Space planning in 2D - sketchup or layout

Drop shadows and blur in Layout?

I’m guessing the blurred drop shadows are done outside of Layout…

Yeah for sure, there are likely a bunch of programs that can add shadows etc to a layered PDF, I only use Indesign as I often export documents set up for 4 colour (CMYK) print and some printers demand all fonts be outlined!

This video will give you an overview of how I work up a design in layout, mindful that I only ever do concepts, but these concepts vary in accuracy depending on the depth of the concept: Using the Form SipForm Layout Scrapbook - YouTube


The layered PDF is dragged into Indesign or other application, the base layer 1 on > copied / pasted, layer 1 off / layer 2 on shadow applied > copied / pasted etc!

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The other beauty is I can take a floor plan and drop in through a free PDF > SVG converter and use it on the web, creating crystal clear representations at any viewing resolution. And the file size is TINY!

See example: Narrow Two Storey Homes

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Everything said here.

Doing these sort of concepts in Sketchup 2D is way faster than doing them in Layout, even if you use Layout for the export of the 2D SU model.

Where Sketchup shines though is that after the concept stage, every other stage feels like working conceptually. With Layout, the best you can do is send to Sketchup or other software to keep developing the project.

I’ve seen people that do the same you do directly in Indesign, though mostly do it in CAD.

Anyway if you’re happy, that’s great! Visuals certainly look good!


Totally Agreed, I just need only SketchUp (and LayOut), no more. With 300 USD per year, a very reasonable price.
While working with SketchUp 2D at the very first (for Schematic Design) I can continute develope this model through out all processes. One model, from Schematic to Construction Documents only with SketchUp.

Mate, I’d have to argue against this comment! I’d imagine if you have a rough layout in mind then for sure SketchUp “may” be quicker (though I still do have doubts). My point is that LayOut as a design tool is a bundle quicker!

If we look at the design attached, which was made slightly more difficult as I was trying to get both homes sharing similar base layouts and the sites themselves added difficulty as only 247m2, this took 5 hours. And that was with no preconception of the layout, just the site sizes and known setbacks. But remember, all designs take testing, I had no concept of where stairs, kitchen, living, dining or bathrooms would or could fit - so included in that 5 hours was 2 other quite varied and near complete iterations.

Here is the gold with regards to designing with layout;
I can at any time just duplicate the page to test alternative iterations, and quickly flick between to see which iteration is preferred or to borrow sections of an earlier design (copy/paste). On some more difficult designs, I may end up with a dozen earlier tests!

Honestly, the time saved is seriously multiples on that taken to later model it up! If you have a quick look at this video, it will show you just how fast it is, 25 minutes to design a two bedroom granny flat; Using the Form SipForm Layout Scrapbook - YouTube This video was done for a client who designs places for clients, they suggest this method is saving their bacon!

Nice work, but I’d say it is somewhat limited for building development. For early studies that looks great, but the obvious advantage of a single 3D model generating plans, roof plans sections, elevations, RCP etc. will be far faster overall. Especially come revision time, you can’t even come close to drawing production with everything drawn in LO.

I’m not knocking your work at all, it’s very nice.

There are so many aspects of a design that can affect a layout like your granny flat. Without studying site topography, massing and roof lines you can end up pigeon holing yourself into a design that may not work so well in reality.


@Sonder Mate, having met you in Sydney, I know we are of similar vintage. Once we both designed by hand, we know when working in simple 2D we are applying our mind to the 3rd dimension, it’s not just our vintage that can apply this principle surely!

All that said, like you, I work on some seriously sloping sites, for these I’ll test a massing in SketchUp and then finalise the layout in LayOut and export / insert back into sketchup to model!

And all that said (again), I’ve seen and have total admiration for your work, and can certainly see why working in 3D for you is pretty much vital! Though for the other 99%, not being tool agnostic can save time, and I solemnly believe, can lead to better design outcomes. The ability to rather rapidly test design iterations is a massive bonus! The way I work in LayOut and within SketchUp itself (modelling from primaries in lieu of drawn geometry) is non-destructive and thus is quick and infinitely editable.

Regarding revisions, this doesn’t really factor in, as the Layout design work is just a burner! It is just utilised to generate conceptual ideas ultra fast. Though if needed revisions to what is pretty much my pencil sketch (just done much faster), may at best take 2-3 minutes!

Honestly, having done both ways (floor plan design in layout and sketchup 2D), using layout my time saving would be, I’d estimate, around 45-50 minutes in the hour, but only if I’d preconceived my design, otherwise I’d suggest around 55 minutes in the hour! Sure I then have to model it up at a cost but my initial design saved so much time, you could say this bit attributes about 10 minutes of that hour, so my time saving is probably a day in a two day job! Do I ever deliver a job in a day, never. I iterate and iterate and iterate until the project is in my mind, perfect!


Really nice video Richard… deserves more views and I can understand how you have optimised LO very efficiently to meet your needs…

comparing LO with Powerpoint

LO has the advantage of Layers, dimensioning tools and scrapbook access
Powerpoint has the advantage of universal access and better graphics capabilities
horses for courses!

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The big benefit of working in LayOut, is as your suggest the layers, dimensions and the scrapbook, but more so the ability to export DWG and import to sketchup to quickly model up from!

I have seen the video and the pictures you sent above. I respect and admire the way you use LayOut,

I did another video that repeats your design but instead of using LayOut (credit to you in video’s description), I use SketchUp. I just wanted to show how I’ve used SketchUp to do the same thing as you but with better performance I suppose (with the help of simple, free plugins). With these, I not only shortened the time, but also took advantage of the resources to continue developing for the next stages and did not need to use any other software.

The video here: SketchUp - Drawing a 2D plan - YouTube

The important thing is that I’ve created templates to do this (both SketchUp and LayOut) with new projects, I or my staff just need to draw on them and relink in LayOut.

P/S: While exporting from SketchUp to DWG (3d Model options) far more better than LayOut. It maintains full layers (tags), color by layer, component name… in DWG format.

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@Cyentruk, wow, that’s actually rather cool, in fact very cool! Albeit, you are copying in lieu of designing, but still you continually need to reference the original design so time in out is made pretty much null!

I’m half gulping for air here, but again would reiterate, the beauty in LayOut is the ability to duplicate a page and create iterations of a design that can be instantly flicked between, for me this is the biggest win in the use of Layout! In either way, we can see the time taken to design in 2D, again with acknowledgement to @Sonder, if we stay mindful of the 3rd dimension (certainly easier in your example, assuming if you oribit your view, or drag up components) there are time savings to be had!

Well done on you for presenting this! It may help all a bundle!

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When insert SketchUp model into LayOut, you can copy viewport or duplicate a page then change scene or simply pick another style (SketchUp styles)

One model, change between 4 presentation styles in second.

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@Cyentruk, mate how do you go working between floors (assuming a 2 storey residence), for example in layout I just drop in a semi transparent object to cover the lower floor and then compile over that. I copy and paste key walls from the lower level and paste to the upper level layer.

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I have a tag system like image below, just create scene for each floor plan, assign floors (group all entities of a floor into a group) to their tag level then turn on/off tags between scenes. Then you just switch scenes in LayOut.

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I love the duplicate page idea. It’s rather cool and very simple. I see how that can be a blessing. Doing the same with layers and scenes is not as simple though it’s still effective.

As for all the rest, @Cyentruk put most of it out there with his method which is mostly the same as mine, though I don’t use so much ready made stuff. (I may loose some time because of that but it’s not important for me as that is being compensated by better design tools and plugins.

I’ll just mention a few more points.

Split faces with any geometry. For area and material changes. If you need to retrieve areas you can do it in SketchUp.If you need to paint materials, or use textures it’s also easier.

If you need to import and manipulate a DWG as reference for design (a survey for instance) it’s a zip in SketchUp and takes ages in Layout.

If you need to get off those rectangular shapes and do diagonals or curves its also great with SketchUp.

You always work at 1:1 scale and change scales in layout easier.

Or you can export a pdf, image or DWG from SketchUp.

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I notice in the Drawing a 2D plan video you are using LA - Quicktag.

This looks like and updated version of Curic’s LA extension…?

If so, where can we get this or are you using a pre-release version?