3D heaven – Google’s SketchUp

After going on about the the pernicious nature of free voice services – Are voice (profits) history?, I’m about to sing the praises for some free software and as this free software comes from the Google stable, I guess this is acceptable! Of course, you can upgrade to the professional version…

SketchUp is an excellent 3D modelling tool that allows you to create 3D images of any complexity with relative simplicity and ease. I say with “relative simplicity” because its takes some to time to learn how to use it as it is SO different to any other program. On one hand, it is very intuitive to use, but on the other it can be very frustrating while you are learning a completely new way to use your mouse and its associated key clicks.

I’m modelling a house extension at the moment and the drawing on my left took me just a few hours to complete.

SketchUp was developed by start-up company @Last Software which was formed in 1999 and was acquired by Google in March 2006. Looking on the Internet, it seems the feature that attracted the purchase was a plug-in to Google Earth that allowed a user to place their 3D architectural creations on the Google earth maps – ideal for town planners!

Watch this video for a quick overview of SketchUp.

SketchUp is stuffed full of features and there is lots of help and tutorial material to get you going and it really is quite fun to use. There literally hundreds of of different materials to select when you fill a surface and you can download lots of pre-crafted objects to help you along the way.

It fully understands perspective and when you move objects, they get bigger as they get nearer to you – try doing this in PowerPoint! You can even even use PhotoMatch to import a photo and match the perspective of your drawing to that of the photo so that you can superimpose it on the photo in a realistic way.

I could go on for ages but you should download it and try it for yourself – you will hours of fun and have another useful tool to support your creative zeal.

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