How to Create and animate Scenes in SketchUp

Creating Scenes

Creating scenes in SketchUp allows you to generate various views of your work and save them as independent images.


The benefits of doing so include quick access to different angles, seeing parts of your design with various textures or rendering applied, showing your model in parts to break down a presentation, adding additional views to shared models and creating animated sequences.

How to create a scene

Creating scenes is a simple three-step process. However, you should ensure that you set the view exactly how you want it with styles etc. applied for each before you begin.


Step 1. Head up to the Windows tab and select Scenes from the menu.


Step 2. Click on the Add Scene option.


Step 3. A new scene will appear and you can now change the name and add any other details as necessary.

How to manage scene properties

Each new scene comes with various preset properties. You can adjust these by unselecting the options from the Scenes dialog area.


Camera Location. You can adjust the point of view and zoom distances to suit your requirements.


Hidden Geometry. Everything will remain hidden when you load a new scene. Uncheck the box to display hidden elements.


Visible Layers. If you have used layers to control which parts of the document are visible, then you may wish to continue showing these throughout your saved scene.


Active Section planes. As with the visible layers, you may have created various section planes for your model. If you don’t want these to appear in your scene, then simply uncheck this box.


Style and Fog. Any of the scenes that you create will have their own style settings. When you edit these, you can decide whether or not you want to save the changes.


Shadows Settings. Creating Shadow settings for each of your scenes allows you to view shadow aspects at various times of the day. You may or may not want these saved with a newly created scene.


Axes Location. If you do not want the axes display info included in your scene, then you can toggle this off as well.

How to update a scene

To update your scene, select Windows from the menu bar and then click Scenes to open the dialog box.


Select the scene that you wish to work with and make sure you check the Show Details option to double check any of the properties that you want to save.


Finally, click on the Update Scene Button.


How to manage scenes


The scenes window will present all of your scenes in order of their creation time.


But sometimes you may wish to adjust this order and organise them in a way that makes more sense to you.


To do this, context-click on the scenes tab that you would like to move and shift it to the left or right as appropriate. You can also move the tabs up and down by selecting the Move Scene Down option and choosing the appropriate arrow.


How to delete a scene


Over time, it’s possible to build up a lot of scenes associated with your model. And you may not wish to keep all of them in the long term. To delete them, simply select the scene from the dialog and click Remove Scene.


How to customise scene thumbnails


Choosing your scene thumbnails is a matter of personal preference. It is possible to remove them altogether by clicking on the Details icon and unchecking the Use Scene Thumbnails option.


Other options include Small Thumbnails, Large Thumbnails, View Details or a List option that provides just the names of the scenes in a list.

How to view scenes in models imported from the 3D warehouse

Downloaded models from 3D Warehouse into SketchUp arrive in the form of a component. These will not have any scenes attached to them. The solution is to open it as a model by selecting No when asked if you want to load it directly into your SketchUp model.


Next, choose to open the file and use any of the scenes associated with that model.

Animating Scenes

Animating scenes is a fantastic way to show how your creation looks over a period of time. This could be with people coming and going, for example, traffic or perhaps shadows moving across a building throughout the day.


All of this is possible after creating your initial set of scenes and can be played as an animation in SketchUp, exported as an .MP4 or as an image set.

How to animate scenes in SketchUp

You can animate your scenes in the Scenes Manager by selecting the scene and clicking View > Animation > Play. Alternatively, context-click on the scene tab and choose the Play Animation option.


You can also customise the animation by clicking View > Animation > Settings. 

How to export video animations

To export your animations, head up to the main menu and click on File. Select Export, Animation and finally, select Video.


Select or create a new folder, give your creation a name and file extension type.


You can make any final tweaks to the animation via the Options tab and click Export when you’re ready.

How to export image sets

Exporting your scenes as an image set is simple. Follow the path: File > Export > Animation > Image Set and the Export Animation dialog options will appear.


Enter the root name for your images and select an image type from either .jpg, .tif or .bmp.


To make any changes to resolution etc., click on Options. Click OK to finalise the changes and select Export to complete the process. 

Casting Real-World Shadows

Your project comes to life as shadows are cast across the design at various points of the day. Based on the geographical coordinates, orientation and time zone of your model, shadows show you exactly what to expect when a building takes on its constructed form.


How to enable and use the shadows feature


By default, casting real-world shadows is automatically disabled while creating your designs. But to turn them on only takes a couple of clicks. 


Select View > Shadows to turn the feature on. And now you can begin to customise your options.


Make any necessary changes to the following setting as you need:


  • Time Zone 
  • Light intensity
  • Shadow intensity
  • Use the sun to simulate shaded areas regardless of turning shadows on or off
  • Cast shadows on other faces
  • Cast shadows on the ground plane
  • Cast shadows from edges


A transparent face with an opacity of less than 70% doesn’t cast shadows. Increase the opacity to above 70% to reverse this.

Using the Credits Feature

As they say, ‘credit where credit’s due’. And that’s exactly why SketchUp allows designers and those who have contributed to a model to add their names to a project using the Credits feature.


This feature is a basic attribution for those creating components for each model and not does not grant legal ownership for Digital Rights Management Purposes.


You will need a Google account to use this feature.


How to claim credit


Open the desired SketchUp component model file and follow these steps to claim credit on a design.


  1. Click the Sign In Account button
  2. Enter your Google account login details
  3. Now go to Window > Model info > Credits
  4. Click the Claim Credit option and ensure that your username is in the Model Author field
  5. Save the file
  6. Import your component into any other model file and your credit will appear 

Watermarking a Model

Watermarks are fantastic for keeping your designs secure and avoiding unauthorised copies after you share your SketchUp model. And they’re also powerful marketing tools as well.


Company names, logos and other images can appear in front of your images and documents or behind as necessary. And watermarking a model in SketchUp is incredibly easy for whatever purpose you may employ them.


How to add a watermark to a SketchUp model.


To add a watermark, select Window > Styles. The Styles browser will now open. Click Edit and then select the Watermark Settings icon.


You can now head to the saved image that you wish to use as your watermark and open the file. The possible file formats are .jpg, .png, .psd, .tif, .tga and .bmp.


The Creative Watermark dialog will now open and you can enter a name for your watermark. Click on the Background or Overlay buttons to place the image in front of or behind your model.


Go ahead and click on Next and you will now have the option to create a vignette mask and adjust the transparency of your watermark.


Click Next and select the position of your watermark. You can now expand the image to the desired size. You can also uncheck the Lock Aspect Ratio to allow your image to cover the whole screen.


When you are satisfied that the watermark appears exactly as you want it to, click Finish to end the process.


You can use the Edit Watermark Settings icon to make any alterations after you have inserted your image. Alternatively, you can delete it and start again if you wish.

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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