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Google Sketchup

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    6 Reviews
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      11.09.2012 14:15
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      A professional / recreational piece of software.

      Google SketchUp is 3D design software. This review is about using SketchUp in a professional manner, for the purpose of demonstrating internal/external layouts, colour schemes, materials, locations, and ultimately for helping to produce realistic renders of buildings. Clients and planning authorities are the target, for these are the people who need to know what a building will look like before it has been the constructed. Sketchup is free, easy to use, and contains all the tools necessary to be utilised in a proper Architectural practice. I have hence been using it regularly on my placement at an office in Newark to produce 3D mock-ups of various projects - large and small - before uploading snap-shots into a program called Shaderlight (rendering software) and making them look real!

      Where to begin? Sketchup is extremely simple and easy to use. When you load it up, you are greeted by a colourful interface of memorable and eventually recognisable icons which when pressed perform different actions. As you would expect, there are icons for drawing lines, producing shapes, colouring objects, measuring dimensions, and creating text. But there are also icons for moving, extending, pushing, pulling, and generally altering things you have already created. The software has a level of understanding - guessing (almost) the places you want to draw things by snapping to edges of existing lines and highlighting parallel pathways - and the understanding (though irritating at times) seems natural to anyone using SketchUp for the first time.
      The way you move around/negotiate what you have created within the virtual space/zone with which you are able to create is also very straight-forward. Icons are there within the interface: 'Orbit' allows you to twist around where you click at the radius you're currently at, whilst 'Pan' lets you move up, down, left, right on a set plain within the space. What's great about SketchUp is that it also utilises keyboard and mouse short-cuts which makes it quicker to draft and move around - for instance, when pressing in the middle mouse button, the 'Orbit' action to activated. These short-cuts are inter-changeable in the options.

      What I love about the interface, the controls and the icons is their simplicity, and just how easy you'll find it to open up the software and get started without the need to hesitate and work things out. At times it can feel like a game, and it's how detailed and complex you make things that determines the level of difficulty within the game. The heavier you go, the better your model will look and the better output you'll receive - especially after rendering (something I'll explain later).

      Detail can be added to your 3D model (produced using the simple tools above) by utilising some of the more complex tools which follow:
      TEXTURES/COLOURS: Found within the 'paint bucket' icon is a catalogue of 2D fills which you can apply to flat surfaces within the model. From brickwork to timber, vegetation and metal, everything is covered, and more is downloadable. The fills you select can also be altered manually, the tones and crispness for example, can be changed to suit your particular opinion.
      LAYERS: One way to help better organise your model and therefore add greater detail by quickly determining what is what and what needs to be altered, is through building up a network of layers. You can assign certain parts of your model to different key words, and then those key words can be de-activated, and the part of your model classed under them temporarily hidden. This also helps to speed up your computer when the model is becoming cluttered and the computer doesn't have to load them at all.
      COMPONENTS: Grouping lines, surfaces, or even whole models into their own component entity allows you to move that now singular item around within the model without interfering with other pieces. You can double click any component and edit it within its own bubble easily. I recommend having every individual section of your overall model as components.
      SHADOW SETTINGS: SketchUp has its own shadow package which gives items a silhouette. This silhouette can be altered depending on the time of day you wish to create, or the interior lighting effect you wish to mimic. The shadow settings menu is useful when trying to get your renders picture perfect.

      If you go to File, 3D Warehouse, you'll find one of SketchUp's best features. Anything and everything you create can be uploaded to the 3D warehouse network containing the works of all other SketchUp users. Anything and everything you find within that network can be imported (free of charge) into your model and used freely within your space. What's great about this, is the fact it saves you (and everyone else) tonnes and tonnes of time. Using the search bar you type what you're looking for, i.e. 'Small Plant', and with the power of Google's own search engine mastery thousands of 3D items will appear for your choosing. Using SketchUp ion the office, I haven't hesitated, I've imported lots, and I don't feel I've cheated.

      One final thing I want to talk about is Rendering. Rendering involves taking (effectively) a screen-shot of your model from the angle you require, uploading it into separate software - and there are many plug-in rendering softwares for SketchUp - altering some settings, adding in lights, surface changes, etc, and letting the software do the rest. The outcome (if the necessary tweaking has been successful) procures a realistic representation of your model - all shiny and real looking - for your client to ponder over. Shaderlight is the plug-in software I use, and I recommend it thoroughly.

      SketchUp ISN'T PERFECT. When you start working on comlex models, often you'll alter a line and that will in turn alter another line somewhere behind, and this line will remain in the wrong place until 20 minutes later when you suddenly realise and have to Ctrl Z (undo) fifty times, losing all the work you've completed since!!! Models can start behaving strangely as your machine starts to struggle to cope with the memory level and things can appear odd and out of place. The best advice to combat this is save as often as you can, and set up a regular auto-save function (even though it lags your PC for a second every time it saves) because losing hours of work is NOT fun!

      In general, I love SketchUp. When it starts messing up it is usually down to human error, as of course, the program its self is sound. Computers can struggle with the memory load, but this is something you just have to accept and try to work through. There is an unlimited possibility of things you can create with SketchUp, and it easy and fun to do so, that's the bottom line with this product. Oh, and it's free! So give it a go I highly recommend it!

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        14.04.2011 16:08

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        Fantastic software and great for many things.

        Sketch-up is not only for designing models, and building's for plan's in your work. It can be used for a lot of thing's actually. The first week or two, I just built basic structures for the fun of it, houses and such. Then I realized what you can do with it.
        You can export models and then open them in other software to use. For example, you can export them and then use them for a 3D video game! Or something else. You can also export your creations to the 3D warehouse, basically, it's where everyone's creations are. They are available for download to use in your creations, and you can modify, edit them!
        The warehouse is a good feature and lets you share all your best models with the world and also gives you a chance to see how good other people are at making models. The interface of the software is easy to use, not a lot of buttons up the top of the screen. There are move buttons, pull buttons to stretch objects, ruler to measure, line tools and draw tools to draw the models. There is also a texture tool that enables you to ad bricks, carpets, tiles, water, wood, etc...You can also create your own texture which is a nice touch. It's easy to work and anyone can use the program.
        The models you create can also be submitted to Google Earth! There they can be viewed in 3D mode. There is also a preview option to preview your model in Google Earth. It's packed with a variety of features and an easy to use interface.
        The "lite version" is free. However the Pro version is about £295.00. The differences are that in the Pro version, you can export models and do more features with using your models outside Google sketchup.
        The installation is very easy to run through, smooth and quick and it doesn't press you for every detail of your life like a lot of other software do.
        I have sculpted detailed things on it like hot tubs, hotels, chairs and even a burger king. It's hard to sculpt detailed models at first but when you get used to the controls and how they work it's easy. Some people have made building's that are so detailed inside. I download these and look at them in detail then copy them. If you are using it for purposes just for fun, architecture reasons, then you would be better off with the lite version but if you are using it for game etc, then get the pro version.
        I was working with someone online on a 3D game and I help'd sculpt a mine in Sketchup, all the detail showed up in it, exactly like the preview in Sketchup. On the lite version, they can only be saved as "skp" extension. Some software may let you open "skp" models in them but not all.
        I hope I have gave you a good insight and helped you find out more on this product.

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        02.12.2009 23:27
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        great bit of kit

        I decided to check out Google Sketchup after being told I would be using it at a later date in my Architecture degree at university. I found this program to be a great tool indeed, and easier to use than other pieces of 3D design software i have used such as PRO DESKTOP 7. It follows the same sort of rules as other packages, drawing planes and extruding them.

        This program is quite easy to learn but it does take some time to learn it. There are many tutorials on the Google Sketchup web page and on youtube. These tutorials allow you to pause the video and to do it yourself at the same time, which i found to be a great way to learn the program. I still use these tutorials to find out how to do something, they are very useful, and provided at different levels of difficulty, to allow you to progress at the rate you choose.

        This program has a very clever and useful feature called the '3D Warehouse'. This is a huge database of 3D models, such as trees, for you to download and add straight to your model. The warehouse has many items on there and I am yet to need something that they do not have. It also allows you to upload your models onto it. So if you have something that you think could be helpful to others or just want to show it off! then this is the place for it.

        The basic package is free to download. There is also a premium package on offer for a price. I am not sure what you get extra with the premium package, as I have not used it. I have read that it allows add on packages to allow you to animate your models and to better render them, to make them look more realistic.

        The package and tutorial videos are at:
        http://sketchup.google.com/

        More tutorials are available from:
        Youtube.com

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          22.08.2009 20:52
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          Superb CAD design software that is ideal for all users.

          I really do find Google sketchup a wonderful tool I use it so often to help me with design work. I used to use other CAD software however, it was really difficult to use. That is why I love Sketchup so much, I find it so easy to get the finished product that I intended. The interface I find is really simplistic with the tools really well layed out making it ideal to use. There is also an impressive amount of tools that allow you to

          The finished object son skecthup are of a high quality which I find to be really good. I also love how there is a walking mode which allows your model to be walked around. The models can also be easily looked at from a variety of different angles which I really liked because it makes it possible to analyse your model more easily. Its great for getting detailed models created because there are so many measurement tools that I found great to use.

          Overall I found the software to be really responsive and I really liked how it didn't take forever to render the image. There is a push/pull feature that is just brilliant, all you have to do is pull up a flat 2d image and it will become 3d, proving its simplicity! My favourtie part about Google sketchup is the sketchup warehouse feature which allows you to download pre done models. I found this so useful because it saves so much times when you don't have to create unessesary models. There is such a choice that it is great fun to just look at what there is available. For me the fact that this software is free is just exceptional and I really do love it for that!

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            14.08.2009 15:26
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            If you use 3d images for anypart of your life then I recommend this program.

            I stumbled across this fantastic software after reading seantheprawn's review. Now I gave up architecture a long time ago, but I still love designing and this software will also help with my current studies. So what exactly is it? It is freeware 3d modeling program from google. This means that it is completely free to down load the basic one (like it is with google earth), and it will allow you to design models in 3d.

            What are its good points?
            -Free (always a bonus), - Very easy to use, - Doesn't take up much room on your computer, - good for a wide rang of projects., -online free training, -inference.

            *Ease of use*
            If you have experience with design programs, such as corel draw, photoshop etc. then you will find using this very easy and off you go. If you are new to graphic programs, don't despair they provide free video tutorials which will help you along. I do suggest that everyone has a look at the tutorials as they will give you tricks which will speed up the time it takes you to produce your masterpiece. Such as how to use the "Follow Me tool".

            *Range of uses*
            If you need to create a 3d image, for what ever reason, then this s the program for you. It's only function is 3d, so that's where all the development time has been spent, which means that it is a fantastic 3d program.
            You can also import images to either lay on top of your image or import a google earth image and then use it as your blue print.

            *light on space*
            My computer (which can barely run Sims2 with everything turned off) can run google earth, google sketchup and Mozilla Firefox all at the same time. Now my computer is about to be 5, so I am confident that if your computer can access the internet it can handle this. I also haven't noticed any lag.

            *Inference*
            This is google sketchup's big thing. It is an inferring tool. This allows you to raise blocks to all one level, match up sides on a cube and basically gives you guide lines so that you know what you are lining up your line with. Check out the online tutorial on it, very useful and infact it would be very frustrating without this.

            Now that I've sung it's praises it's time for its bad points.
            - 3d only, - walking around, - limited range of textiles, - fiddly, -google earth import is in black and white.

            3d only. Yes ok it needs to be in this so that you can create your master piece. Personally for me I have a high 3d IQ score, basically I can imagine things in 3d, for those of you who can't then obviously you will find it more difficult, but it won't be impossible. They have made it very easy and give you colours for your x,y and z axis, so for example you line will turn blue when you are on the x axis.

            Walking around.
            You can not walk through walls. I know that this seems obvious, but it's really annoying when you have spent ages creating a perfect door, and then you must delete it so you can get through to the other room.

            Textile range.
            Ok yes it is free so I shouldn't complain, but it is so frustrating as they have supplied a limited number of textiles for you to cover your surfaces in. This results in me wanting more. In all credit to them though they do have a sufficient variety such as metals, water, wood, colours and you can edit them by changing their transparency and colour, but still I want more!

            The fiddeliness.
            They have the autofeature where the program guesses where you want the line to connect to, unfortunately sometimes it is wrong and it just won't click to where you want it to as it is too busy thinking you want something else. This is easy to fix, just zoom in which gives the program greater sensitivity or spin around to a different view which has less going on. This autoclick is a common problem in most graphic programs I have used, however it is very useful when it guesses correctly, and it is quite easy to fix.

            Google Earth B&W.
            It is so helpful tracing over a google earth image. But you know what they are like, a little bit grainy, and with trees in the way etc so it's not always clear just where exactly the house ends and the garden starts. Luckily you can decipher this when it's in colour, but when it is in black and white it is almost impossible. I presume that it is in black and white so that it saves space, but maybe in a later edition it could get imported colour and then once you've traced what you need then you could click desaturated google earth image.

            All in all, great program, in fact I spent 7 hours on it yesterday and so far 4 hours on it today. Looses a star as they are some tweaks that it needs, it's not perfect but then again who is?

            P.S. What does Noise mean? I didn't know so i've left it blank.

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              10.08.2009 16:44
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              very useful for producting 3D views quickly

              Google Sketch up is a programme that you can use to design almost anything. Architectural, engineering, furniture design,
              Game designers, etc.

              I use a number of programmes myself for doing 3D architectural drawings and Sketchup is one of my favourite for a number of reasons. The great thing about sketch up is it's free. You can down load it in about two minutes from the website and it is compatible with windows, im not sure about Macs and it doesn't require a massive memory to run, one of my computers only has 1G of RAM and it works perfectly.

              It is also very user friendly and I learned how to use the tools a lot faster than most programmes. There are also free tutorials available which are very good and teach you the in's and out's of the programme.

              I use it mostly for doing my 3D architectural drawings, a lot of the time I want to place my building in its correct environment. There is a tool where if I import a map I can pull the buildings up to the correct height and use the paint bucket tool to render the correct material. I can render an area of about a kilometre squared in a couple of hours. There is also a 3D warehouse where you can go online and download absolutely anything to put in your drawings, like a tree or a bus, or a block of flats.

              The disadvanges I find with sketch up is it's not very good for doing detailed work because it doesn't really use plan and section views like other programmes.

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