Make Groups and Components



Modelers need to have a way to control how things interact.  Grouping stuff is a quick way to segregate related entities from the rest of the model.  Things inside the group or component wrapper will not be affected by changes on other parts of the model.
To get more control over a wrapper itself and the contents of the wrapper, jump into the use of components.  TaffGoch created a HousePlan file to help people understand how groups and components are used.  Open the Entity Info window while examining the file -  from the Window menu, SketchUp menu on a Mac.   Entity info lists what the parts are and layer location.


Like groups, components throw a segregation wrapper over selected entities.  But it does more.
  • If you are using the same entity multiple times (for example, a window or a tree), make it a component, and then use copies of the component. Multiple instances of a component are lighter-weight than multiple copies of an entity or group.
  • Use components as an archive.
    • Save a copy of a model in Component Libraries/Collections to readily retrieve it for future use.
    • Use the component as a jumping point for future model modifications, as there is a tool in the context menu (select component, right-click) to make a unique copy.
    • When a part of the model is in an awkward location to modify in situ, add a copy of the component in an accessible location, square to axes, to modify the geometry instead.

Separate Files for Major Components

Model major components in a separate file.

Component context menu options
Components Browser

Bring the components into the main, master model file by importing them through File > Import or through the Components browser from a custom, component library.

Refresh those edited library components as changes to external SKP files and library components do not automatically update when changes are made in external copies.
  • Context menu
    1. Select a component in the model workspace.
    2. Right-click and choose Save As in the context menu to save the component to an external location.
    3. To update the external component, select the component, right-click > Reload.
  • Component Browser
      1. Click on the house icon to get the In Model components.
      2. Right-click the old component and select Reload. 
    There's a Xref Manager plugin for those accustom to AutoCAD methodology.  Xreffing is a way to coordinate and manage the re-importation of external components and DWG/DXF files into master SKP file.  Look for the latest version of XrefManger.  Open the plug-in in a plain text editor, like Notepad, to find additional instructions. 
    BIG TIP: Do not change components axes....

    If you set up a component in a master file and want to save it in a separate file, do not disturb the axis location in the new file.

    The axis acts as a registration point.  When the external model is reloaded into the master model, it will oriented and placed according to the axis position.

    For example, layout and set up a component in the master file.  Then select the component and save it in an external file.  Stop all new modeling of that part in the master file.  Instead refine and update that model in the new, external file.  Do not change how the model is oriented to the axis.  Whenever changes need to be shown in the master file, select the affected component and Reload it from it's external location.

    Proxy Components

    Use low-poly, proxy components as place-keepers

    Try using low-poly component versions early in the modeling process.  Replace them later with better components. 

    • Make a replacement component.  It will appear in the Components browser, In Model library (click on the house icon.)
    • Select the component you want to replace in the model workspace.
    • Right-click on the replacement component in the Components browser and select "Replace Selected."

      Use low-poly components for distance view Scenes of the model.  Then only use more detailed component versions for close-up Scene views.  (See the
      Relevant Plugins section below to help automate this process.)
      1. Add separate Layers for the high-poly components and low-poly components.
      2. Place the high-poly component on it's own Layer and its low-poly counterpart on another Layer.
      3. Place a low-poly component and it's higher-poly counterpart on top of each other.
      4. Make some Scenes with the low-poly Layer visible and make some final presentation Scenes with the higher poly Layer visible.

      One technique if using a proxy-making plugin.  This method will not reduce file size, but switching visibility between high-poly components and the proxies is 'quick'.

      1. Add separate Layers for the high-poly components and low-poly components.
      2. Place the high-poly component on it's own Layer.
      3. Copy high-poly component (Edit > Copy or Ctrl+C in Windows).
      4. Paste the copy on top of the original (Edit > Paste In Place).
      5. With the copy selected, move the pasted copy onto the proxy Layer.
      6. With the copy still selected, r-click and choose Make Unique from the context menu.
      7. Change the new, unique component into its proxy version with plugin.
      8. Set up Scenes as needed with high-poly and low-poly proxy Layers visible.

      Keep low-poly components as place-keepers in original file and work out the component details in a different file.

      1. R-click on a component in the original file and choose Save As from the context menu, or r-click on the component from the Components browser. Either way will create a new SKP file from the selected component.
      2. Bring back the exiled component by either r-clicking on the original component in the workspace or from the Component brower and choose Reload.  The component axis acts as a registration point for the reloaded component.  

      Check out the proxy plugins listed below.

      Note:Some ray tracing renderers can be set up to ignore the low-poly, proxy models which are visible in the workspace and will render the high-poly models placed on invisible layers instead.  Check with your renderer for this option.  For example, the renderer Shaderlight includes a proxy tool called Replace Me.
       TreeMaker flower and its proxy

      Tips from the developer of 3D TreeMaker, Pascal Poublan, who included a proxy-making tool in the extension. While the advice is directed on optimizing the use of the extension, it is good advice on helping other large, balky models too.

      Yes as the plugin is creating lots of geometry it can becomes slow and difficult to work with the SketchUp model.

      Here are some tips to fasten use of TreeMaker within SketchUp.

      Close the SketchUp Outliner Window.

      While working with your model, disable style view features that are taking long to draw.
      • Shadows
      • Fog
      • Edge profiles, depth cue and extensions

      Create your trees in a new empty model
      • When you want to test and make many changes to one tree configuration, do it on a new empty SketchUp model.
      • When you’r happy with the result, convert it to proxy with the integrated tree maker proxy function
      • Then copy/paste this component (which is small) to the final model where you can make instances

      Use TreeMaker proxies features within SketchUp.
      • Switch all trees to proxies when you work on other parts than trees in your model, or when you just place or move existing trees. You can do this from the tool button or menu “change all trees to proxies”.
      • Save the model while trees are in proxy mode. File will be of a smaller size and will be saved and loaded faster.
      • Redraw all the trees (with the button or the menu) only just before rendering your final image or exporting 2D image

      Put trees in a different layer.
      • Put all the trees on one SketchUp layer.
      • When you want all the trees to be redrawn : disable the tree layer, redraw all trees, and enable the tree layer.

      Disable plugins that are looking for geometry changes in real time in SketchUp when you want to build trees.
      • This is the most difficult part to explain as there is no way to know in advance which plugins. This is the case for BGSketchup_Composants, Eneroth Railroad, and renders that are updating geometry in real-time with integrated SketchUp viewport.




      Relevant Plugins

      • CG Scene (Windows)   CG Scenes (Mac)  Chris Glasier - Helps manage scenes, layers and components in a single re-sizable automated interface (beta).
      • Component Comparison  ThomThom - Compares components for geometric similarities - replaces the instances of similar definitions to use the same definition (beta).
      • Component Properties  ThomThom - Context menu access to component properties.
      • Component Replacer  ThomThom - Replace group or components while preserving position and scale.
      • EditInPlace  Cadalog, Inc - Plugin that lets you edit (modify) components and groups in a separate SketchUp window.
      • Groups to Components  ThomThom - Recursively converts groups to components.
      • HideAll  Todd Burch - Hide all unselected Objects in your model.
      • HideTool  Todd Burch - Left click to hide anything and everything you click on.
      • Inteloide Component Manager   BGSketchup - Component manager.
      • Loose2Groups  Chris Fullmer - Groups loose geometry.
      • Make_Component  Matt666 - Tool to make and convert components or groups from selected entities.
      • Make Named Group  ThomThom  - Create named groups.
      • Proxy Components
        • 3D Tree Maker  3DArcStudio - Create unique, high-poly vegetation and low-poly, proxy substitutions.
        • Component Replacer  ThomThom - Replace groups or components while preserving position and scale.
        • GhostComp  Fredo6 - Makes simplified, proxy components to allow those smaller ghost component to substitute for the detailed version.
        • GOSU  Renderiza - Toolset that lets you trigger different actions when you click a component - URLs, sound, files, folders, Scenes, etc,... and proxies.
        • MaxtrixProximity  TIG - Helps to create and manage components based on their complexity depending on the proximity of the camera/viewer - for place-keeper fans. Matrix: makes multiple copies of selected component to create rectangular arrays. Proximity: sets level of detail in special Components depending on their 'proximity' (nearness) to the camera/viewer in the current page/view. It requires the use of special 'Proximity Components' in the model or in the 'Proximity Components' folder within the 'Components' folder. Doc included.
          • Open the script in a plain text editor for instructions (to insure foreign formatting is not added to the file.)
          • SketchUcation thread
        • Proxy Components  Render Plus - One of the construction wizards which comes with RpTools.  It makes low-poly versions of of selected components and places them on a special low-poly layer. - Windows 
        • Skatter  jiminy-billy-bob - Powerful scattering extension. Render hundreds of thousands of objects without overloading Sketchup. Parametric and comes with a content library. Fee
      • Scale Group Definition  ThomThom - Adds "Scale Definition" to groups.
      • XrefManager  TIG - helps to manage reimporting updated, external components and DWG/DXF into a master SKP file.
        • Open the script in a plain text editor for instructions (to insure foreign formating is not added to the file.)
        • SketchUcation thread
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