Sketchup is a lovely creation. A lovely creation that makes me want to pull my hair out and throw my computer out the window at least once a week. It takes about five minutes to learn and five years to master. That being said, there are a few tips that can help keep the fits of fury at bay. These nine practices have completely changed the way I work for the better, and made the modeling process much easier. Here's hoping that they work for you too!
1. The Ctrl + Move Tool: This tool allows you to make copies of an object by clicking and dragging. Simply select the item you want to copy, hit the "Move" key and hold down the Ctrl button as you drag in any direction.
2. Hide Rest of Model: You know when you need to edit a piece of furniture in your model, but can't because you keep getting stuck in walls when you try to orbit? I have your solution. Simply click View > Component Edit and then select "Hide Rest of Model." Everything outside your component will disappear and allow you to orbit to your hearts content.
3. The Garage + Paste in Place: As a practice, I always try to have an empty model to copy and paste things into. Lets say you need to edit an escalator component, but are having trouble because the file is slow. Simply Cut (Ctrl + X) and Edit > Paste in Place it into the empty drawing. Make the changes you need to, and just paste it back into the real thing. By "pasting in place" instead of "pasting" you don't have to worry about re-positioning or any point of origin nonsense.
4. Hide Edges: I had no idea Sketchup did this until my thirteen year old brother showed me how. You can find this tool under View > Edge Style > Edges and it does exactly what it says it will. Depending on the model, it can be a nice shortcut for more realistic renderings (when used in congruent with heavy Photoshopping of course).
6. Two Point Perspective + Ctrl Hold Zoom: You know when you can't get enough in a view because your "standing point" is too close? This happens to me all the time. The image below was exported while "standing" a few feet back from the kitchen island and can't be zoomed out further because there is a wall in the way.
I have found that if you switch the Camera View to "Two Point Perspective" and zoom out while holding down the Ctrl key, the camera will move but the standing point won't. When changing your depth of field isn't working, this is always worth a try. See below:
7. Profiles: I never used to use profiles because they junked up the look of the finished images. However, they are widely helpful when modeling because they expose edges that shouldn't be there. You can turn them on by selecting View > Edge Style > Profiles.
For example, the photo below shows two boxes with squares drawn on the side. The thin lines on the left show that the square lines are fully integrated with the box, and therefore can be pushed/pulled/etc. The thick lines on the right tell you that the square isn't fully attached to the box; the lines are showing up as edges instead of integrated linework so they won't behave the same way.
9. 3D Warehouse Online: As a rule of thumb, I never download components from the warehouse straight into a working model. Its just leaves too much to chance. For all I know, the model could be well built and tidy, but it also could junk up the drawing with a ton of useless layers and materials. I always download models from the warehouse online (as opposed to using File > 3D Warehouse > Get Models) because it automatically opens in a fresh drawing where you can run diagnostics using Window > Model Info.
For all downloaded components I recommend purging everything: make sure all geometry is on Layer 0, get rid of unnecessary materials, and reorganize it into groups that make sense for the way you want to use the model. This will keep you from weighing down your actual model with a ton of crap. Why troubleshoot when you can prevent!
I really hope that these tips can help you the same way they helped me. If you know of any more please tell me! What tricks do you use that have made all the difference?