The right way to draw in SketchUp..?

As I have a background in Microstation and/ or Autocad, I’m sure that, like many other folk here, I’m not drawing things the proper SketchUp way… An example is a door component I’ve made and use a lot - I drew all the lines of the door leaf on a layer I called Door Closed, and made a group on that layer. I then copied the leaf, rotated it through 90 degrees, opened the group and selected all the lines and changed them to my Door Open layer. I then made a layer called Door Frame, drew the frame lines on that layer, and dropped the Door Open and Door Closed groups into it. So now I can turn off doors altogether by turning off Door Frame, or I can turn on the Door Open layer in the plan views, and in the elevations I turn on the Door Closed layer.
Sorry to be long winded, but I understand that’s not the SketchUp way… what should I do and why is my method wrong?

The first thing you need to get your head around is layer usage in SketchUp.

You should be leaving Layer 0 active at all times. Draw the geometry with the Layer 0 association and leave it there.

After you make the group containing the door geometry, change its layer association to Door Closed. Leave the edges and faces with the Layer 0 tag.

Your process for getting the door open state is complicated and prone to error. Instead, Rotate/Copy the door group and then assign the Door Open layer tag to the second copy.

Then you can show the door opened or closed as desired by controlling the layer visibility.

The door frame geometry should also have the Layer 0 tag but the door frame group can be assigned the Door Frame layer tag.

Leaving Layer 0 as the active layer and keeping the Layer 0 tag for all edges and faces is important. It makes modeling easier because you are never chasing layers. It also prevents errors that are commonly seen when people don’t follow that rule. The most common problem users create for themselves when they assign other layer tags to raw geometry is they forget to keep up and edit a group or component with the wrong layer active. Then when they start changing layer visibility, parts of their model start to disappear that they want to keep visible.

Also, instead of making a group of the door and frame, I’d make components. Then, if you decide to modify the door, both the closed and open copies will get the same modification. This means less work and less chance to end up with two different doors. And if you are using the door in subsequent models, it can be saved into a local “Door” collection for easy access later.


I’ll second what @DaveR said.

I never draw on any other layer than Layer 0, (even when using the Dashed Line linetype, thanks to an excellent tutorial session and support by @DaveR). I immediately Component or Group the geometry, then I assign a Layer to that Group.

I learnt and used AutoCAD for work in the past, for a good few years, and I find the Sketchup approach so much easier and more intuitive. The amount of times I’d spend ages drawing something in AutoCAD before I realised I was on the wrong layer, was rediculous.