Switching from Archicad to SU

Sketchup noobie here and long time Archicad (AC) user - originally for work and now as a freelancer

i primarily design and need a quick way to create construction drawings. AC does all this of course but it’s clunky in the several areas, though it’s very fast in others

currently looking into whether SU can do what i need faster

one immediate area i’m struggling with is controlling the look of the model in different views

e.g. in AC I can assign different rendering style to a Wall item depending on whether the wall is viewed in 3D, plan view, elevation or section

so in 3D view I can apply a regular textured material, in plan view a diagonal hatch, in elevation a brick hatch, and in section a dotted hatch

when i save a view and place it on a layout, AC will apply the texture or hatch as needed automatically.
similar situation with line types and weights

is it possible to do something similar in SU?

my fear is that with SU i’d be gaining some flexibility in modelling only to lose any time gained messing around with construction drawings…

or are there plugins that will take care of this? was looking at Skalp but seems quite old and only for sections?

Yes, SketchUp can.

First, you should find out how style works, special in “color by tag” mode. This helps you control visibility of faces, edges seperate with “color by material”.
Another plugin help create hatches for section is Curic Section.

Funny, long time CAD & sketchup user, getting exhausted drawing everything twice and considering changing to Archicad. But relearning all my design & production methods seems overwhelming.

For sketchup, keep in mind you either have materials painted to faces, or to a group/component. There are no ‘smarts’ to sketchup. Your description of a ‘wall item’ that has different representations in 3d/plan/elevation/section is not a singular sketchup object. The elevation faces have a material that would typically look the same in 3d & elevation (for sketchup this is the same). For plans, using section planes to cut the model, as Cyentruk says, there are extensions for this to generate a pattern fill.

For design presentations with variations on materials, I cobbled together a ruby script that replaces materials using a signifier in scene tab name. Something like this could be used to swap out materials between views. For example these three views were generated from same model swapping out materials and variation on railing.

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Archicad and Revit are capable applications but perhaps overkill for small projects and clumsy for “sketching”, general 3D modelling or product design type tasks. I find them indispensable for any building projects that need schedules and to keep more than a few documents up to date. And both have teamwork capabilities. Both have features that I love or hate, for instance, the Archicad interface is only matched by Blender in confusing complexity - our team members have many years experience in it but we still have “how do I do this” discussions about tasks that should be simple.

Hey man, have you ever try using tag and “color by tag” mode?

Here is some drawings of mine for a large project, 100% SketchUp only. No need drawing everything twice.

9 images above created by switch between styles in 1 miliseconds.


With Trimble Connect, SketchUp has the ability to work collaboratively very well, especially with the “Import Visual Reference Model” feature that works similarly to the “Attachment Overlay” feature in AutoCad. Thanks to this feature, models can refer to each other for drawing, but not actually “own” them in the model.

On the project, our MEP partner using Revit, while Structural using AutoCAD (we, SketchUp). Co-working in Trimble Connect.


Cyentruk - I do use “color by tag”, but primarily for editing to confirm tagging/layering is correct. I did not know it also allows using different textures. That may be enough for the original poster if they only need two representations. (“color by tag” or color by applied material). For my presentations we might have three material palettes with different combinations of materials that we want to present to the client. And I don’t know another method other than duplicating geometry on different tags, or my cludgy ruby script that swaps materials.

Examples of different style usage:

Presentation view with color by materials

Modeling structure “color by tag”

Structure shown in presentation with applied transparent red material to help identify conflicts better. (Finish “skin” turned off)

Is Trimble Connect available with Pro or only Studio? The compare features page seems to be missing the comparison…

Hi Cyentruk

Can you let me know how you are getting your section cut hatch patterns please?

Cheers, Kevin

Hi, SketchUp allow you to use texture in tags, that’s the primary key for making construction drawings. One model, you can assign material to faces for rendering but their faces could be display follow tag 's texture even in hidden line mode.

Trimble Connect is free 10 GB cloud storage, create max 1 Project, invitted max 5 projects for every one has trimble connect/sketchup user. Unlimited for Pro/Studio subcribers.

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Just simple, section cut is a group of faces, each faces has assign different tags, each tags has its own texture. And textures are hatches.

We can totally manual create those faces from section cut by right click then context menu “Create group from slide” but with plugin will make our life easier because ability of auto update when design changed. There are Curic Section and Skalp. I’m using Curic Section


I do all of my sections with ‘Create Group from Slice’ which takes me ages as I explode them, then create faces and colour them.

I have read conflicting reviews of Skalp & Curic Section. Presumably you are happy with Curic Section? I did download a trial of Skalp but I couldn’t get it to work. I would purchase in a heartbeat if I could get it to work reliably.

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Curic Section has 2 versions: one free and one paid.
You could try free version named “Curic Section Lite” (find in Extension Warehouse) but this version not support create hatch pattern by tags.

I used Curic Section and understand it clearly.


To be honest I don’t need hatched sections - just the ability to colour sectioned faces reliably.

I will try Curic Section Lite.

Thanks again,

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thanks everyone for the replies. i think the only way i’m gonna find out is by doing an actual project in SU

switching would be painful for sure and i’m not convinced that certain tasks that are completed automatically in AC wouldn’t take a long time to do manually in SU

i like to spend my time designing, not doing tedious repetitive technical tasks (such as duplicating stuff to make a hatch or change pen color) so whether this ‘color by tag’ will do what i need is something i will look into

so what are the main plugins that are used to build house models? the best window/door builders, stairs, roofs and so on?

i agree with Anssi, AC can be overkill but i use the Solo version as i work alone and any files i do need to share i usually just output a DWG or PDF for 2D or i’ve been asked a couple of times to export a SU file - something that AC so far has done very well

i use MODO to model anything more organic or high poly, though to get those into AC isn’t straightforward, hence why i’m looking to simplify my workflow and do everything in SU

thanks i’ll look into this

one thing i want to avoid like the plague is doing things twice (or more)

this just leads to frustration, time wasting and errors

AC is a no brainer if you do a lot of construction documentation. it’s easy to override the look of 2d plans, elevations and sections with hatches, alternative colours and so on

there are lots of tools to build key components, and these can be changed at any time. all of them need time to learn though, and it can be frustrating at times as some of the newer tools especially (railing for example) still need work

3d modelling is where AC is most lacking, though there have been improvements in the last few years but it’s still very clunky compared to MODO/Blender/SU and so on

but if you build regular houses AC is very fast

i’m doing a lot of exterior design these days - pools, pool houses, hard and soft landscaping - so am needing to do more and more work outside AC

Hi, I made a set of tutorial about Style in SketchUp, hope this can help.

PDF: https://1drv.ms/b/s!At_d8FayncE0iop2mfgmXk4a6FAOFQ?e=P0QFDB


this is fantastic - thank you Cyentruk

i had picked up most of it myself but hadn’t yet realised you can assign textures and hatches to tags - makes all the difference

thanks again - i saved the PDF for reference

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5 years after going this way (Autocad+Sketchup to Archicad) I can tell you once, working with Archicad is exhausting as well!
And I’m talking about a 30 people office, where “there wasn’t another option” (that’s what they said).
My advice to you is, to take a closer look before investing too much time and money on that. Obviously AC is a big gain in terms of organization out of the box, and some other stuff. But you are gonna lose tons of flexibility.
Anyway, good luck!

i’m doing the opposite though - currently an Archicad user, looking to switch to Sketchup - or at least i’m considering it