Space planning in 2D - sketchup or layout

Looking for some advice. I am working as an assistant to an interior designer. She is wanting to make her presentations a bit more professional so we’ve decided to work with SketchUp. Currently we overlay given floor plans over a an image of graph paper on google slides, and then scale the images so 1 square = 1’. We then draw shapes to represent different pieces of furniture. It gets the job done but certainly isn’t as professional as she would like it to be.

However, we would like to maintain the ability to easily move furniture pieces around and still maintain a the graph image as the background to have a quick reference for the size of the space or size of a particular furniture piece. Is it possible to draw a floor plan directly into LayOut? And insert images on top of that that can be moved easily to play around with space plans?

You could do this in LayOut with 2D shapes as groups representing the furniture pieces. With LayOut you can have a grid shown underneath if you want.

I would encourage you to consider using SketchUp and working in 3D. You can still have furniture components that you can rearrange but you can also be thinking in 3D and considering the volume of space that objects consume or where shadows will fall at different times of the day. You can easily include scale human figures to give a frame of reference. If you want you can show 2D plan and elevation views of the 3D model but you can also show 3D perspective views as if you are standing in the room. Many clients will find that sort of stuff easier to understand than simply looking at 2D drawings and a single perspective view will generally communicate what it would take more than one 2D view to do.

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Not to mention more impressive. Completely agree with Dave here. The program is 3D. That’s total strength for us designers. The client goes ‘but can my 16’ boat trailer fit in there sideways?’ and you grab the fully 3D trailer and move it. They lose their minds.


I would agree with the last two posts but I can also see that it could be faster to create a 2D image if all you need is a plan. In that case, you could use Layout as @DaveR suggested or you could use SU. You can easily create a template for your “graph” which you would probably keep on its own tag so that you can switch it on and off at will. I think you would find this s lot easier, quicker, and more reliable than using the physical overlay system you currently employ.


Personaly would suggest to just use SU to model your plan(s).
You can use the ‘terrain mesh’ option to create a grid-background (top view), and model your plan on top of it.
Use blocks/components for your furniture and other items, you can easily move, rotate, add, edit and/or replace these as desired.
Just be carefull of z-fighting when modelling in 2D.


So… i made this video just recently because of these sorts of questions.

If I am being TOTALLY honest, though… SketchUp is a 3D modeling software with tools that were thought of and created from the ground up to be used in 3D. If you are looking for a tool ONLY to draw in 2D, there are other tools out there… if you are looking for a software that will allow you to migrate from hand drawings to 2D on the computer and then to 3D modeling, then this process can be muddled through. If you are willing to accept that this will be different and there will be growing pains, but want to embrace the process of designing in 3D and all of the advantages it brings, then you got the perfect tool for the job.

Think of it as a hammer… you CAN use a hammer to drive a screw into wood. It will be harder to do, but you can get it done… but pounding a nail in with a hammer is easier, because thats what a hammer was designed to do.


We do all our plans in 2D inside SketchUp.

After that I will model the volumes of the buildings while still leaving the 2D plans in section cut faces.

We will place volumes in the terrain and develop their massing studies while still keeping the plans 2D.

We can keep studying elevations with the plans being 2D.

Only on a final stage do we move on to 3D. All conceptual work is mostly hybrid between 2d and 3d but all is done inside SketchUp.

SketchUp tools are incredible for that and the fact that it generates faces on closed loops makes hatches and areas a zip for presentations.

With a 2d SketchUp drawing Layout doesn’t even blink. It’s much faster than AutoCAD paper space and looks much better.


I suppose, but as a general rule, it’s always best to draw as little as possible in Layout. If I need to draw anything, I always try to think of how to draw it in SketchUp instead, and then just bring in a view to Layout.

To be honest, all of my design work starts out in 2D in PowerCADD, but given it’s current status is in development limbo, I wouldn’t suggest it as a new purchase right now. Sometimes I leave the imported PC linework floating above the SU model to make a hybrid view.


Residential extensions, conversions, alterations, etc.

I model existing and proposed arrangements in SketchUp 3D (sometimes detailed, sometimes not - depending on the complexity of the project) and export scenes to Layout but I also routinely use Layout only to produce site plans and large scale details.

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Another vote for doing this in 3D. The benefit of being able to generate plans, elevations (interior and exterior) all with a simple setup will speed up the whole process, and you are then only editing one entity and not several drawings.

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For architecture, there’s nothing better than having the 3d model at some point, exactly as @Sonder

For interior designers I’ve worked with, sometimes elevations are not a delivery. So having a layout of the place, samples, catalogues and moodboards might be enough.

I would actively try to avoid drawing purely in 2D - you’ll end up running into other little frustrating things.

by the time you have drawn your walls in, you are 95% of the way to being in 3D anyway, so I would make that your target.

To go from 2D to 3D is pretty easy and you’ll have so many more options to make your work look more professional and open doors to other design and presentation technique - this is for certain!

Totally get that 3D is most people’s preferences and if this was my business I would absolutely take that advice. However, this is her business plan and I’m her assistant so I’m doing what I can to help her grow in a way she feels comfortable with. I really appreciate all the advice for how I can meet her wants/needs of 2D space planning.

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I’ve found some YouTube videos that have been helpful, along with some of the advice here.

I understand 2D modeling is not SketchUp’s main goal and some of this is trying to find a square peg into a round hole. I’m just doing my best to meet my employers wants/needs and help the business become what she’s envisioning.


Mike Brightman used to have some good videos on drawing 2D plans directly in Layout but looks like he’s taken them down.

Judging by his promotional video for ConDoc2D -, ConDoc2D is more or less the same as his taken down Layout 2D plans videos.

Not suggesting you buy ConDoc2D - although you could take advantage of the 7 day trial which would give you a sense of how the workflow works.

As with all things it would necessitate you making a time investment…

Essentially the method leverages Scrapbooks and the Scaled Drawing feature.

Vote for 3D, even furniture has different spatial qualities that are ignored when you have only 2d representations… a bed is only 450mm above the floor, a table is 900 above the floor, but in 2d these visually look the same… you may have the experience to understand these spatial limitations of 2d, but I bet 99% of your clients don’t.

you can use simple 3d forms to represent furniture in 3d… I can fill a 500 apartment tower with beds,sofas, vanities, kitchens, wardrobes, tables without any lag issues…

working in 2d is like working with one hand tied behind your back… quite frankly in this day and age it is just not professional…

eg… 30 floor apartment tower , walls turned off so you can see the simple but dimensionally accurate furniture, designed so that when seen in plan view all edges have definition.

entire model 5.1Mb

Might also note how simple the tag/layer structure is

PS, when you design 500 rooms , you cannot afford to make a mistake as it will be repeated 500 times

and yep it got built

Here is a quick capture of the furniture set from this model if it helps to understand how simple space planning can be in 3d

furniture set.skp (442.1 KB)

PS note the lack of curved surfaces at this stage of the design - this was a “work in progress” model.


I do in SketchUp then LayOut, using VBO tag system and color by tag to fill color/texture instead using paint bucket.

My youtube video (there’re subtitle in English): SketchUp - Concept Template - YouTube
I send you our template for Concept (free)

This is a LayOut file, just open SketchUp model from this LayOut you will get template file.
Concept Template: Microsoft OneDrive - Access files anywhere. Create docs with free Office Online.


I’m going to oppose everyone here, and I’m definitely going to prove all wrong!

Layout is the bomb for space planning and you can export as a layered PDF that you can control in Indesign or Photoshop to add soft shadows, and never have to suffer the pixilation that is caused by importing a sketchup model!

I do all design work fast and rather accurately in Layout, and I do a vast amount of projects and as I don’t need to take them into SU, I save a bundle of time.

I’ll just post a bunch of images to prove my point!


Beautiful presentation…
Personally I can take your layout pdf into Powerpoint and do all that you do in Indesign and Photoshop for significantly cheaper software cost, avoid the ADOBE subscription regime and significantly more universally more accessible to all concerned :slight_smile:

Using PDF Xchange which retains all the vector elements from the PDF

Interested to see your process in Layout… certainly worth investigating

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And a few more examples for you of just how good layout is!