Issue: 7.3 (March/April 2009)
Author: Dave Mancuso
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Article Length (in bytes): 3,588
Starting Page Number: 12
RBD Number: 7306
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IN BRIEF Product Google SketchUp 7 Manufacturer Price Free (Pro version, $495.00) Contact Info http://sketchup.google.com/ Pros Powerful, extensive training resources, 3D Warehouse models available Cons Learning curve for beginners, 3D Warehouse galleries can be a bit overwhelming Rating (1.0-5.0): 3.2
Google continues its slow march. Their end goal is still a mystery, but they continue to release applications. Google SketchUp 7 for Windows and Mac Os X is one of these tools. One of Google's downloadable applications, SketchUp 7 lets you create 3D drawings from simple drawings to complex designs.
At first, it's hard to wrap your head around the way that SketchUp does things. When you open the application, you're presented with an X, Y, and Z axis and a person image to give things perspective. Drawing a shape is easy, and the shape tends to snap to the closest plane of perspective. Making things 3D gets interesting. You grab your shape (with the proper tool chosen) and drag perpendicular to the shape's plane to extrude a 3D shape. A square becomes a cube. But to create say, a room, you must draw another square on top of your first square/cube but a bit smaller. You then punch the new square down, creating a space (hole) in the middle of the cube. The space between your first and second squares' boundaries becomes the wall of the room.
This all makes much more sense if you use the training materials on the Google SketchUp website. At this writing, over sixty short videos are available to help you get the hang of SketchUp.
Once you create your designs, you can share them (or view other designs) in Google's 3D Warehouse. The Warehouse contains a number of galleries of 3D designs. Some show you the possibilities of the program, and others are predone libraries for you to use, placed there by various companies. For instance, one company that sells office furniture has created a collection of 3D versions of its products. You can use them in your projects (or ostensibly place them in a space to see if they'll fit, so you can buy them later). Each time I visit the 3D Warehouse, it grows larger.
Contributing to and using the Warehouse is lessened by the impact of SketchUp's Google Earth integration. You can make models for Google Earth, from buildings to entire cities. The website has fourteen videos explaining the process and a host of examples in the Warehouse. It occurred to me that once 3D models comprise a large part of Google Earth, we'll have the equivalent of a Second Life scenario, with real life terrain.
If I had to guess Google's corporate mission, I'd say that they want to connect all of us with the stuff we want. Google SketchUp seems to match that mission, if you think about its Google Earth integration and Warehouse. Regardless, SketchUp's abilities and self-training options (and price) make it a recommended application, certainly worth checking out.
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