SketchUp import cad

by Design Workshop Sydney

Especially when working in an architectural or interior design context, it’s useful to be able to import CAD files, and use them as a reference for building the model. We show you how in our SketchUp courses.sketchup-import-cad
There are a variety of methods of importing files. SketchUp Pro (costing around A$600) will import DWG and DXF formats. If you still have an old copy of the free SketchUp version 7 you can also import CAD files. But the free versions after SketchUp 7 do not import CAD files – in the free version you have to redraw the floorplan in Top view.
If you also have AutoCAD, open the file and turn off all unnecessary layers – dimensions, furniture, etc. Simplify it to just the walls, doors & windows. Note: if you have an earlier version of AutoCAD & need to open a file created in a later version, you can download the DWG TrueConvert tool from Save this as a new file – don’t use your original files. Note that if you don’t have AutoCAD, you can adjust the layers easily in SketchUp itself.
Now open SketchUp > choose template > Simple Template – Metres > Start Using SketchUp. Don’t delete the human figure – this is good for later grouping & as an indicator of scale. File > Import > Type: DWG > select the file > click the Options button. Check Geometry > options > Units: millimetres (ie, the same as your CAD DWG). Tick Preserve drawing origin (if bringing in multiple CAD files) > OK > Open. Have a look at the Import Results > Close.
Go to the top Camera drop-down menu > Standard View > Top. Also Camera >  Parallel Projection. Note that it’s a group automatically (this is due to the human figure – if this was a blank file you’d have to manually group the imported objects). Go to: Window > Layers and note that the AutoCAD layers have been imported.
To simplify those layers, select them all except the Layer 0 (Shift & click to add) > click the Minus button to delete > you may get the message: Layers to be deleted are not empty > select Move contents to Default Layer (or alternatively you could do this in AutoCAD first before importing). Click the Plus button to create a new layer > name it floorplan and move the Group to this layer. Select the group > right-click to open Entity Info > Layer dropdown – it tells us it’s on Layer 0 > so choose: floorplan. Close floorplan. Then toggle the visibility tick on & off in Layers to make sure it worked – this will be very useful since it’s a reference only. Right-click on your group > Lock – it goes red indicating it’s locked.
To check the scale of the CAD file use the Tape Measure tool (T) to measure something you know the size of, eg. a 1-metre doorway, or a Site measurement. Note that sometimes it’s not the right size. To rescale it just punch in the new dimension (bottom right) > Enter > Yes.
We would now use the CAD file as a guide for modeling the walls, as well as the door and window positions. Many useful tips and techniques can be found at the SketchUp website. And see many examples of our own clients’ work on our Facebook page.
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