SketchUp Interoperability with Revit

Many SketchUp projects eventually make their way into other programs for detailing and documentation. Conversely, projects from these same programs find their way into SketchUp for better visualization, collaboration, and to improve communication. Revit is a program often needed to deliver construction documents and permit sets for many large architecture projects. SketchUp models can transition to or from Revit projects in a variety of ways - the best way for your project is dependent on the project's deliverables and goals. This article focuses on several ways one can transition from SketchUp to Revit and Revit to SketchUp.

SketchUp to Revit: Approaches & Workflows

SketchUp to Revit Best Practices
  • An organized SketchUp model is key to any successful workflow
  • Because it is not guaranteed that Revit's importer is up to date with the latest SketchUp version, you can "Save As" your SketchUp model down a version at least 1 year before your Revit Version (i.e. if you are using Revit 2021, save your SketchUp model as version 2020)
  • Understand your deliverables and goals - the best transition method will depend on your end goal or deliverable
Primary Approaches

We have targeted 3 primary approaches that a user can apply to bring SketchUp assets into Revit. These approaches utilize some of the native features available in both SketchUp and Revit.

SketchUp as an "In-Place" Component

This approach will allow a user to use a SketchUp model as an "In-Place" component in Revit. As an "In-Place" component, Revit family categories can be assigned and changed. Additionally, an OmniClass Number can be assigned for scheduling and keynoting.

"In-Place" Component Use Cases

SketchUp for Concept and Schematic Design - SketchUp is used for concept and schematic design and the model is used as a reference in Revit to create native Revit walls, floors, and roofs.

SketchUp for Unique or Custom Elements - SketchUp is used to create unique or custom objects that are difficult to create natively in Revit (e.g. Stairs, feature walls, built-ins). The SketchUp model is placed in the Revit project under the correct family category.

3D Warehouse for Assets - 3D Warehouse is a great resource for model elements that may not be available within Revit (e.g. furniture, casework, and light fixtures). These SketchUp components are designated in Revit under the correct family category.

"In-Place" Component Workflow

Within the Revit project, select the Architecture Tab > Component Drop-down > Model In-Place... and select the Revit Family type you want to assign (e.g. mass, generic family, furniture). Next, select the Insert tab > Link CAD... and select the SketchUp file.

Once completed, the SketchUp model is now an "In-Place" component in your Revit project.

As an "In-Place" component, you are able to…

  • Tag entities
  • Input "Identity Data" (Select Family → Edit Type)
  • Utilize cut in plans, sections, and elevations
  • Filter by Revit family type
  • Control and override graphics at a family level
  • SketchUp's tags will become the link's "layers" that can be controlled with Revit's visibility graphics

To use the SketchUp "In-Place" component as a reference to create native Revit assembly families and assemblies, like in the "Concept and Schematic Design" use case, there are two options:

"Model by Face" Method (Revit Walls and Roofs only)

In the Model by Face method, the user will use Revit's native "Wall by Face" or "Roof by Face" feature to create a Revit assembly from a SketchUp face.

"Trace" Method

In the Trace method, a user will draw with Revit's various object creation tools and snap to the points and line work provided by the SketchUp "In-Place" component. Be aware Revit will only snap to the points associated with a Revit Level for this method.

After either method is complete, the resulting entities are native Revit assemblies.

SketchUp as a "Link" in a Revit Project

This approach is primarily used when needing to visualize SketchUp models as contextual elements within Revit. This will allow for the visualization of highly detailed context elements while leaving these elements separate from the Revit project (contextual buildings, streetscapes, terrain, furniture layouts, etc). This can also be used as a means of collaboration between disciplines.

SketchUp for Context

SketchUp is often used to create detailed site models or context models. The SketchUp model is used alongside the Revit model serving as context in the project. The result can be used for site and scoping plans, renderings or for 3D views when there is a need to show additional urban context, detailed adjacent structures, or infrastructure on a large site.

Within an open Revit Project, select Insert > Link CAD (file type .skp) ... and select the SketchUp file.

*We do not recommend the Insert → Import CAD method. More information about linking and importing can be found here.

Results: The SketchUp model is a linked file in Revit and inserted at Revit's "Internal Origin" which is the same as SketchUp's origin point.

Here is an example of a linked SketchUp site in a Revit project.

Here is an example of a linked office furniture layout in a Revit project, shown in red.

Now that the SketchUp model is linked into the Revit project…

  • You can snap to the linked model with Revit's drawing and measuring tools
  • The linked model can be developed further in SketchUp and continually reloaded into Revit by updating the link
  • SketchUp's tags/layer will become link "layers" that can be controlled with Revit's visibility graphics
  • Large models as links can be toggled on/off per view or view template
  • You can collaborate with SketchUp designers or production team members with no Revit knowledge

SketchUp as an IFC Export

This approach allows for the integration of model elements into the Revit project for the purpose of coordination and collaboration.

SketchUp as an IFC Export Use Case

Detailed SketchUp Model

SketchUp is used to create a detailed model. The model is used in Revit for continued development and annotation with limited rework needed.

Reference or Consultant Model

A SketchUp model is used in Revit for 3rd party collaboration and coordination. Model object display & visibility options are controlled at the Revit family level.

SketchUp as an IFC Export Workflow

  1. Within SketchUp, all the geometry must be made into individual groups or components.

    Tips for the best results:

    1. Elements should be true 3D objects and made watertight. For example, walls should not be single planes. Instead, they should be drawn as "thick" walls with actual dimensions.
      Single plane wall (NO)
      "Thick" wall (YES)
      Tip: You can determine if a group/component is water tight in the Entity Info dialog. If the dialog states a volume, the group/component is water tight. The Entity Info dialog will also state upon selection of an object ‘Solid Group' or Solid Component' to determine if the selected object is watertight. There are SketchUp extensions that can help you validate your group/component and even help fix any issues. One extension to try is Solid Inspector (Free)
    2. If at all possible, typical wall systems should be grouped as straight segments. Revit does not correctly interpret IFC walls that contain returns or height offsets and may affect the ability to host Revit families.
      A continuous wall system - (NO) Not ideal for the IFC export
      A wall system made from straight wall segments - (YES) Ideal for the IFC export
    3. Tip: There are SketchUp extensions such as ProfileBuilder3 (Paid) and Simple Tool (Free) that can facilitate the creation of watertight and straight walls systems perfect for this use case.
      ProfileBuilder3 drawing a wall system with a return
    4. If you are wanting SketchUp materials to transfer into Revit through the use of IFC, materials must be applied to the group/component. Materials applied to raw geometry will not transfer in the IFC export.
  2. Classify all the components and groups as IFC objects. This can be done while you are creating a component, through the Entity Info dialog, or by using the SketchUp Classifier menu/tool.
    Tip: Learn more about assigning IFC classifications here - Classifying objects
  3. Export the model as an IFC file (File > Export > 3D Model… select 2x3 IFC file type).
  4. Within Revit, select File > Open > IFC… and select the IFC file.

Results: SketchUp groups/components that have been assigned an IFC classification will become Revit "In-Place" components with the correct Revit Family classification (i.e IFCWall = Revit Wall).

As an "In-place" component, you are able to…

  • Host windows, doors, and face based families
  • Tag and schedule families
  • Filter by Revit family type
  • Edit the family
  • Utilize cut in plans, sections, and elevations
  • Input "Identity Data" (Select Family → Edit Type)

Please Note:

  • Although the "In-Place" component has a Revit family classification, you will not be able to change it to a native Revit assembly type.
  • Doors will only insert at a Revit Level - you must create Revit levels to accomplish this.

Revit to SketchUp: Approaches & Workflows

It can be advantageous to export Revit models to SketchUp for client feedback and easy model manipulation for charrettes, design reviews, and stakeholder presentations.

Revit to SketchUp Use Cases

There are many reasons a user would want to view Revit geometry within SketchUp. The following are just a sample of the use cases where Revit created geometry viewed in SketchUp can help further develop a project.

  • Create compelling visuals for public facing design presentations
  • Develop shading and solar studies
  • Perform material studies
  • Create complicated geometry that is difficult to create natively in Revit
  • Add detail to a model
  • Perform faster changes on the fly to expedite the testing of design options
  • Perform quick collaboration with non-AEC stakeholders
  • Create a lighter model for fly-throughs and animations
  • Create furniture and fixture layouts using 3D warehouse
Primary Approaches

There are multiple ways to bring your Revit model or elements of the model into SketchUp, including DWG, DXF, and IFC. We have targeted two approaches that a user can apply to bring Revit projects into SketchUp.

Revit as a DWG Export Workflow

  1. Within an open Revit Project, select or create a 3D view. Once in a 3D view, select File > Export > DWG > Modify Export Setup (3 dots…) > Solids > ensure ACIS is selected...and finish the export.
  2. Within SketchUp, select File > Import (File type DWG) > Select the .dwg file… finish import.

Results: Revit families become SketchUp components and tagged to the default CAD layer name.

Once in SketchUp, you are able to treat the elements like normal SketchUp entities and manipulate and visualize as you see fit.

Please Note:

  • Revit will only export what is visible in your 3D view. Turn off unnecessary families to ensure a clean and usable SketchUp model.
  • The transition of materials to SketchUp can be inconsistent and based on your export preferences. Preferences are controlled in the "Colors" tab in the Revit export setup. The most consistent method is to export by CAD Index Color and adjust the material once imported to SketchUp. During the import into SketchUp, click Options, and check the box for "Import Materials." The IFC Export method is more successful at transitioning shaded materials.

Here is an example of a DWG exported from Revit and viewed in SketchUp.

Revit as an IFC Export Workflow

  1. Within an open Revit Project, select File > Export > IFC...finish export.
  2. Within SketchUp, select File > Import (File type .IFC) > Select IFC file… finish import.

Results: The Revit families are components in SketchUp and they will be assigned as Untagged and labeled appropriately in SketchUp's Outliner. The IFC classifications set in Revit will be preserved on the individual components for possible future re-export as IFC.

Once in SketchUp, you are able to treat the elements like normal SketchUp entities and manipulate and visualize as you see fit.

Please Note:

  • Each Revit family instance becomes a unique SketchUp component due to Revit's schedulable parameters. For example, If there are 5 instances of the same door family in Revit tagged as "A101-A105", that will create 5 unique SketchUp components rather than five instances of the same component.
  • Although shaded materials will transfer to SketchUp, Revit's render material will not. The extension Material Replacer (Free) can help update the shaded material to a more realistic material of your choosing if needed.
Tip: There are SketchUp extensions that can help cleanly import IFC to SketchUp, assign IFC classifications as Tags, and even help reduce geometry triangulation. One valuable extension to try is IFC Manager (Free).

Here is an example of an IFC file exported from Revit and imported to SketchUp.

Revit to SketchUp: Extensions to Consider

Third party extensions and plug-ins may be helpful depending on your workflow. We recommend researching their potential to make your transition as seamless as possible. The following Revit Add-ins might be worth your consideration:

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