Dimenioning overload

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Dimenioning overload

Postby daniel_grant » Wed Oct 28, 2009 9:12 pm

Hello everyone, I'm new to the forum, been working with sketchup somewhat longer, and with wood significantly longer.

I'm currently working on a series of sketchup models for a woodworking book that's been written, and while the modelling itself was somehwat straightforward, adding the final details is proving to be difficult.

Originally I had modelled the complete pieces, followed by additional scenes showing individual components and exploded views as well. I figured anyone wanting to work precisely from the models would use the exploded view and ruler tools.

The problem I now face is that the author would like the sketchup models to double as both 3D models and dimensioned plans. I've gone back and forth between a few ways of accomplishing this, but each time, I find that the more complicated pieces become unweildy, as Sketchup isn't a layout program.

My first idea was to combines scenes and hiding layers to develop a sort of 'fake' layout - elements were shown from mulitple views and dimensions for each scene were added, and hidden in other views. This, as I said, worked alright for the more simple plans that the book starts with (and that I started modelling first), but as the complexity rose, I was needing to use more and more scenes, and it was too cumbersome to try to keep track of all the dimensions that went with each scene, etc.

Secondly, I decided I would just dimension the gross dimensions of each component in the exploded view - width, thickness, length. This was much more simple, but not particularly useful, and a far cry from dimenioned plans.

Lastly, I decided I would completely dimenision each component in the exploded views - each mortise, tenon, and dado. Users could then orbit around the model to see the dimensions. I facilitated this to an extent by grouping components into separate exploded views (ie, doors and drawers separate from the carcasses), and also by omitting obviously repeating components and dimensions (not to mention leaving the layout of dovetails, which are a prominent feature of every model), but the exploded view still end up looking like a bunch of cacti, with all the dimenion arrows overlapping and sticking out all over the place until you zoom in on a component.

I don't want to upload any actual files, but here's an example of what I'm faced with - a cabinet of drawers. Shown is the exploded view (with drawers and most of the drawer dividers removed), and a view zoomed in on one leg.

dimensions galore.PNG


If you opened a sketchup file and saw this, would you be confused/appalled? Obviously it's easy to see once zoomed in, but at that point, it's probably just as easy to break out the ruler tool.

Anyway, this post is more than long enough, but I thought I'd run through what I've already tried before asking for advice. I tried to find some information online on creating dimensioned plans from sketchup files, but didn't seem to have much luck. Thanks very much if you've read this far!
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Re: Dimenioning overload

Postby jeff hammond » Wed Oct 28, 2009 9:28 pm

Yeah, that doesn't look too good.
I guess you could try using the 3d text tool to write the dimensions. Set the extrusion amt to 0 and place them on a different layer so the user can turn them off easily if they choose.
Doing that will in effect make the individual numbers 'burned' onto the surfaces and the numbers will grow/shrink relative to the rest of the model when zooming. It's going to be a pain to do though if you have a lot of dimensions to add.

Maybe someone else has a better idea
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Re: Dimenioning overload

Postby Dave R » Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:22 am

I've been doing woodworking plans for several clients for some time now. I can understand what you're dealing with. Frankly, I'd prefer not to get a plan as a SketchUp model. I'd rather have just the model, no exploded views, no text. I'd much rather get the plan as a PDF file that I could actually print easily and take to the shop. Your author probably has other ideas, though.

Good luck.
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Re: Dimenioning overload

Postby brandy20 » Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:21 pm

I agree with Dave and I think that a pdf from layout could be the best way to show a plan. Anyway, using SU, I'd use as many scenes as I need to represent the details of the model that I want to, rather than using a single quoted view that, in my personal opinion, brings much more confusion and let the reader abandon the correct understanding of the project.
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Re: Dimenioning overload

Postby david. » Thu Oct 29, 2009 4:39 pm

In addition to the other comments, I think you're better off creating dimensioned plans by using the standard orthonormal views (three) of each component (or portions of each component). It's more work, but it's more clear to the reader. While I might use dimensions on 3D views for personal use in relatively simple projects, I would not publish a book like that nor would I purchase a book like that.
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Re: Dimenioning overload

Postby jeff hammond » Thu Oct 29, 2009 4:59 pm

david. wrote:I would not publish a book like that nor would I purchase a book like that.


if i understand correctly, there's the book and also the accompanying sketchup models which the readers can navigate in 3D space.. the author (for some odd reason :D) would like the sketchup models to include the dimensions..
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Re: Dimenioning overload

Postby daniel_grant » Thu Oct 29, 2009 5:23 pm

Yeah, this is a supplement to the book, not for the book itself - I offered to do the models for the author when I saw that his sketches in the book were lacking some critical features. Actually, I had originally offered to draw 2D plans, and it was the author that suggested the Sketchup models.

Thanks for the response everyone - I'll look into making some 2D plans and scrapping the dimensions in the model altogether. Having come across the SectionCutFace plugin, the 'Section Plane' feature is a lot more useful, and I can just take some key sections from the model and dimension them, rather than the model itself.
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Re: Dimenioning overload

Postby Gaieus » Fri Oct 30, 2009 10:49 am

Hi Daniel and all,
This was originally posted on these forums but for the life I cannot find it anywhere. No problem because was re-posted on the SketchUpdate Blog:
http://sketchupdate.blogspot.com/2009/0 ... tchup.html

Maybe it will have some value (although those thinner legs are obviously not the ideal form for the trick).
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Re: Dimenioning overload

Postby Jean Lemire » Fri Nov 06, 2009 8:33 pm

Hi folks.

Personnaly, I would do this:

1 - Keep the assembled view as it is. I would create a scene to show it.

2 - Optionally, add an exploded view as shown but without dimensions, just to help to visualise all the parts that are involved. Each one being a component, not a group, even if there is only one of its kind in the model. You will see why below. Of course, I would also add a scene to show this exploded view.

3 - I would add a layer called "Dimensions" and make it invisible. I would update each of the first two scenes to reflect that change. I could make the hidden layer first and then the secnes would inherit this as soon as they would be created.

3 - I would move away each part and then dimension this copy inside the component. I would then create a scene to show it or in fact as many scenes as required to show it clearly (Top, Face, Left, etc). I would use parallel view for these. I would then select all dimensions and assigh them to the layer called "Dimensions". In this scene, I would make this layer visible.

4 - I would repeat step 3 for each part.

Then, if for any reason, I need to change something in a part, I can do it on any instance like the one in the assembled view, the one in the exploded view or even the individual instance having its dimensions shown. This is why I used components in step 2.

This will provide me with an assembled view and an exploded wiew without any dimensions showing and also with a set of orthogonal views of each part.

Then, to produce shop drawings, I could simply print the different scenes showing the orthogonal views of the parts.

Just ideas.
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Jean (Johnny) Lemire from Richelieu, Quebec, Canada.
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Re: Dimenioning overload

Postby daniel_grant » Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:46 pm

Hi Csaba,

I did try that when I had all the dimensions in the exploded views - the only problem with that is that if you adjust the slider enough that it actually has a useful effect, it turns into a game of hide and seek with the dimensions; you're left orbiting around the components waiting for dimensions to pop into view.

Hi Jean,

That would be an option if I only had a handful of components, but there are probably 50+ unique components in the more complicated models - compounded by having three views each, that's a crazy number of scenes, in my opinion. It'd be nice if there were some sort of dynamic component feature that allowed you to assign scenes to an action - the scenes could show the entire exploded view, and then clicking on a component would automatically hide the rest of the components.

The solution I chose was, as had been suggested earlier, to make 2D dimensioned plans seperate from the model itself. Not too fancy, but I was getting tired of trying things in Sketchup that ultimately didn't work.

This allowed me to use Visio to export CAD files of the required views, convert them in Visio, and dimension using the Visio dimensioning tools, which are superior to both the Sketchup/Layout dimensioning tools by orders of magnitude.

Thanks again to everyone!
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Re: Dimenioning overload

Postby tim » Sun Feb 21, 2010 3:57 am

Jean's idea is quite reasonable but perhaps alittle more complex than is really needed. There's nothing wrong at all with dozens or even hundreds of scenes; take a look at some of the models done for oil refinery planning.

However, you don't need to make an entirely separate scene for each view of each part, or even for every part. It's quite ok to have several instances of the part and align each one up for the view you need. You can dimension each one as required and put the dimensions on a separate layer would be my advice. If, like me, you are using LayOut you can simplify things a bit by making use of LOs ability to choose a view direction in each viewport and to do dimensions outside the SU model. Clearly, a scene with a single instance of a component can be inserted into an LO doc several times and a different view of the part chosen each time. Better yet you can have several parts in a single scene and so long as you stagger them the right way they will not be seen unless you align the LO view just right.

See http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/ ... 9ce1bc6436 and look at the 'parts' scene for an example.
This is the PDF generated from that model -
Rustic Pine Bed.pdf
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