Toggling Terrain Visibility

Hiding terrain can improve SketchUp’s performance. Terrain can gobble up a noticeable chunk of your computer’s processing power, but SketchUp doesn’t ask your processor to render hidden geometry.

Having a way to hide the terrain is also handy when terrain obscures the bottom parts of a model. Hide the terrain, and it’s out of your way.

You can toggle terrain between visible and hidden with SketchUp’s layers feature — after all, controlling visibility is the whole purpose of layers. After you create or import your terrain, make sure that all your terrain geometry is organized into a single group. Then assign that group to a layer to control the terrain’s visibility. To learn details about groups, see Organizing a Model and its subarticles. To understand the tricks to working with layers, see Controlling Visibility with Layers.

Warning: SketchUp layers work differently than layers in CAD or image-editing programs. If you’re new to SketchUp layers, read and follow the steps in Controlling Visibility with Layers carefully so that your layers work as you expect them to.

If you import terrain from Trimble using the Add Location feature, SketchUp places the terrain on layers for you. In fact, SketchUp creates two layers:

  • Location Terrain layer: This is the terrain, imported from your selected area.
  • Location Snapshot: This 2D image shows an aerial photo of the area you imported into SketchUp.

Tip: You can switch between these two layers by clicking the Toggle Terrain tool () on SketchUp’s Location toolbar. Behind the scenes, the Toggle Terrain tool is controlling the visibility of these two layers, as shown in the following figures.

Note: If you don’t plan to display your model in Google Earth, you may want to remove the Location Snapshot. You can do so by removing the texture image via the Materials panel. Adding Colors and Textures with Materials and its subarticles explain how to edit textures.
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