Annotating Google SketchUp 8 Models with Text and Dimensions in LayOut

LayOut enables you to create documents for presenting your 3D Google SketchUp models, both on paper and onscreen. LayOut was designed to be easy to use, quick to learn, and tightly integrated with SketchUp.

LayOut gives you the tools to create cover pages, title blocks, callouts, and symbols — whatever needs to accompany views of your model. LayOut has a few tools you can use to add blocks of text, titles, callouts, labels, and dimensions to your drawings. Luckily, none is terribly complicated to use.

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The Text tool in SketchUp

Text boxes in LayOut are classified into two broad types, depending on how you create them:

  • Bounded: If you click and drag with the Text tool, the text box you create is bounded. Any text you enter into it that doesn’t fit isn’t visible, and you get a little red arrow at the bottom. Use a bounded text box whenever your text needs to fit into a precise space in your design.

  • Unbounded: If, instead of creating a text box with the Text tool, you simply click to place your cursor somewhere on your page, the text you create is unbounded. It stays inside a text box, but that text box automatically resizes to accommodate whatever text you put inside it.

Naturally, you control things like text size, color, alignment, and font using the Text Style panel (Fonts panel on a Mac).

The Label tool in SketchUp

Use the Label tool to add callouts (notes with leader lines) wherever you need them. Four important points about the most useful tool in LayOut:

  • Activate, click, click, type, and click. Activate the Label tool, click once to “pin” the end of the leader line to an element in your drawing, click again to place your text cursor, type something, and click somewhere else to finish your label.

  • Leader lines stick to drawing elements.

  • Use the Shape Style panel to edit the look of your leader lines.

  • Save time by sampling. After you edit a label you’ve made already, it’s easy to set up things so every subsequent label you make looks the same:

    1. Activate the Label tool and then press the S key.

      Your cursor changes into an eyedropper.

    2. Click the text part of the label you sample and then click S again.

    3. Click the leader line of the label you sample.

    Now every label you create looks just like the one you sampled.

  • Use the Style tool to copy styles between labels you’ve created already. If you have a bunch of labels and you want to make them all look the same, follow these steps:

    1. Activate the Style tool (it looks like an eyedropper) and then click the text part of the label whose style you want to copy.

    2. Apply (by clicking) that style to the text of every other label you want to change.

    3. Repeat Steps 1 and 2, sampling the leader lines of your labels instead of the text.

The dimension tools in SketchUp

Both dimensioning tools (Linear Dimension and Angular Dimension) work very similarly to the Label tool; all three are made of lines and text.

  • Turn on Object Snap before you start.

  • Creating a new linear dimension is very simple. Activate the Linear Dimension tool, click a start point, click an end point, click to define an offset, and you’re done.

  • Double-click to create a string of linear dimensions. The offset you set for the first is duplicated.

  • Angular dimensions are a little trickier.

    1. Activate the Angular Dimension tool and then click once to establish the first “pin point” for your new dimension.

    2. Click again, somewhere along the same line as the point you clicked in Step 1.

    3. Click once to establish the second pin point.

    4. Click again along the same line as your second point.

    5. Click one last time to position the text of your angular dimension.

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  • Use the Shape Style panel to edit your leader lines.

  • Use the Dimension Style panel to change formatting.

  • Use the Style tool to copy formatting and other settings between dimensions.

Creating separate layers for text, labels, and dimensions saves time in the long run. In the Layers panel, click the Add Layer button to make a new one. The layer with the little, red pencil next to it is your active layer.

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