We’ve been evaluating SketchUp to determine if we can use it for some design projects, and to support some of our marketing efforts. The results have been extremely positive, and I am quite impressed. I’ve been working with it for about a week and a half, and only an hour or so a day, so my SketchUp knowledge and skills are pretty superficial. Each time I use it is a new learning experience – a voyage of discovery. I try to approach the evaluation from the perspective of “I wonder if SketchUp will do this . . . .” And, so far, I haven’t been disappointed at all. Quite the opposite. As I learn more about how to apply it, more doors, and more ideas open up.
SketchUp was originally developed for use by architects, and it does an excellent job if you need to put together a quick building sketch or design. For example, this rough 3D model of our house took about 5 minutes to put together-
- Draw the house footprint
- pull it up to form the basic shape
- slice the roof in half and pull the center up to form the peaked roof
- pull a section out on the side to form the bump out
- roof the bump-out
- add the porch and post
- add the car, front door, and windows from the component library
- create a drive way
- select the colors and textures
- turn on shadows and rotate the model to the angle you want
You can keep on adding components, editing, coloring and texturing to your heart’s content. You can also enter specific dimensions so that your model matches the real world as much, or as little, as you like.
Architects really like to give their clients a ‘walk through” of the proposed design. Customers aren’t usually good a visualization from a 2 dimensional blueprint, but easily get a feel for the design when they can take a visual tour of the building. SketchUp is extremely good at this. You create pages consisting of different views of your model from different angles. SketchUp will run a slide-show of the pages – which is very useful in the design process to quickly jump back and forth between viewpoints as you doing the development and design. It also allows you to output a video file of the page slide-show.
To see how this would work with a non-architectural project, specifically a 3D robot design, I put together a short (37 second) walk through. To make things more interesting, and challenging for the software, I placed the robot model in an office complete with doors, concrete floor, a brick wall, and even a painting.
3D robot design – isometric view (jpg file)
The sequence consists of 16 views (pages). SketchUp moves from page to page in sequence, interpolating and filling in the video frames between each page. The resulting video walk through was much better than I expected. It has a few minor problems – like the shadows on the floor breaking up for a moment. But, in general, I’m very pleased. This technique should be very useful in the design process.
Video Walk Through: Download 3drobot_050204.avi (4740.0K)
Note: The video file is fairly large (5 megabytes)