Making Exploded Views
Exploded views are a common way to show details in a drawing of a project. They are an excellent way to show how the parts relate to each other. One of the many advantages of creating a SketchUp model of a project is that you can easily create an exploded view to show whatever details you need to show.
Before you can make an exploded view, you’ll want to make sure of a couple of things. First, that every part in your model is drawn as a component. Second, you’ll want to make layer associations for the components so you can control the visibility of the various component.
There are a couple of plugins available that can help you make exploded views. One of them is called ExplodeImplode from Smustard.com and the other is called Eclate-Deplace, a French-made plugin. I have both of them but this is something I prefer to do manually. It isn’t difficult and I want finer control over where the components end up. Note: There is an “Explode” command in the Context menu. This does not create an exploded view. It destroys groups and components.
Here is the process I use. I draw the entire model with all of the required details. then I make the layers I want and make the layer associations with the components. This gives me the ability to easily control which components are visible.
Next I make a copy of the entire model and move it to one side and behind the original. The copy is the one I’ll use to make the exploded view. It is placed as it is so that I can make both 2D front and right end views of the original model without having anything in the way.
I’ll turn off layers for things I don’t want to show in the exploded view. In this example I’ve turned off the base, the drawers and the doors. Those will be shown in separate views. Then I start making the exploded view by slecting some components and moving them. In the illustration, above, I have selected the face frame and the door runners.
I move the selected components out a bit from the rest of the model. Then I switch to the Select tool (the Space Bar is the default keyboard shortcut for Select) andhold Shift while clicking on the door runners to remove them from the selection set. Then I move the remaining selection out further.
I repeat the process of selecting portions of the model and moving them. Then I “drop” some of the components and continue move the rest. When I am mostly satisfied with the exploding I make a scene making sure to save the camera view. Then I may find I need to tweak the positions of some of the components so they can be seen clearly.
Only explode enough to show the details. Leave some parts assembled because that will help to show how the model goes together.
I then turn off the layers for the sub-assembly and turn on those for another sub-assembly and repeat the process of exploding the model. After making another scene, I move on to another sub-assembly.
I use LayOut to do the dimensioning but if you choose to add dimensions in SketchUp, you can add them in the exploded views. You’ll probably want to create layers for the dimensions so you can show only those dimensions you need.
Near the beginning of this post I mentioned that all of the parts should be components. Here’s the reason for that. If you find, after you’ve made your exploded views that you need to edit the model to add details or change sizes, you only need to edit them in one place and the changes will carry all the way though. If you use groups, you’ll need to go through the file and find all the copies and edit them, too.
Some folks like to make their exploded view in a file separate from the assembled model. I find this just makes more work when the model inevitably needs editing because the changes won’t carry over from one SketchUp file to the other. By creating all the views including the exploded ones in the same file, I don’t need to go chasing down different files to make sure they all get corrected.