Designing three-dimensional models (like buildings, cars and packages) doesn’t have to be take years of training just to use. SketchUp offers the same results as other 3D modeling software without the steep price point or the intimidating jargon. In fact, you don’t even have to transition your drawings from 2D to 3D. SketchUp takes care of perspective and shading so you can focus on perfecting your product design.
An inexpensive and easy-to-use 3D modeling software
As an artist, your program should not restrict how you want to create a model.
Sketchup gives you three options to begin your design
From Scratch The home page of SketchUp shows you a little person standing in the middle of your screen. You can opt to delete him to start with a completely blank slate. In Google Earth It will take some time to learn this, but SketchUp allows you to create a model on top of a Google Earth aerial photograph. Files Take your inspirations to SketchUp by building a model based on a JPG or CAD file of the product you want to build. Just like Google Earth, it’s a useful but advanced feature.
Perfect training ground for new designers
When it comes to 3D modeling software, it doesn’t get easier than SketchUp. The program’s popularity lies in how quickly you can build something, even if you’re using it for the first time. In fact, you can build something recognizable in under four hours. That’s not to say you’ll be a sketch whiz in that time – it just means that SketchUp’s learning curve is shallow. It’s not even necessary to read it’s manual or be familiar with special geometric concepts. You will only work with line and shapes, which gives you the freedom to arrange things how you want it. Well, how you want things to be arranged in 3D that is.
SketchUp focuses on making things appear hand-drawn by using non-photorealistic rendering. This means you won’t be bothered by providing measurements, plans, and sections, but you also won’t be able to create extremely detailed models like buildings and mansions. These limitations are expected given that making model views look like photos are a specialized undertaking.
Simple and functional design
With the addition of small-scale modeling, SketchUp is just like any program you already use. It only has four main areas that you need to be familiar with.
Modeling Window this is the big area in the middle of your screen, and where you will spend most of your time in SketchUp. It’s sort of like a window to the three-dimensional world since it’s always in 3D view of your model, even if you’re looking at it from the top or sides.
ToolbarSketchUp really makes it a point to do the heavy lifting for you; instead of bombarding you with tons of tools to choose from, you’re greeted with the Getting Started toolbar. It has all the essential tools and commands to get started. Once you’re confident enough to use the rest of them, just click the arrow to the right of the toolbar.
Dialog Boxes SketchUp doesn’t have a technical name for its dialogue box, but it’s like palettes or inspectors you find in other modeling programs.
Context menu whenever you right-click things in your modeling window, the context menu will appear with commands and options to open. It only shows a limited set of tools, but all of them are relevant to what you’re doing or the area that you selected.
Where can you run this program?
A powerful but compact tool, Sketchup can run on both Windows and mac OS X devices with these minimum requirements:
- Windows 10, Windows 8 and Windows 7
- NET Framework version 4.5.2
- 64-bit version of Windows
- 1 GHz processor
- 4GB RAM500MB of free hard-disk space
- 3D class video card with 512 MB of memory or higher and support for hardware acceleration
- 3-button, scroll-wheel mouse.
Mac OS 10.14+ (Mojave), Mac OS 10.13+ (High Sierra), and 10.12+ (Sierra)
- Quicktime 5.0 and web browser
- 2.1+ GHz Intel™ processor 4GB RAM
- 500MB of available hard-disk space.
- 3D class video card with 512 MB of memory or higher and support for hardware acceleration 3-button, scroll-wheel mouse.
Is there a better alternative?
SketchUp can only offer the basics of 3D modeling. If you’re looking to deepen your knowledge of CAD software, look no further than Blender. It offers an advanced mesh-based direct modeling software to create, well, anything you want really. Its main use is for video game development and animation, but you can practically create any 3D printable model you want. But with all that power, you’re going to need to know exactly what you want to design before you start your project.
This is not a tool that calls itself ‘free’ but doesn’t offer anything useful. Sketchup is the perfect CAD software to start learning 3D modeling – or even discover if you like designing in the first place. For sure, it will amaze you how easy it is to come up with a well-thought-out three-dimensional model of your own.
Should you download it?
Yes. It's a great piece of software to start learning or even just dabble in 3D modeling.