softwares.
Rework plans in cad file as required due to manipulation in sketchup to coordinate with cad plans.
Rework the elevations with lineweights/ windows and doors/ Elevation “levels”, notes etc. in model space… since no lineweights availabe in sketchup for my purposes.
Create sheet layouts (in cad) for my as-built elevation sheets & plan sheets. (Since I already have set up)
Continue working on plans for renovation work, demo and new construction plans in cad.
Finalize these plans in cad.
Export reno plans into sketchup
Draw reno elevations
Back into cad and repeat.
Dimension and notate everything in cad.
Decide later what to do about sections and details…

Basically using sketchup for topo, elevations, possibly building and wall section (rough graphics) (possibly)What I’m thinking now.

Any comments? See any problems? Insight into a more productive method?
All help appreciated!

I’ve seen many on the forum saying they experiment with workflows in order to take sketchup geometry into other software and do detailing from there. But what when you change something in your model? do you then re-export? maybe half an hour later you need to change stuff again…

If sketchup is your main model where you keep everything up-to date, then I think its best to do your documentation in Layout. Any other work in Autocad would then be work that can be standalone, like detailing. (You can do that in Layout too). Best would be to try it out :slight_smile:

I dont think going back and forth too much is effective

I guess I misunderstood you. Thought you were doing your detailing primarily in cad.
Yeah I hear you about going back and forth between two different softwares…
BUT if Layout has it’s own set of issues…
Technically I’m thinking LO is separate piece of software too… so maybe not that different than going back and forth between cad and sketchup.
Except of course that the model is not updating! Which is a big deal but just might be a trade off for me (at least for now).
Handled somewhat with xref’s so not as cumbersome… at least how I’m rationalizing and maybe will justify.

For the record. I appreciate your thoughts!

I’m not saying that it is better to draw your 2D work in Autocad. Just that as detailed construction drawing are / can be separate drawings it does not really matter that much. So you can learn to work on presenting plans, sections and facades , and wait with the intensive drawing of details inside Layout. I will do it eventually, but migrating routines takes time.

Or do all your detailing in SU;)


Think I understand now what you’re talking about “odd”…
Sonder… Yes that would be the end goal.

Both- But bottom line is to do any type of presentation work in sketchup/ layout I’ll need to set up my sheet borders etc in Layout.
And eventually, I personally will need to share my work with consultants etc. that most likely won’t be using sketchup.
So, how do you get around that?

Sonder… as in Nick lol.
I have had your book for a LONG time. Finally got around to using it. Has been helpful with getting me through some of my hurdles. Great book… very intuitive for me coming from a cad background and all. I like the way you set things up for the most part btw and can see it working for a routine of sorts that I end up incorporating.

1 Like

Getting linework made in Layout into autocad is easy. The dwg will keep the Layout layers. The viewport of a sketchup model inside Layout will not, however, keep their tags as layers in the dwg.

I definitely do my detailing in 3d in SU… agree totally with Nick Sonder…

One of the reasons for keeping a concurrent 3d SU model of our projects was the ability to work up 3d details (talking high rise office and apartment projects) … vastly superior to 2d detailing as you totally understand how your detailing interacts with all surrounding elements… (ps… I have been doing this since my datacad days in 1984). If a detail is going to be repeated 300-1000 times in a building you better be confident you have understood it thoroughly… and the 3d model gives everyone else in the project (consultants, client, contractor, authorities, sub contractors) a clear understanding of what is expected

1 Like

Thinking I really need to look at the capability of layout. Not being familiar with it enough to really understand how detailing is done it is limiting my understanding of what you are describing. So need to get to school on that part.