Sketchup to Cinema 4D: How to Use Layers Efficiently

Photo of Mike Heighway

Instructor Mike Heighway

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Using Layers properly will help you with organizing your file for efficient modeling and workflow within Sketchup, and easy Cinema 4D import.

Using Layers properly will help you with organizing your file for efficient modeling and workflow within Sketchup, and easy Cinema 4D import. Combining Layers with Hidden Geometry will help you isolate and add specific parts of your Sketchup file to Cinema 4D.



- Like groups, layers help keep your files clean and easy to work with, not only in Sketchup but also within Cinema 4D. Utilizing layers effectively will help you isolate and work with your model elements efficiently and in an organized manner. It will also help for when you bring this into Cinema make this much, much cleaner, particularly when your model has become large and complex. Like an architectural rendering or a product rendering might have lots of layers with elements that you need to isolate. You can see here in the spllied file, "01 Layers" that I have this broken down into numerous layers. The top layer, Layer 3, is the red type, Layer 2 is the orange type, Layer 1 is the yellow, and then the base layer. Also, per our previous section on grouping, I have each one of these elements grouped independently, meaning that these will pull in as single objects from Sketchup into Cinema 4D. So let's go ahead and pull this into Cinema 4D. I'm going to drag this into Cinema and release, and this time you'll see we have the dialog box. I'm going to just highlight "Split objects by layer". This is critical if you want your objects to come in, in a layered file. So we'll check that and hit OK. I'm going to flip over from my Attributes to my Layer tab, and you can see that I have my base layer, Type Layer 1, 3, and 2. I'm going to go ahead and drag this on top so we have Base Layer 1, 2, and then 3. Now, I'm using my quick keys Option and then 2 to zoom in, and Option to rotate the camera. You can see that I can hide from the viewport my different layers. Also, if I choose to render to the viewport, I can hide the different layers that are rendering here. So that's pretty handy. But when you get a really complex model with lots of elements, windows, doors, walls, structure if you're talking architecture, something with a lot of layers, this becomes really handy. Because not only do layers help you in the viewport, but they can also help you in your Object Manager. So I can hide these elements. Let's just say this was filled up. I can hide all these different elements in here and easily navigate my file, isolate different elements, and modify those accordingly. Layers are a very handy way to work within Sketchup and also Cinema 4D. One thing I'd like to show you that's not really a big deal in Cinema, but will really help your workflow in Sketchup is how to work with layers there. Very quickly, you should probably already know how to do this, but I just want to show you something. If I have an object and I'm using this existing file, but I'm going to show you an example here, within Sketchup I have grouped these and I'm going to go ahead and Command+A to select all. If I go to Window, Entity Info, you can see that these exist on multiple layers because nothing is selected here. So let me select Layer 0, and hide this. Now, if I were to select all of these and apply these to Layer 2, they're going to disappear. Now, I'm going to hit Escape, or I'm going to click off of this to back out. I'm going to show Layer 2 again. You'll see that when I select this top layer element, that is actually Layer 3. But within that, when I select all, these are part of Layer 2. This is something that gets a little frustrating sometimes, especially if you're taking somebody else's model and working with it in Sketchup. You need to take care in how you're grouping things. So I'm going to show you an example here. I'll show all of these. I'm just going to go ahead and Delete, Delete, and Delete quickly. I'm going to start with a rectangle here, and I'm going to put this on Layer 2. I'm going to go ahead and push this, and you'll see with my entity info that this is now on Layer 2. If I switch over and select Layer 3, I still have this selected and I Command+G to group that, it will now put the group on Layer 3. But when I enter the group and I select all these elements, it's still on Layer 2. So it's very easy to accidentally put things on the wrong layer. If I hide Layer 2, you'll see that Layer 2 elements, the box inside the group go away. But this box is still highlighted, because it's showing Layer 3. So just be aware of this when you're working in Sketchup that you need to really take care in how you're grouping the elements.
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