Communicating Your Designs in SketchUp

SketchUp’s 3D modelling software is robust yet simple to use. And thanks to a wealth of clever features, it’s even easier than you think to share your design ideas with other people. 

Whether you want to slice your 3D creations and share cross-sections of key aspects or offer your audience animated scenes from every angle, it’s up to you. Share your SketchUp model your way. 

Add shadows to showcase your ideas at distinct times of day. Or perhaps view your project on Google Earth to truly bring your creation to life.

Need to document your design elements?

LayOut with SketchUp Pro lets you create presentations using your designs with added extras to give documents a professional and branded feel. Add your own images, text, labels and more.

And the best way to store and share these files is via Trimble Connect.

Take advantage of the Trimble Connect for Business capability when you sign up for a SketchUp subscription. Storing your files online and auto-syncing them between devices is fast and secure. And you can even view and recover previous file versions and gain access to a host of additional project management tools too.

This guide will not only show you how to share a SketchUp model with your clients but also highlight some of the visual options you have at your fingertips as a SketchUp user. 

  • Sending a SketchUp model to LayOut
  • Using Trimble Connect with SketchUp
  • Slicing a model to peer inside
  • Walking through a model
  • Creating scenes
  • Animating scenes
  • Casting real-world shadows
  • Using the credits feature
  • Watermarking a model
  • Printing views of a model in Microsoft Windows & Mac OS X
  • 3D printing a model
  • Viewing your model in Google Earth

Sending a SketchUp Model to LayOut

Sending a SketchUp model to LayOut is easy. Simply click on the ‘Send to LayOut’ button on the Large Tool Set or Getting Started toolbars. But knowing how to make the most of the fantastic set of tools when you’re there is key to documenting your ideas perfectly.


3D models are amazing reproductions of your architectural visions, but they aren’t much use to a building contractor waiting to lay the foundations. Orthographic projections get your ideas across in an accurate and functional way. 


2D CAD drawings, elevations and floor plans are necessary for mapping out the exact footprint of a building design. And that’s where LayOut comes in.


But before sending your 3D models across to LayOut, you need to be sure to create your scenes first. SketchUp and Layout files link seamlessly to automatically update the designs. Setting specific scenes lets LayOut show you exactly what you want to see rather than the last saved version from your model.


After creating your scenes and sending a SketchUp model to LayOut, you can now input as many viewports as you need to showcase the design from various angles. Then it’s time to dimension and document the drawings.


LayOut’s documentation tools allow you to produce 2D plans based on the original design. From here, you’re able to produce a set of precise construction drawings that you can save and share with those who need them.


Any changes that you make to the original design are quickly applied to the 2D plans. Your clients can then access these updates as soon as you’re finished making the necessary adjustments.

Using Trimble Connect with SketchUp

Sharing your SketchUp model changes is fundamental to keeping all parties in the loop. And with Trimble Connect you can achieve this effortlessly.

This functionality comes with a paid SketchUp subscription and opens the door to a world of collaboration opportunities.

  • Save and store an unlimited number of creations and associated files
  • Share updated designs through the open BIM viewer
  • Grant teams access auto-sync data any time, any place
  • Recover previous file versions
  • And more…

How to sign in to the Trimble Connect website

Using Trimble Connect with SketchUp allows you to manage your designs in a simple yet productive way. And it all happens through the Trimble Connect Website.

The site stores all of your files on the cloud and gives you and other linked collaborators access whenever you need it. It’s available for Mac and Windows and is compatible with their mobile operating systems and Android too.  

Signing into this common data environment is easy. Simply head to the Trimble Connect site and enter your subscription email address and password. 

Once you’ve accessed your account, you can add your projects and begin. Select the subscription from the drop-down menu to grant access to the full range of tools and give your project a name. You can now start to add the files that you wish to share and publish your models using the Trimble Connect extension in SketchUp.

The Trimble Connect 2.0 extension

In SketchUp, head up to the main menu bar at the top of the screen and click File. At the bottom of the drop-down list, you’ll see the expandable Trimble Connect options. These include Open Model, Collaboration Manager, Publish Model, Publish As, Import Reference Model and Launch Trimble Connect.

Open Model 

This is where you can open any existing SketchUp files stored on Trimble Connect. Each file opens in a separate model window for you to view.

Collaboration Manager

Once you’ve opened your model file, you can now begin to collaborate with other users. Assign them tasks, control your ‘to do’ list, respond to comments and update reference models as well as open a Trimble Connect pane within SketchUp.

Publish Model

To share a SketchUp model, you can add it to an existing project over on Trimble Connect. Details of the new model are now available for collaborators to view and work with.

Publish As

In much the same way as a ‘Save As’ command, you can save your SketchUp files with a new name or add them to another folder.

Import Reference Model

Importing multiple files to use as a reference in an open model file is simple in the following formats:

  • .skp
  • .ifc
  • .dwg
  • .dxf

Other members collaborating on the project can work on their own design files and integrate them into a master drawing set. Any updates to those files can then be viewed within the main file by simply updating each added element.

Launch Trimble Connect

You can open the Trimble Connect web app directly with this option. From here, you can complete any necessary tasks and adjust any of the configurations as needed.

The Trimble Sync facility

Trimble Sync lets you keep your PC, laptop and mobile constantly updated with the latest project info—giving you complete access to real-time project info. Simply log in on another compatible device and pick up where you left off.

Slicing a Model to Peer Inside

Section planes in SketchUp make slicing a model to peer inside extremely simple to achieve. Planimetric views, either horizontally or vertically, give you visual access to floor plans and sectional views of multiple floors at the same time.

How to add a section plane

The first step is to deselect all other areas of the model to ensure that you aren’t working on the wrong area. Next, open the object that you wish to slice and input any height measurements for your plane.

Select tools from the menu bar and select the Section Plane tool. Or go straight to the icon on the Tool Set palette if you’re a Windows or Mac user.

Using the plane cursor, select the face where you wish to create the slice. Your section plane will appear along with a dialog box for you to name the section.

Finally, you can make any necessary adjustments to your plane by changing the placement, reversing the cut direction or aligning the camera view. You can also select an active cut if multiple planes are present and hide/show planes as needed.

How to fill voids in section cuts

Depending on the type of object that you choose to slice, your cut may result in open voids appearing. To fill these voids in a closed loop, you can open the Styles panel, click on the Edit tab, select Modelling Settings, and check the Section Fill box. You can also change the fill colour if required.

How to create a new geometry from a section plane

To create a new geometry from a new section plane, simply context-click on the section plane and select Create Group from Slice. You can now move that group to where you need it in your model.

You can also divide your model by exploding the group.

How to hide section planes and cuts

SketchUp comes complete with a versatile set of controls to adjust the visibility of a plane and cut independently. It’s possible to:

  • Hide a single section plane by right-clicking on the section plane and select ‘Hide’
  • Hide all section planes by clicking the Display Section Planes tool
  • Hide all section cuts with a click on the Display Section Cuts tool

How to export section cut effects

Showcasing and sharing your section cuts is possible with both SketchUp Make and Pro versions. But with SketchUp Pro, you can also export a 2D vector image known as a Section Slice.

You can use these 2D slices to create scaled drawings and edit them in other programs that work with vectorised images.

To do this, select the appropriate plane and head to the following: File > Export > Section Slice.

Now all you need to do is select the folder where you want to save the file, give it a name and click on ‘Export’.

Walking Through a Model

Getting up close and personal with your designs is the only way to check every intricate part of your model. Browsing an image from afar gives you a great idea of how it all feels in general. But you need access to all areas to give you complete confidence in the final product.


Walking through a model using a few of SketchUp’s additional tools will open the door to your design and let you step inside.

Methods for positioning cameras

You can choose to view your work from specific points by simply changing the camera position. Using the Position Camera tool will initially place the camera 5’ 6″ above where you click. After that, you can adjust the eye height to view from a different perspective.


To make this happen, choose the Position Camera tool from the toolbar, click and hold where you wish to place the camera and drag the cursor to the point that you would like to view. To adjust the camera height, just enter the figure in the Eye Height box.

How to use the look around tool

After positioning the SketchUp camera, you will automatically trigger the Look Around tool.


You will now begin to view your model from the preset height. Make your height adjustments as necessary and bear in mind that it is relative to the ground plane regardless of the surface height of your model. 


Click and drag the cursor in any direction to turn your head and view your design.


How to walk through a model

You can easily walk through your 3D model by using your mouse or trackpad. Select the walk tool that is represented by a pair of shoes and place your cursor on the screen to show the direction in which you would like to start walking. 


Click and drag upwards to move faster and downwards to slow down again.


The tool also has automatic collision detection to prevent you from walking through walls and other geometry. You can toggle the collision detection off to make it easier to pass from one side of the design to the other if necessary.

About Elmtec

Elmtec have been the UK distribution partner for SketchUp since 2010, and service a network of UK and Irish resellers. We have over 22 years’ experience within the digital design community.

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