LayOut is SketchUp’s 2D documentation tool, specifically designed to integrate into your SketchUp workflow. This tutorial breaks down getting started with LayOut and creating a 2D plan drawing.
Turn 3D into 2D in no time with LayOut.
At SketchUp, we love 3D visualizations and the energy that comes from presenting 3D renderings or zooming around a SketchUp model live with a client. Where 3D is the universal language for concept design and easy collaboration, clear, information-rich documentation is where the hype and the vision officially begin the transition to reality. This quick primer will give you the basics for getting into LayOut, tips to optimize your SketchUp model and streamline the documentation process, and a brief guide for creating a plan drawing sheet using LayOut.
Note: if you’re already familiar with LayOut and are here for the tips to prep your 3D model and create drawing sheets, you can skip ahead to the Planning Ahead or Breeze into LayOut sections below.
2D drawings pack loads of critical information into an easily-digestible format and ensure everyone on the project has what they need to start construction.
Finished plan drawing sheet in LayOut
Built to integrate with your SketchUp workflow, LayOut makes creating 2D documentation from your 3D model a breeze. It’s purpose-built to create documentation from your SketchUp model, but it isn’t limited to 2D. LayOut combines features found in desktop publishing and CAD software, making it a great tool to build presentations, print drawing sets, and share conceptual ideas at any stage of the project. In addition to 2D plans, sections, and detail drawings, LayOut documents can also include 3D views, mood boards, and inspirational photos.
What to expect
Default templates available in LayOut
Starting a new document
When you first open LayOut, or any time you start a new document, you’ll be prompted to start from one of the included templates. These ready-to-use templates include standard sheet sizes and options to add gridlines or title blocks. Getting started is as easy as selecting the right size sheet. If you don’t see the one you’re looking for, choose any template and navigate to “File > Document Setup.” You can change your document settings — drawing units, sheet size, grid appearance, precision, etc. — anytime.
Creating a template
Document Setup interface in LayOut
When creating a plan in LayOut, make your own templates so you don’t need to manually adjust settings each time you start a new document. Once you fine-tune your settings, select “File > Save as template” to have this as a starting point. These can be found under "My Templates" in the initial document creation.
If you often use the same sheet size or document setup, set a default template to automatically open with your preferred settings when you start a new LayOut document. You can revert away from this setting if you decide you want to see the prompt again each time.
Navigation in LayOut is slightly different from what you’re used to in SketchUp. Some tools act similar to SketchUp, while others feel more like desktop publishing or drafting program controls. Navigate more precisely in LayOut with a three-button mouse; the scroll wheel zooms in and out and the scroll wheel button pans across your drawing sheets. Customize both mouse and keyboard shortcuts from the preferences menu to tailor the program to your workflow.
LayOut menu interface
There are a few handy features worth pointing out right off the bat. Icons on the right side of the top navigation toolbar — — can be used to add pages, navigate from one page to the next, or start a presentation using your document. After creating a plan and building out your full drawing set, these icons smooth out navigation in LayOut and presenting to clients. A series of menus on the right side of the screen give you tools for dialing in your document and drawing settings, including:
- SketchUp Model: select the scene you want to show in your viewport, define the drawing scale, and choose which styles and tags are displayed.
- Pages: add, delete, copy, and arrange different pages within your LayOut document.
- Layers: assign drawings, titles, and annotations to different layers to fine-tune what’s visible and how everything is ordered on each sheet
For a closer look at how to get started with LayOut, follow along with this SketchUp Skill Builder.
Planning ahead in SketchUp
While making a floorplan in LayOut can be as simple as creating a section cut in your SketchUp model and clicking “Send to LayOut,” there are a few things to consider before moving into LayOut that will make your life much easier. LayOut and SketchUp work hand-in-hand, but each does its own thing very well. LayOut’s real strengths are in creating and organizing 2D assets that sit on top of your model, like title blocks and annotations.
It’s good practice to think about doing ‘SketchUp stuff’ in SketchUp and ‘LayOut stuff’ in LayOut. While you can manipulate models and toggle tags off and on in LayOut, it’s much easier and improves performance if you set those details in SketchUp.
Scenes menu in SketchUp — 3D model by John Luttropp, available on 3D Warehouse
You can save all the views you want to show in your drawing set as scenes in your SketchUp model. Once in LayOut, select the scene you want to show on each drawing sheet, and voila; it’s already set. Each scene preserves which tags are visible and the style you’ve defined for that scene. Typical scenes (or typical documentation drawings) will include plans, sections, and elevations. Save 3D views of your model to include in your presentation set in LayOut. Open the scene manager by selecting Window > Scenes from the top menu bar.
Styles menu interface and active section plane in SketchUp — 3D model by John Luttropp, available on 3D Warehouse
Creating a plan view and creating sections in LayOut are essentially the same, both done using the Section Plane tool. Section planes cut through the model to show a cross-section of the walls and spaces within. Select the Section Plane tool — — and click on a face in the model to orient the section cut. Use the Move tool to shift the planes up and down or side to side. Manage section plane visibility and whether the active cut is on or off in the Styles menu.
Pro tip: add all of your section planes before you save any scenes. Section planes added after you define a scene will show up in each previous scene; you’ll need to go back and hide the section plane and update each scene you’ve already created. Avoid that potential rework by creating all the sections you’ll need before saving scenes.
Styles dictate how your model looks. Do you want to see materials, shaded objects, or all grayscale linework? Use styles to define the appearance of edges, section fills, colors, and materials. SketchUp provides a wide array of default styles to meet the goals of your drawings. Style choices are preserved scene by scene. Once you define a style and save a scene, your model will revert back to that style each time you navigate back to that scene.
Tags & tag folders
Tags menu in SketchUp — 3D model by John Luttropp, available on 3D Warehouse
Tags let you easily turn SketchUp geometries on or off depending on what you want to show in your 2D drawings. You can assign similar groups or components to a certain tag to hide or show everything with that tag in a single click. A good example is furniture in the model. You may want to show furniture in certain floor plans but not in your sections. No problem! When creating a plan scene, leave the furniture tag visible. When you’re ready to define your section scene, simply toggle the furniture tag off before saving that scene.
For an in-depth look at prepping your model for LayOut, check out this SketchUp Skill Builder on YouTube.
Create a floorplan scene
Plan view of a 3D model in SketchUp — model by John Luttropp, available on 3D Warehouse
With all the prep work done and a professionally organized model to work with, you’re ready to create a plan scene.
- In the Camera menu, select “parallel projection.” SketchUp will be set to “perspective” as the default.
- Select “top” from the standard views menu, also in the Camera menu.
- If you created your first-floor section plane already, make that the active section cut. If not, create that section now, cutting horizontally through the model and looking down, and position it to view the first floor of the model. A typical floor plan is drawn with the section plane at 4’ above the floor.
Note: manage your section cuts in the Styles menu. In your 2D documentation, you likely won’t want to see the section plane, but when working with the model, it can be helpful to see the exact position you’re cutting through in the model.
- Define the style. Don’t forget you can define the section fill as well. This lets you choose a consistent poché color where you’re cutting through walls or other objects.
- If you’re happy with the view you’re looking at, it’s time to create a scene. Open the Scenes window and click the plus icon to add the scene. You’ll see that just below the top toolbar a new button appears that says Scene 1. Right-click to rename it something like “First Floor Plan” or “Floor Plan 01.”
Pro tip: the scene description is pulled from SketchUp to populate some drawing annotations and titles in LayOut automatically. Different from the scene name, you can update the scene description in the details in the Scenes menu.
If you’re going to continue adding scenes before working in LayOut, you can now go back to working with the model, change styles, toggle section cuts and planes off or on, etc. Business as usual but when you click the scene tab at the top of your model window, it will bring you right back to this view, preserving the style and section planes you’ve defined.
Breeze into LayOut
With your scenes saved, the transition from SketchUp to LayOut is a snap. If you created your LayOut document from a template as described above, now’s the time to navigate to that document. Once in LayOut, select File > Insert and choose your SketchUp model from the dialog. This will automatically bring your model in at your last-saved view.
Multiple viewports on one drawing sheet in LayOut
What you see in LayOut is your SketchUp model within what’s called a viewport. The viewport exists in 2D space on the drawing sheet. Moving the edges of the viewport will resize the viewport on the sheet and can be done to crop your model view. Resizing the viewport will change the scale of your drawing unless you check the box next to “Preserve Scale on Resize” in the SketchUp Model window.
Choosing the view and scale
Use the SketchUp Model menu in LayOut to define viewport settings.
Use the SketchUp Model menu within LayOut to manage some of the most important drawing and viewport settings, including the view of the model (Scene) and the drawing scale. Scene and scale can both be defined using the dropdowns in this menu.
- From the Scene dropdown, select the “First Floor Plan” scene or any other scene you’ve created.
- Scale works the same way. Find the dropdown, and choose your preferred drawing scale from a variety of standard architectural and engineering options.
Note: in the image above, the boxes next to “Ortho” and “Preserve Scale on Resize” are both checked. You can only define the drawing scale when Ortho is toggled on. “Preserve Scale on Resize” lets you change the size of your viewport without impacting the drawing scale you set.
In addition to the SketchUp Model menu, Scene, Scale, and a host of other viewport settings can also be accessed by right-clicking the viewport.
What if I just need a quick plan?
Simple plan sheet in LayOut — SketchUp model by John Luttropp, available on 3D Warehouse
Above, I mentioned that creating a plan in LayOut can be as simple as adding a section cut in your SketchUp model and clicking “Send to LayOut.” And that’s true. If you just need a single drawing sheet in LayOut, there is a shortcut.
- Navigate within SketchUp to the view you want to put on a drawing sheet
- Save the model, then select File > Send to LayOut. This will start a new LayOut document and automatically include your model view within a viewport on the new sheet.
- For a plan view, follow the first four steps above for creating a plan scene, then save the model and send to LayOut.
This is handy for starting a new LayOut file if you haven’t created one. It brings the last-saved view of your SketchUp model into LayOut and puts it on a drawing sheet for you. Adjust settings like page size or units in the Document Setup menu. This is great for a single drawing or just one documentation sheet. It really can't be stressed enough; if you plan to build out a full drawing set, it will save a lot of time and potential headaches to save Scenes and define Styles in SketchUp first.
LayOut is a standalone program that comes bundled with Pro and Studio subscriptions. For a comprehensive course to learn the ins and outs of LayOut, take the LayOut Essentials and LayOut Design Package courses available for free at SketchUp Campus. Download a free trial to try out your own LayOut documentation workflow.