How to Use Scenes to Control Layers in SketchUp

By Aidan Chopra, Rebecca Huehls

In SketchUp, scenes are basically saved views of your model. Instead of fiddling with navigation tools and panels every time you want to return to an important view, you can click a scene tab.

Scenes don’t just save different camera positions; you can also use them to control layer visibility. Being able to click a scene tab to instantly change which layers are showing is a crazy-powerful way to do iterative design: creating and presenting different options within the same design.

A very simple example: You’ve modeled a living room and want to try three different furniture configurations:

  1. Make three layers — Option 1, Option 2, and Option 3.
  2. Do three separate furniture arrangements, one per layer.

    Of course, this means that you have three copies of each object you move.

  3. Use the Layers panel to show Option 1, and hide Option 2 and Option 3.
  4. Create a new scene and name it Option 1 using the Scenes panel.
  5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 for the other two configurations.

Now all you have to do is click a scene tab to switch among the three options; this is much more elegant than having to fiddle with the Layers panel during a presentation.

To make this technique really sing, you need a working knowledge of the Properties to Save check boxes in the Scenes panel. Although this technique combining layers and scenes isn’t beginner-level stuff, you can probably easily get the hang of it after you have some practice with both layers and scenes. After you get the hang of this technique, it’s an elegant way to work.

One more useful tidbit: The Layer Tools plugin lets you (among other things) create a new layer that isn’t visible in any of the scenes you’ve made previously. This plugin comes in handy when you need to add a new iteration after you’ve already made a bunch of scenes. You find plug-ins in the Extension Warehouse.