Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Review: Google SketchUp

Google’s SketchUp is a great program to get you started with creating your own 3d virtual objects, buildings and worlds.

For months I had wanted to check out Google’s SketchUp application but never got around to it. I’ve been in love with 3d graphics for years but never spend enough time on it for my liking. With things at work getting a bit quieter for the summer, I found time to download and install the SketchUp Viewer and the free tool itself, but just had time to work on it today.

I was amazed! Even though the program runs a bit slow on my computer (due to either the problems I’ve had with Windows recently or the fact that I have a crappy video card) I was very impressed with what can be accomplished with only learning 2 design tools and 3 navigation tools!

When you start up SketchUp, you are provided with the “tips” screen, which they call the Learning Center. The first tip has a link to a model, so you should click on that link and it opens a “model” that has been designed as a multi-tabbed tutorial. Each tab of the tutorial has some information on how to use a given tool and you can actually use each tool from within the tutorial. In 15 tabs it shows you how to create a relatively complex object or building with only 2 creation tools.
The 3 navigation tools it introduces are the Orbit, Pan, and Zoom tools:

And the 2 design/create/edit tools are Square and Pull-Up:

The “pull-up” style of building a box from a flat plane is nothing new, as it is a common tool used in 3D graphics modeling packages such as Maya and Wings3D and others, but I’ve never quite had it explained so clearly and concisely before.

Google SketchUp offers a clean interface, helpful tutorials (which I will definitely check out) and an interesting Model Warehouse feature which will keep you busy for well…months! I’ll definitely be trying out some more of the program to see what can be created. At the end of the tutorial, I was able to create quite a complicated object considering it started with only 1 square shape. Click on the image to view a slightly bigger version:

Write a comment and let me know what you think about Google SketchUp and what other tutorials you’d want to see on the program, or any other tutorials you’d like to see. I’ll do what I can!


Phil Shapiro said...

I'd love to see a tutorial (or explanation) of SketchUp's Follow Me tool.

Rick Henderson said...

Thanks for your comment Phil. Sorry it took so long to respond. Although I had trouble finding a place on your many blogs to send a comment! I hope to get more into Sketchup when I get the chance.