Colleague of mine asked yesterday if I can get him something to make simple models of houses. Since my [past] experience with 3D is that of pro-level CADDS5/Optegra and I am pretty sure he wasn't interested in Unix-based graphic workstations cluster… I performed my “fast” software searching routine - also known as “has Google made app for that?".
They did. :) More like bought and improved but still I was soon downloading Google SketchUp. It turned out to be very cute and friendly program…
SketchUp was purchased and is being further developed by Google. Mostly for integration with Google Earth. It's multipurpose by definition but clearly oriented at making house models (just look at that icon).
Core idea behind SketchUp is simplification of modeling process by separating it into two steps:
- you draw something flat
- you create something 3D from it
Looks like this:
Not very efficient (comparing to pro-level) but it's times more easier to understand and perform.
Interface is also simple and pleasant, most tools (around 20) fit on single toolbar and it is entirely mouse-controlled. There are some cute extras like “3D Text” generator.
SketchUp is something like Paint for 3D - it allows anyone no matter how inexperienced to draw something.
I liked extremely easy learning curve (there is bunch of video tutorials available) and disliked lack of text input and not working with exact coordinates (most users can safely ignore this). There are also some coplanar limitations but I think I just hadn't enough time to figure them out.
Since this isn't application I use daily (like most I post about) I surely missed some features. If you are experienced with it - you are most welcome to comment. :)
SketchUp is freeware with costly Pro version available for upgrade.