Google Sketchup – finally, a CAD for everyone

17 07 2008

By: Vincent Z.

4 minutes – that’s all it took for me to create a decent 3d model of an apartment building, complete with satellite, individual windows, elevator shaft and a rooftop gutter. Oh yes, it’s also textured with bricks and cement.

I’ve used Pro/DESKTOP and autoCAD previously, and hell I had a seriously hard time trying to cover the basics. But one thing to note is that the 2 aforementioned CAD modellers are much more advanced than Google’s SketchUp. So do not expect advanced functions commonly found in SketchUp’s commercial counterparts.



Notable Features:


Extreme ease of use
To create any 3D models, all you have to do is to select one of the planes (x, y, z axis) and start to draw. Say you want to create a cuboid. Simply draw a square and use the [Push/Pull] function to pull it into 3D.

Sharing of user-created models
You can search or upload your designs onto SketchUp warehouse. The best I’ve seen there is a fully detailed V12 engine model. Wonderful.

 Painless Accuracy
Remember drawing equally spaced out squares (be it on a wall or etc). Normally it’s going to be a tough process because you’ll have to estimate using your eye-power, with the complements of constant zooming in and out. Fortunately SketchUp provides drawing cues which allows you to draw with relative ease without the compromise on accuracy.

Google Earth Integration
Google Earth is going to dominate the whole world. Now with sketchup’s integration, it’s going to back my statement further. Draw and place your model anywhere on the map! How cool is that? Now everyone’s going to see your art-sy creations!


Final Word
Google SketchUp is a truly idiot-proof way for many to create their own 3D models. Chances are that on your first try, you won’t impress anyone. But spend more time on it, you’ll find yourself improving, with the actually useful help dialogue. A good alternative to pirating expensive CAD softwares!

Windows 2000 / XP / Vista, Mac OSX

Official Site (tested v6.4.112) (32.5mb)




One response

31 10 2008
Paul Tracey


There are a few extras that IMSI have produced of late that either help out specific TurboCAD users, such as furniture makers, or greatly improve other products with IMSI technology.

One of these is the IDX Renditioner. It is a plug-in for Google SketchUp that provides high-quality photorealistic rendering – fast and easily. Renditioner works directly within SketchUp and lets you control the materials, advanced lighting components, environments, background images. Renditioner is “one button” easy with 3 render options of Preview, Standard and Presentation. It is simple enough for novices and yet powerful enough for professionals. Powerful features are optimized in a jargon free interface. Simplicity paired with speed and working directly in SketchUp, means you can achieve design visualization objectives more quickly. Renditioner offers 16 megapixel renderings for large-scale printing and powerful presentation of your designs.

It is available for Windows XP or Vista on the PC, and OS/X 10.4 or 10.5 on the Mac and runs on either PowerPC or Intel-based Mac computers. As an extra it obviously requires you to already have SketchUp, but will be fine on the free version as well as the Pro version 6.4x or later. Like all photorealistic rendering, IDX Renditioner uses a system’s RAM and CPU power extensively, and is not recommended on systems with less than 1 GB RAM, with 2 GB recommended. Being fully multithreading, dual core, quad core, or dual quad core machines will each improve system performance dramatically.

SketchUp is a nice piece of kit, but with the edition of Renditioner it jumps from good to professional, and then you import the SketchUp drawings into TurboCAD to add another dimension.

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