Google SketchUp is a 3D Modelling software developed by Google Inc.This product is useful to any professional whose job or project involves designing. Think of an interior designer, a graphic designer, a game developer, an architect ,a landscape designer, urban planner, structural engineer, a product designer or any work where there is an element of design, a large part of your work will require you to use a computer. A program such as Google Sketch Up allows you to make 3D sketches and drawings on your computer. There is a lot of competing 3D modelling software in the design field, but to find out the popularity of a program in the market, you have to check the number of times that the software has been downloaded on websites such as CNET.Look for software in the top 5 or top 10 most downloaded, and you will find that Google Sketch-Up is among the list with over 1.5 million downloads at this time of writing.
Whether your project is personal, work related, commercial or just doing it for fun at home, this software will give you all the features that you are looking for. The student and the professional alike will find this program handy to meet their 3D designing goals. It all begins with downloading the program at http://sketchup.google.com/intl/en/download/index.html
The program requires a Windows operating system Windows XP/Vista/7 or a Mac OSX [10.5+] and the file size for Version 8.0.4811 is 40.11MB.After downloading and installing the program on your computer, proceed to launch the program and you will be presented with an intuitive user interface and Help resources that will guide you on how to get started. It is essential to give directions to the first-time user and the program will make sure that you do not get lost. You will be presented with tips as you open the program and you also have an option to watch video tutorials. The Help Center is full of detailed information that strives to explain how to use each and every feature in the program. To get special tips and the latest updates, you can go to the SketchUp blog. So what happens when you open Google SketchUp?
Upon opening the program, you will be prompted to choose a template that you want to work with. Templates allow you to begin working as soon as possible using standard parameters and settings for a particular project. As an example, the Google 3D modelling program has templates for 5 types of projects – the Basic Plan, Google Earth modelling, Woodworking and Architectural Design. Beginners will like the simplicity of this program’s interface from the word go. Unlike what you will find in other programs, there is no clutter of complex features to confuse you on SketchUp.
Google Earth modelling as well as the ability to share finished models using Google 3D Warehouse is one of the features that makes this program cooler than other programs. Version 8.0.4811 added on 17 January 2011 integrates Google Maps into the program as well as color aerial photos and more accurate 3D terrain. The full features of Google SketchUp 8.0.4811 are outlined below:
Google SketchUp 8 Features:
Google SketchUp Pro has 28 features at a price tag of US$495.00 and the free version supports 10 features.With the free drawing program:
1. You can design 3D models
2. You have access to the online Help Center
3. You can use the “Scenes” feature to create animations
4. Print your model views on one page
5. Get access to Google 3D Warehouse (A gallery to find and share 3D models)
6. Import data (images) from Google Earth to use in your project
Draw 2D Shapes:
You can draw 2D shapes using single lines or polylines.
Convert 2D to 3D:
You can convert 2D shapes into 3D using the Push/Pull (extruding) tool. As an example, you can convert a circle into a cylinder or a triangle into a triangular prism.
Draw To Scale:
You can draw dimensioned or scaled models. What you draw on your program is not just artistic work but models that represent real life dimensions.
Create sophisticated 3D models from 2D:
The [Follow Me] tool is an advanced extruding tool that allows you to create complex 3D models from 2D shapes. It is a useful for creating tricky 3D intersections, chamfered edges, bends, fillets, connections and more.
The painting tool (Paint Bucket) is a common tool in many designing programs. It is also available in Google Sketch-Up.
Create Components and Groups:
SketchUp allows you to group your geometrical elements so that they can be easily moved, copied or made invisible as a sub-entity. On the other hand, grouping the geometrical elements into “components” allows you to apply changes to all the components when one component is edited.
Create Shadow Effects:
You can create shadows on your models and make them look realistic using the “Shadow Engine” feature.
View Internal Sections:
The “Sections” feature allows you to see the internal sections of your 3D model. It is a knife that allows you to cut across any point on your model and view the cross section.
Interact with Cross Sections:
When you use the SketchUp Sections feature to cut a section on your model, you can use the “Scenes” feature to interact with the section.Move, rotate or animate the section using this feature. This feature also allows you to save selected views for future editing.
You can walk inside the virtual space of your 3D model, for example a model house, with Google SketchUp.This navigation tool allows you to move, stand or look around inside your virtual environment.
You can insert dimensions on your 3D drawing, for example, the length, width and height of your building. Add text, symbols or icons on your model.
Google SketchUp Instructor gives you instant help related to what you are doing.
Import locations from Google Earth:
SketchUp makes use of another Google product – Google Earth, to give you information about any location you want to use in your project. As an example, you can import Google Earth 3D terrain photos of a desert in Namibia into your project with only a click of a button. Your model can be viewed from Google Earth to give you a different perspective and you can share it with other users on Google Earth.
Import & Export Pictures:
The program allows you to import pictures in your project. The supported formats are JPG, PNG, PDF as well as TIFF. The pictures can be plastered on the surfaces of your 3D model as rendering to give a more realistic look. The free version allows you to import 3DS files as well as export pictures in JPG, PNG and TIFF formats. The Google SketchUp Pro version supports the import and export of more formats in addition to the ones available on the free version.
You can test drive the Pro Version by going to http://sketchup.google.com/intl/en/download/gsup.html
Software Similar To Google SketchUp:
Commercial 3D Modelling Programs
- Sweet Home 3D
- DAZ Studio
- 2D to 3D Video Converter
- 3ds Max
- Bryce Personal Learning Edition
Open Source 3D Modelling Programs
- Seamless 3D
- Wings 3D
To get an idea of what you can create with Google Sketch Up, look at the gallery of models on http://sketchup.google.com/community/gallery.html
There are models for Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Design, Urban Design, Construction and Engineering.