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Architecture, design, and media professionals all over the world are using Google SketchUp to create detailed 3D models efficiently and quickly. In Google SketchUp 6 Essential Training, design expert George Maestri teaches the foundations of SketchUp's drawing, design, and rendering tools. He covers the fundamentals of the application, the interface, and the Sandbox extension, which is used to create realistic organic shapes and terrain. George also discusses how to model and texture objects from existing photographs and export models to Google Earth to visualize how buildings fit in a real landscape. Exercise files accompany the course.
Another way to organize your scene is by using layers. Now, if you have used Photoshop or Illustrator, you probably be familiar with the concept of layers. So let me show you how it works within SketchUp. First I am going to open a scene that already has layers in it and then we are going to go ahead and create a scene and create layers for that scene later. So let's first of all look at what layers look like, understand the menu options and then we'll go ahead and create some scenes. And this is just a street of houses. Now when you get a complex scene like this it's nice to be able to segregate things out. So you can work on parts of the scene and have the other parts kind of tucked away. So you don't have to have them in the way. So we can do that by using layers. I am going to go to the Window menu and come down to Layers, and that's our Layers window. In the Layers window you'll see that this scene has five layers. The first one in the list is Layer 0. Now that's a special layer, that's the one layer you can't delete in SketchUp. So if there is no place else to put an object it will always wind up in Layer 0.
Now the other layers are layers that we have created. So we have one for the Ground, Street lights, Houses, and Miscellaneous. Now you can select the layer here by hitting this little dot. So if I want to select the Ground layer I can do that. If I want to select the Streetlights or the Houses layer I can do that. When this layer is active anything you draw in that layer gets assigned to that layer. So for example, here if I created a circle it will get assigned to the Houses layer because that's the active layer.
Now the real key to layers is this visibility column. What I can do is I can actually turn layers on and off. So for example if I didn't want to see the Ground layer I could turn that off, and just have the other layers visible. If I wanted to not see the Streetlights I could turn those off, the Houses, anything else. So you can see very quickly how this is a nice way to organize your scene. Now there is one little trick here is that, if you have a layer that's active it has to be visible. So for example if I had the Houses layer active and I try to turn it off it will give me an error message, so that the one thing is that if you have an active layer it has to be visible.
So typically what I do is I keep Layer 0 as empty as possible and then I make layers for everything else, so that way if I wanted to I could turn off everything in the scene. Now the next column here is a Color column, this is really just a way to visualize your layers. How the Color column works is that we have an option up here in the Details menu, if I scroll down to the bottom you will see this option it says Color by layer, and when you click that all these layers get assigned the default color. So the sidewalks are red and the houses are violet and so on.
Now if I wanted to I could change those colors like if I wanted the houses to be a different color all I have to do is click that and just change the color. I wanted the sidewalks to be a different color I just click the one for Ground and change that color. So you can just change these around. Now the nice thing about this is that it allows you to visualize the layers in your scene. You can very quickly by color see what objects are on what layers. So if there are any mistakes you can very easily catch them.
Now this Color column doesn't re- shade everything, it's just an option for visualization. So as soon as I turn off color by layer, the original shading goes back. There are other options here in this Details menu, and one of the ones is called Select All and what that does is just selects all of the layers. Now if you wanted to select objects within a layer you can use some of the right-click menu options in SketchUp. So for example, if I go into Select mode and I select the phase of this sidewalk all I have to do is right-click and under Select you will see I can select all on the same layer.
So this is another handy way of using layers for the ability to select objects. So if I select all in the same layer it will select all the objects in the ground plane and makes it much easier to select that stuff.
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