Creating Scenes

In SketchUp, making a scene doesn't bother anybody. In fact, scenes help you save different model views and properties and then present those views to other people. Each scene you create appears as a tab at the top of the modeling window and you can manage your scenes using the Scenes panel, as shown in the figure below.

Here are a few ways you might use scenes:

  • As you're creating a 3D model, creating scenes helps you quickly change to a different view of your model. You might save views from different angles, like the front, back, and side of your model, or rendering styles, such as wireframe, monochrome, or textured.
  • Saved scenes can help you present your model. Selecting a scene tab is much easier than pausing a presentation to orbit, pan, or zoom while your audience watches and waits. 
  • Save scenes with a model that you share via the 3D Warehouse.
  • Animate a sequence of scenes to show off a model. Learn how to animate scenes in Animating Sections and Scenes.
Table of Contents
  1. Adding a scene
  2. Managing properties saved with a scene
  3. Updating a scene
  4. Sequencing scene tabs
  5. Deleting a scene
  6. Customizing thumbnails the Scenes dialog
  7. Viewing scenes in models imported from the 3D Warehouse

Adding a scene

Before you create a scene, set the view and apply any styles, fog, shadows, or section cuts that you want to the scene to display. Also, hide any geometry or deselect any layers that you don't want the view to display. All these properties are saved with your scene, although you can update or manage these properties later, as explained in the next two sections of this article.

To add a scene, follow these steps:

  1. For Windows users, open the Scenes panel in the Default Tray. If you have hidden the Default Tray or the Scenes panel, select Window > Default Tray and uncheck Hide Tray and/or make sure Scenes has a check next to it. For MacOS users, select Window > Scenes to open the Scenes window.
  2. Select the Add Scene icon (). The scene appears in the Scenes window with the default name of Scene 1.
  3. If you want to change the name of your scene or add a description, select the Show Details icon () in the upper right of the Scenes window. Use the options provided to rename the scene, add a description, and select which properties are saved with the scene. Descriptions add detail to the Thumbnail view in the Scenes panel and are also available as an Auto-Text property in LayOut.


If you're creating a new model of a building and you have a photo of that building, you can create a scene and start a Match Photo operation at the same time. In the Scenes dialog, click the Details arrow () and select Add Scene with Matched Photo. You're prompted to select the photo file you want to use, and then SketchUp switches to Match Photo mode. See Matching a Photo to a Model (or a Model to a Photo) for details about working with the Match Photo feature.

Tip: If your model already contains one scene, you can create a new scene context-click next to an existing scene tab and select Add. You can also add a scene by clicking the Details arrow in the Scenes window and selecting Add Scene.

Managing properties saved with a scene

By default, when you add a scene, SketchUp saves several properties that affect the view of your model. In the Scenes dialog, the following checkboxes enable you to control which of these properties are saved. Here's brief introduction to the checkboxes and the properties they control:

  • Camera Location: Remember that SketchUp uses a camera as a metaphor for the way you view your model. The camera properties saved with a scene include the point of view, including the zoom distance and field of view.
  • Hidden Geometry: If your scene has hidden geometry, this geometry remains hidden every time you load that particular scene.
  • Visible Layers: This property applies if you use layers to control visibility.
  • Active Section Planes: Your model can contain several section planes, which slice your model at a certain point to display a view of the inside, usually from the top or the side.Tip: You can use different section cuts in successive scenes to create exciting animations of your model.
  • Style and Fog: This checkbox determines whether the scene saves style settings, such as edge rendering and fog.
  • Shadows Settings: This checkbox tells SketchUp whether to store all shadow-related information, including type, time, date, and so on, with the scene.
  • Axes Location: This setting affects whether the axes display and the axes position in the scene.

By default, all these checkboxes are selected, so all the properties are saved with your scene. If you don't want to save one of these properties, select the scene in the Scenes dialog, click the Show Details icon () to display the checkboxes, and deselect the checkbox for each set of properties that you don't want to save.

Note that you can't save updates to a property with a scene if that property isn't saved with the scene. See the next section for details about making sure you include all the properties you want to save in an update.

Updating a scene

Updating a scene saves any changes that you make to a scene after you create it. To update a scene, follow these steps:

  1. Select Window > Scenes to open the Scenes dialog.
  2. In the Scenes dialog, select the scene you want to update.
  3. Click the Show Details icon () and make sure all the properties you want to save with the scene are selected.
  4. Click the Update Scene icon () in the upper left of the Scenes dialog.
  5. In the Scene Update dialog box that appears, you can deselect any properties you don't want to save with the update. Remember that if an item wasn't selected in Step 3, that property doesn't save, even if you select it in the Scene Update dialog box. After you're done selecting or deselecting properties, click Update.
Tip: If you don't like keeping the Scenes dialog open, you may prefer to update a scene by context-clicking a scene's tab and selecting Update. In the Scenes dialog, you can also click the Details arrow () and select Update Scene.

Managing Scenes

Some models have a lot of scenes making finding the right scene when you need it a bit tough. SketchUp offers the tools you need to help you manage how your scenes are listed or find a specific scene on the fly.

SketchUp lists scene tabs in the Scenes window based on the order in which they were created by default. You can change how your scenes are listed in one of two ways:

  • Context-click the tab you want to move and select Move Left or Move Right. Repeat the command if you want to move that tab multiple times.
  • In the scenes window select the scene from the list and click the Move Scene Down icon () or the Move Scene Up icon () in the upper right. The tab order updates to reflect the order in the Scenes dialog.

You can also search for a specific scene using the drop-down menu seen next to your scene tabs. You'll see your scenes listed in this menu along with a text search box. Simply start typing and you will see a list of scenes matching your text. Click a scene from this list and the modeling window will update. The scene will also be selected in the Scenes panel.

Deleting a scene

If you no longer need a scene, you can delete the scene in the following ways:

  • Select the scene in the Scenes dialog and click the Remove Scene icon () in the upper left.
  • Select the scene in the Scenes dialog, click the Details arrow (), and select Delete Scene from the menu that appears.
  • Context-click the scene tab and select Delete from the menu that appears.

Customizing thumbnails the Scenes dialog

In the Scenes dialog, you can customize how the scene thumbnails and the list of scenes appear.

The following options enable you to control how the scene thumbnails appear:

  • If you don't want to see the thumbnail images, click the Details arrow() and deselect Use Scene Thumbnails.
  • If you update a scene and want the thumbnail to reflect the update, click the Details arrow and select Update Scene Thumbnail.

Click the View Options () menu in the upper right of the Scenes dialog, and you can select from the following options, which control how your lists of scenes appears:

  • Small Thumbnails: You see only thumbnails, not the scene names, and more than ten thumbnails are visible in the list at once, before you need to scroll in order to see more scenes. However, as the option name indicates, the thumbnail images are quite small.
  • Large Thumbnails: See only large thumbnail images of a scene, not the scene name. With this option selected, you can see about six thumbnail images at a time.
  • Details: This is the default option, which shows medium-sized thumbnails, the scene name, the photo if your scene has one, and the scene description. You see more information but fewer scenes in this view.
  • List: See only the scene names in a list. The text is a bit larger in this view than in the Details view.

Viewing scenes in models imported from the 3D Warehouse

If you download a model from the 3D Warehouse into SketchUp, your download is inserted into your model as a component. However, components don't have scenes.

Tip: To see and access the scenes, you must open the model in a new instance of SketchUp, so it opens as a full model rather than as a component in a model.

To open a 3D Warehouse download as a model, click No when a message asks, "Load this directly into your SketchUp model?" You then see another message that asks, "Do you want to open or save this file?" Click Open and you can see and use any scenes saved with the model.

For details about saving, sharing, or downloading models via the 3D Warehouse, see the 3D Warehouse section of the Help Center.

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