Exploring SketchUp in Real-Time

 In Phil Read - Read|Thomas

Now that Enscape (www.enscape3d.com) has made a beautiful, real-time visualization and decision-making environment for Revit a lot of people have asked, “What’s the next application to get the Enscape treatment? Enscape is real-time in real-time. No exporting, post production, or need to learn another expensive application. Just start Enscape and start exploring!”

Should it be AutoCAD? Should it be Rhino or Max? Perhaps it should be ArchiCAD! But in my opinion the most interesting request for the next 3D modeling application that has native support with Enscape is SketchUp.

Oh dear. I can hear the BIM Managers groaning in the cheap seats…

Sure – a lot of BIM Managers would like to uninstall SketchUp from the computers used by their design teams. But I believe SketchUp actually plays a really important part in the design process. SketchUp is fast, fluid and doesn’t really care about all the careful and often irreversible decision-making that happens in Revit. Keep using pens, paper and SketchUp!

But why wait for an Enscape plug-in for SketchUp? Since so many design firms that have SketchUp also have Revit, let’s investigate a predictable and easy method to implement workflow that lets you explore your SketchUp designs in Enscape!

First of all, it’s really important that you model in SketchUp by Layer rather than by Material. However, if you have modeled everything on one layer and simply applied Materials – don’t worry! Dig around for a few moments on Google and you’re sure to find Ruby scripts that create and assign layers based on the material.

Got it? Good!

The image below is a simple SketchUp project that has been modeled so that every layer represents a single material. Why is that so hard, you “By Material” SketchUp users!? 🙂


Secondly, save your SketchUp Down to version 8 so that it’ll play nicely with Revit.


Now here’s the important part:

We’re not going to link or import this file directly into the Revit project environment. Instead, we’re going to import the file into a Revit family component. In this example, I’m using the Generic model category.


Once the file is imported, it’s also a good idea to move the imported file to a specific origin in the family as shown in the image below. When the design changes in SketchUp you’ll be able to simply and predictably repeat this process. Most importantly, you’ll be able to maintain the same origin when you reload the family into the Revit project environment.


Now that the Revit family component is complete, save it and load it into your Revit project as shown below.


Since your SketchUp project has been modeled by Layer, you’ll be able to remap each material category in Revit’s Object Styles settings. In a moment you’ll see I’ve also added a Revit floor for context.


In the image below, I’ve simply remapped the Brick, Glass, Stone and Wood categories to an appropriate material in Revit. Don’t forget to select the “Use Render Appearance” option so the shaded value approximately represents the material value.


And here’s the final result in Revit.


So how does it look in Enscape? Absolutely stunning!


But what happens if you want to change your model in SketchUp? That’s easy! In the example below, we’ve modified the geometry and even added another layer for Water.


Save the SketchUp file as previously shown, import the new file into the same Revit family and then reload the family into your Revit project. All the material mappings retain their previous assignments – only the geometry changes.

I nearly forgot to apply a Water material to the Object Style for water in the Revit family. Easy!


And here are the beautiful results in Enscape. And by the way, this process works with your other 3D modeling tools of choice as well. Just remember to model by Layer so you can map the appropriate material assignment to the layer.


Seriously – why wait for an Enscape plug-in for SketchUp when you’ve got a copy of Revit to use as the middle man? This process may not be perfect…but it’s easy, fast, predictable and the results speak for themselves!

If you’d like to look at larger images and open the tutorial file, here’s a link.

So what do you think? If you like this tutorial – please say so in the comments below. And don’t forget to share your tips and tricks as well.




Phil Read – Read|Thomas – Author

LinkedIn –                  www.linkedin.com/in/readphil
Read|Thomas –         www.readthomas.com


Start typing and press Enter to search