Choose How and Where to Apply Styles in SketchUp

By Aidan Chopra

Styles are endless. With a million permutations of dozens of settings, you can spend all day fiddling with the way your SketchUp model looks. But you don’t have all day, so keep one question in mind: Does this setting help your model say what you want it to say? Focus on what’s important. Styles are cool, no doubt, but making them useful is the key to keeping them under control.

To help you make smart decisions about using SketchUp styles, consider at least two factors when you’re styling your model:

  • The subject of your model’s level of completeness: Reserve sketchy styles for models that are still evolving. The message that a sketchy style sends is “this isn’t permanent/I’m open to suggestions/all this can change if it has to.”

    As your design gets closer to its final form, the appearance of your model generally gets less rough and more polished. Use styles to communicate how much input your audience can have and what decisions still need to be made.

  • How much your audience knows about design: An architecture-school jury and a nondesigner client who’s building a house for the first time perceive styles differently. Design professionals are more experienced at understanding 3D objects from 2D representations, so they don’t need as many visual clues to help them along.

    Styles’ essential purpose is to provide these clues, so here’s a rule of thumb: The more your audience knows about design, the simpler you should keep your styles.

Before you dive into styles, remember also that a little style goes a long way. No matter how tempting it is to go hog-wild with the styles settings, please resist the urge. Remember that the purpose of styles is to help your model communicate, not to make it look “pretty” or “cool.” If the style of your work overpowers its content, tone down the styles.

The figure shows an example of going overboard with styles and then reining them in.

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