Drawing with LayOut Vector Tools - dummies

Drawing with LayOut Vector Tools

By Aidan Chopra

LayOut (a separate program that you get with SketchUp Pro) includes a full slate of drawing tools that you can use to create logos, title bars, north arrows, graphic scales — anything you want. The drawings you create are vectors, meaning that you can do the following:

  • Scale the drawings without losing quality.

  • Change the fill and stroke (outline) colors.

  • Split lines and then rejoin them to make new shapes.

Here are a few pointers to get you started:

  • Use the right kind of snaps. Drawing exactly what you want is easier if you let the software help. Just like SketchUp, LayOut includes an elaborate (but easy-to-use) inference system of red and green dots and lines to help you line up elements. LayOut also has a grid (that you define) to keep elements in your drawing aligned:

    • Snap to objects: When you choose Arrange → Object Snap to turn on object snapping, colored hints that help you draw appear onscreen.

    • Snap to grid: Choose Arrange →Grid Snap to turn on grid snapping. Now your cursor automatically snaps to (is attracted to) the intersection of grid lines in your document — whether or not your grid is visible.

  • You can use any combination of snapping systems (Object or Grid) while you work, but generally, one or the other works best, depending on what you’re trying to do. To save time, assign a keyboard shortcut that toggles each system on and off. (To do that, use the Shortcuts panel in the Preferences dialog box, which you can find in the Edit menu; on a Mac, look on the LayOut menu.)

  • Type measurements and angles. LayOut has a Measurements box (in the lower-right corner of your screen), just like the one in SketchUp. Type your measurements there.

  • Build complex shapes out of simpler ones. An upcoming example walks you through this process.

  • Open the Shape Style dialog box. Use the Shape Style dialog box to change the fill and stroke characteristics of elements in your document. In plain English, this is where you pick colors and patterns for the things you draw.

The following figure shows how to draw a simple arrow. Follow these steps to build one just like it:


  1. Make sure that Grid Snap is turned off and Object Snap is turned on; then draw a rectangle with the Rectangle tool.

  2. Draw a triangle with the Polygon tool.

    To do so, type 3s and press Enter before you start drawing to make sure that you’re drawing a triangle. Hold down the Shift key to make sure that the bottom of the triangle is a horizontal line.

  3. Shift-click to select both shapes and then choose Arrange → Align → Vertically to line up the rectangle and the triangle vertically.

    You can always use the Undo feature to go back a step; it’s in the Edit menu.

  4. Deselect both shapes by clicking once somewhere else on your page, and then select a shape and move it up or down on the page (by pressing the up- and down-arrow keys) until the two shapes overlap.

  5. Use the Arc tool to draw a half-circle at the bottom of the rectangle.

  6. Split the shapes into line segments.

    With the Split tool, click an intersection point and wait until all the lines stop flashing blue. Do this for all four intersection points to split the shapes into a series of line segments.

  7. Use the Join tool (it looks like a bottle of glue) to connect all the line segments.

    Click once on the arrowhead part, once on each half of the stem part, and once on the half-circle.

    When you’re done, you have one shape instead of three; verify this by clicking the shape once with the Select tool. You see one blue selected rectangle around your new shape. If you don’t have one shape, use the Join tool again.

  8. Move your new shape somewhere else and then delete the leftover line segments you don’t need.