How To Make a Sketchup Model Lighter: Essential Tips

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Working with a heavy model in SketchUp is very frustrating, what slows down the work in SketchUp is to have a heavy model with many components, but did you know that even after deleting the components the model can still be heavy?

Also, there are ways to make a Sketchup model lighter without having to create a component deletion apocalypse.

Here are some quick and effective tips that I have found useful in my life as an architect and designer working with SketchUp to make models lighter.

Not only does this help you work faster, but it also means you won’t have to get bored waiting for the file to save or opening the project.

A basic principle to make your model in Sketchup less heavy is to have fewer elements in it, that is to say, fewer components, edges, and faces, taking this into account you must design intelligently from the beginning of the modeling in Sketchup.

But, this is not always possible, and a lot of components and elements previously designed by other people are used.

Remember, before performing these actions save a copy of your model, after deleting the components, you cannot undo the action.

Hide the profiles in the model

This will not make your drawing less heavy, but it will certainly allow you to work faster, a SketchUp model that shows all edges is certainly a much heavier model which will make your work to orbit the model heavier and slower. to hide the edges in Sketchup go to:

  • Styles
  • Edit (tab next to select)
  • Uncheck the profiles box

Purge Sketchup 

Sketchup purge might seem like a very basic thing, but it is so essential to maintain an optimal model and reduce the size that many people simply don’t do it.

SketchUp saves all the components, styles, and materials you’ve added to your model – even if you’ve deleted or replaced them – in case you need them later. So if you really want to part with it, you need to instruct SketchUp accordingly.

To purge unused, go to the Window Tab > Model Info > Statistics > Purge Unused.

Be sure to check the box at the top right that says “show nested components” for the work to be effective.

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In this way, you will remove all components, layers, materials, and visual styles that are not in your 3D model achieving a significant improvement in program performance and drastically reducing the file size.

What happens when you purge in SketchUp?

With SketchUp’s native Purge Unused feature, you can remove unused elements, dramatically reducing file size, which in turn reduces the time it takes to save and load your model.

When you purge a model the file size in Sketchup is reduced, especially in models with many components, it turns out, that even if you delete some components from SketchUp, there are still instances saved in the system.

Remove Hidden Geometry

Some models downloaded from WareHouse may contain hidden elements that are not necessary, it would be interesting to remove these types of hidden objects to reduce the file size.

To do this, you must turn on all layers and show the hidden geometry of the model (from the View > Enable Hidden Geometry menu). Then remove what is not needed from the component.

Reduce Polygons

To reduce the size of a Sketchup file you need to have smaller amounts of elements in the model, i.e. lines, textures, and components, this also includes polygons.

The polygons are the unit that makes up the faces of an object, the faces, in turn, make up the components, an object with a large number of polygons, turns out to be very heavy.

That is why some of the heaviest objects in the Sketchup program are trees because they are modeled with a large number of polygons.

Make sure, of the number of polygons of the heaviest and most repetitive components you are using in your Sketchup model, in the SketchUp warehouse, you can see the number of polygons of each component in the model information box.tree su

Another way to reduce the number of polygons in a Sketchup component or model is to soften the edges by more than 80%. There are also some plugins to reduce the number of polygons in Sketchup models.

Avoid using heavy models from the Sketchup Warehouse

This is a very essential element that I always keep in mind when adding trees, which are usually repetitive elements in the model, when searching in the SketchUp warehouse, avoid using trees with a huge amount of polygons and very heavy.

The good thing is, that in the warehouse they inform you of the number of polygons and the weight of the components in megabytes, avoid using these components or elements or your model will become very heavy and slow.

If you see the cover photo of the topic, the trees that I used in that model are from the 3D warehouse of Sketchup, they are aesthetic and extremely light.

Avoid high-resolution textures

As with components, using high-resolution textures will only significantly increase the weight of your SketchUp model.

Generally, I use the simplest textures I can find in Sketchup and apply better quality textures when rendering in an external program.

If you render with Vray in Sketchup, then using high-quality textures is understandable, just try not to overuse them too much in Sketchup if you are really concerned about file weight and mobility.

Use proxy models in Sketchup

Ok, this won’t directly decrease the weight of the file in Sketchup, but it definitely will while working, using proxy models will free you from having a lot of heavy components when modeling.

It allows you to considerably increase the speed of navigating and using SketchUp when you have high detail geometry (vegetation, vehicles, people, furniture). By using proxies in your projects you will be able to keep the file optimized so as not to slow down the work with the 3D model.

The Proxy system allows the geometry to be imported from an internal file at the time of work, actually, the complete geometry of the object is not in the 3d scene of SketchUp, so it does not consume system resources (or almost).

Yes…I know it sounds a bit complex, but take a look at a short tutorial on Youtube and you won’t regret using proxy models in SketchUp.

Use of plugin to decrease file size in SketchUp

The above are common tips that I regularly use to reduce the size of files in Sketchup, now, I will explain the most useful plugins for this task.

The advantage of using the plugins is that with a single click you can do the job of cleaning and decreasing the file size.

Although you must keep in mind that sometimes unwanted lines are deleted, the good thing is that in the case of plugins, you can undo the action and revert the model to its previous state.

Sketchup Cleanup plugin

Cleanup is a fabulous plugin for the SketchUp program, it is used to clean SketchUp models in depth and among other options allows:

  • Purge unused items
  • Removes hidden geometries
  • Deletes overlapping duplicate components
  • Deletes duplicate faces.
  • Repairs separated edges.
  • Deletes repeated model materials
  • Delete duplicate faces
  • Delete duplicate vertices

CleanUp is a free plugin, and it is one of those plugins that I always install in all the versions of SketchUp I use, because of its practicality and usefulness.

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