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I am building a model of my house with a view to using it to explore different changes as part of a major redecorating project. I have done some work using sketchup, but have run into problems because (for example) adding a skirting board affects the wall, such that removing the skirting board leaves a gap at the bottom of the wall. If the alternative skirting board is smaller, then I have a gap.

I would like to model each room as a simple box to which I can then add (as different scenes?) different skirting boards as well as other fixtures and fittings.

Also I would like to be able to have a view where the walls go semi-transparent to I can show details of wiring or plumbing, but still see enough of the walls to see where the wiring or plumbing is.

I'm a bit of a 3D noob, but have used sketchup enough to get frustrated at its limitations. How would you recommend using parent / child, groups, layers or scenes for this?

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There are several ways to go about this. You named most of them in your question actually.. You could use parenting, and you could even use multiple files, however here are the most practical ones I could think of:

  • Hide and show objects as needed
    You can hide the selected objects with H, and you can unhide all objects with AltH. You can also use the outliner to toggle visibility, which combined with the Groups view, you could use to hide/unhide groups of objects (you can group the selected objects with CtrlG).

  • Use multiple scenes
    For an object you want to appear in more than one scene, select it and press CtrlL> Objects to scene, then select the scene you want it to appear in (aside from the current scene).
    Note that modifying the object in any scene will update it in the other scenes as well.

  • Use layers
    You can move the selected object(s) to different layers by pressing M and selecting the layer(s) you want the object to appear on (use Shift to select multiple layers).
    Any objects on at least one of the visible layers will be displayed (unless hidden in some other way).

    Some useful shotcuts for handling layers:

    • Pressing numbers 1..9 (0 is layer 10) will set that layer as the visible layer. You can use Shift to keep the existing visible layers visible, and you can use Alt to operate on layers 11..20.

    • ` will toggle all layers visible (press it again to go back to the previous layers)

    This is probably the most intuitive option (also arguably the fastest, as you can use convenient shortcuts like M), however you are limited to 20 layers and layers cannot be named (I sometimes write down what is in each layer with the text editor).


I assumed this is just for real-time display. If you want to animate and render this, then that's something else..

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  • $\begingroup$ thanks, really useful, certainly for now I'm not planning animation. Layer limitations really useful to know up front. Big learning curve ahead! $\endgroup$ – pootle Jun 7 '14 at 8:56
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Yes you can model your house so that you can turn details on and off. You would probably not want to use different scenes, as in Blender, "scene" describes something larger that what you interpret it as. Also, rather than making walls "go semi-transparent", it would probably be easier to make two walls occupying the same space in the mesh, one normal, and one semi-transparent. When you wanted to hide the interior details (like wiring), you'd turn on one, when you wanted to see the wiring, you'd turn on the semi-transparent one, and turn off the solid one.

The same principle would apply towards the skirting. You'd make the various types of skirting you want to consider separate objects, and turn it on or off for display as needed.

This is not the only way to achieve these effects, though.

Blender has the capabilities to do what you want, but in my view, you don't know Blender well enough to achieve the effects you want. I"d suggest you consult my answer at enter link description here, and take one of the online courses I link to there to learn more about Blender before you start trying to do the model of your house. Because of the complexity of the project you wish to undertake, I think it will take much less time in the long run to learn Blender, and then make the model, than to try to make the model and learn Blender at the same time.

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