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Getting a better view of small interior spaces

When you’re modeling a small room, it can be a pain to see what’s inside. The problem is that the walls and ceiling get in the way. One solution is to lop off the ceiling and work in a top view, dollhouse-style. Other folks set up scenes from the interior corners and adjust their Field of View to something super-wide like 90 degrees.

better view of small interior spaces
Looking at a small interior space from the outside isn't very rewarding.
better view of small interior spaces
Deleting the ceiling and switching to a top view is useful, but fiddly.
corner and making Field of View
Standing in the corner and making your Field of View really wide is just weird. What are you—a housefly?

Both of the above techniques work—to a point. Personally, I think it’s like trying to read a book through a keyhole. By far my favorite method for working on small interiors is to make use of SketchUp’s ability to have faces with different materials on each side:

The face separating Susan and Sang
The face separating Susan and Sang is yellow on one side and green on the other.

 painting the green side makes it see-through

Creating a completely transparent material and painting the green side makes it see-through.Entity Info dialog box
The Entity Info dialog box shows that the selected face is yellow on the front and see-through on the back.

By painting the outward-facing surfaces with a see-through material—one whose opacity is set to 0%—I can see in from the outside. Super useful, super simple.

outward-facing surfaces with a transparent material
Here, I painted all of the outward-facing surfaces with a transparent material. Notice that the interior surfaces still look opaque?
Orbiting model
Orbiting around my model, I can see through all of the walls. I can even see through the floor.

About the Author

Aidan was a beloved member of the SketchUp team for 10 years. He birthed this blog, taught countless SketchUp classes, authored the SketchUp For Dummies book, and is a jolly fellow indeed. If you'd like to learn a little more about Aidan and his new endeavor, check out Bitsbox.

Profile Photo of Aidan Chopra