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Drafting in LayOut 3

LayOut 3 (which is part of SketchUp Pro 8) contains a ton of fixes, improvements and other tweaks that make it something you should definitely check out. If you’re already using LayOut 2, the upgrade is a no-brainer; if you’re not a LayOut user yet, it’s probably time to download a trial of SketchUp Pro 8 and take it for a spin.

We introduced four major new features in LayOut 3; they’re intended to make it even easier for you to take care of some (or even all) of your 2D documentation work in SketchUp Pro:

Angular Dimensions

When we introduced regular ol’ linear dimensions in LayOut 2.1 last year, plenty of folks told us they were very, very happy. Being able to dimension orthographic views of their SketchUp models in LayOut meant not having to export to CAD every time they needed a scaled, dimensioned drawing. Neverless, one big thing was missing: being able to annotate angular dimensions.

Using LayOut 3’s new Angular Dimension tool is a five-click procedure. Your first two clicks indicate the direction of the first line; your next two clicks indicate the direction of the second. Your fifth click positions the actual annotation on the page. It’s a flexible system that’s designed to accommodate all kinds of different situations.

Precise Move

One the surface, this feature seems kind of simple; just reposition an object’s center point to give it a custom inference location. In actuality, we created Precise Move in response to a very important – and extremely common – feature request: the ability to more easily position placed SketchUp model views relative to one another on the page.

A bit of background: When we added dimensioning in LayOut 2.1, we also added a nifty little feature called Snap to Point. It let your cursor “see” inference points on placed SketchUp models. All of a sudden, you could snap to endpoints (and other inferences), which in turn made it possible to use your SketchUp model views as the basis for 2D drawings. Dimensioning and Snap to Point made it possible to do 2D drafting in LayOut.

Precise Move (which is new for LayOut 3) makes it possible to take advantage of Snap to Point to, say, line up a plan view with an elevation on the same page. It’s a small thing, but you’ll use it every time you use LayOut to create a set of drawings. Take a look at the video above to see exactly what I’m talking about.

Custom Line Styles

Instead of just adding dozens of new dashed line styles to the menu of ones that are available in the Shape Style dialog box, we figured out a way to let you create what you need with a combination of three simple settings:

  • Stroke Width: Determines the thickness of the line in pixels.
  • Dash Pattern: Lets you choose a basic pattern to begin with. Examples are Dash-Dash; Dot-Dot; Dash-Dot; Dash-Dot-Dot — you get the idea. LayOut 3 comes with a dozen basic Dash Patterns you can choose from.
  • Dashes Scale: By changing the Dashes Scale, you’re changing the length of the dashes, which automatically changes the amount of space there is between them. Each of the dozen Dash Patterns in LayOut 3 has a preset ratio that determines the amount of space between its dashes (or dots.) For example, choosing a setting of 0.5 x shortens the dashes -- and the spaces between them -- to one-half their original length.

CAD Export

You’ve always been able to export a LayOut drawing as a PDF; we added raster export (in the form of PNG and JPG) in LayOut 2. For this version, we decided to throw in DXF/DWG 2010. Lines in placed SketchUp model views that are rendered in Hybrid or Vector mode will export as fully-editable vector geometry. For those who need to generate CAD files for other members of their team, or who might like to add LayOut drafting to their existing multi-tool workflow, this one’s huge.

Feel free to download a trial version of SketchUp Pro 8 (which includes LayOut 3 and scads of other features) from our website.