SketchUp is a very easy-to-learn 3D modeler, especially suitable for making orthogonal geometry and sketching in 3D. In recent years, SketchUp has become widely popular in both architectural offices for quick concept modeling, as well as in the open source fabrication communities for testing out designs for furniture, mechanical parts or other small objects. The strength of SketchUp lies in its user interface and small but well thought tool set. This makes is both fast to learn and fast to use. The weaknesses for SketchUp for architectural work is that is mostly suitable for small projects, does not handle other than 90 degree angles very well and has limited capabilities within drawing generation and working with parametric entities. To be specific, you can easily draw a small cabin in SketchUp, but in larger and more advanced projects, SketchUp will be more of a hindrance than an aid towards the end.
The Pro version also includes LayOut for extracting dimensioned 2D drawings from your model, Style Builder to design your own graphical style for SketchUp and both versions have access to the 3D Warehouse for downloading 3D content for free.
Demo courtesy of Google
SketchUp is available from Trimble in 2 versions - Standard and Pro. Both versions are available for Mac and Windows.
SketchUp Standard: This Free version gives you access to all the basic modeling tools and is a good place to start learning SketchUp.
SketchUp Pro: This version costs USD49 per year for a student license. The Norwegian reseller is Graphisoft Norge. This version has more possibilities, most notably you can export CAD formats for working with other programs and you get LayOut for extracting drawings.
School access: We have SketchUp Pro installed at the Computer lab, and it is perfectly possible to open a file from your own SketchUp Standard version and use the school computers to export CAD formats.
Learning SketchUp: Basics
The basics of SketchUp can be learned in about 2 days, after which you should be up and running. The best way to start is to head to the SketchUp training center and go through the video tutorials there. There is also a lynda.com tutorial for SketchUp is you have a subscription.
Learning SketchUp: Intermediate
After completing the tutorials, a lot of your learning is to use SketchUp in your work. While the basics are easy to learn, you need to work at least through one project to become a fast user. The most important things to learn are the shortcut keys (PDF), to use layers efficiently and to make the most out of groups and components. All of these things will make life easier for both you and those you work with. When you understand these things, the Ruby Plugins detailed below will make some tasks a lot faster.
Learning SketchUp: Layout
You can speed up the process of making 2d drawings by learning LayOut, but be sure this particular graphical representation is what you need.
Learning SketchUp: Architecture
There are a few tutorials available that look at specific skills that might be handy during your studies:
SketchUp can be extended using plugins. A good overview is available here.
SketchUp supports plugins and scripting in Ruby. Starting out, you might want to download some ready-made plugins from SketchUp and learn how to install them here. Another good place to find plugins is Smustard.com. Here are a few you that will save you a lot of time:
Bomb - Explodes all groups and components in the model
CloseOpens - This script looks for lines that are supposed to touch and don't, and then draws a line connecting the open segments. (Excellent for fixing contours) - USD20
DeleteCoplanar - Delete coplanar edges from the model
GroupByLayer - Explodes all groups and components, then regroups all entities by layer
GroupByTexture - Groups faces by texture for export to other 3D software (Excellent for rendering - assign new materials to groups)
Instances - Select all instances of a selected component
MakeFaces - loops through your model and creates faces where faces need to be created
ProfileBuilder - Efficient and accurate modeling of intelligent building materials - USD20
RemoveMaterials - A Script that quickly removes all assigned materials from a selection (good for Ambient Occlusion rendering)
Stitcher - Creates a surface between two curves
Curviloft - Loft commands
Soap Skin & Bubble - Tensile structures
Links and further studies
Notes and Appendix
Software develops incredibly fast and not everything on these pages might be updated. If you find any errors, please let us know.
Until Recently, SketchUp was developed by Google. Now, Trimble has acquired the program and due to this there might be references to both Google Sketchup and Trimble SketchUp. These are the same program but you would do well in using both expressions when trying to find information.
SketchUp wont start.
Is you copy of SketchUp legal?