WEB & TECH / APR. 03, 2014
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Beyond the Search Engine Part 6: Google SketchUp

Beyond what you would expect from Google, from its search engine and email, to its Trends and Alert services, there are also a few surprises. Things you wouldn’t expect from them. Google SketchUp is one such example.

The success of the software has been spectacular, and what started as a side project (something actively encouraged amongst Google employees) has taken on a life of its own.

What is SketchUp?

SketchUp is 3D modeling software available for easy downloading. There is a free (SketchUp Make) and premium (SketchUp Pro) version, depending on your specific requirements.

What Can SketchUp Do?

SketchUp allows virtually anyone to create fully customizable 3D models, everything from houses and buildings, to fantastical vehicles and spaceships. Design a treehouse for your daughter. Layout the design for your dream kitchen. Create your new business space, complete with the floor layout and office furniture.

The nice thing about SketchUp is that anyone, whether novice or expert can use the software. The website claims that anyone can be up and running within a few hours of installing the program, and there are a number of helpful guides and video tutorials available to that end.

Most projects start with some simple lines and shapes, but these can then be stretched, pulled, rotated, and manipulated into three dimensional renderings of literally anything from your imagination. The sky’s the limit.

Don’t Redesign the Wheel

The 3D Warehouse provides tens of thousands of 3D designs available for free use. From animals, to furniture, from basic building shapes, to window and door designs. Everyone is free to create and share something in the warehouse. Everyone is free to use it. A basic tenet of productivity states that you should not waste time doing something from scratch if you don’t have to. The warehouse removes the need to create the tiny details, leaving you more time to develop and perfect the big picture (pun intended).

You may choose to share a full design in the warehouse, either because you particularly proud of it, or you’d like to elicit some feedback, or you just believe others would find it useful. Obviously, don’t upload anything you don’t want others to see or borrow, as the warehouse is open to all SketchUp users.  

Who Can Use SketchUp?

In a word? Everyone.

It can be used professionally for architecture, construction, engineering, interior design, game design, landscaping, and remodeling. Teachers can use it for a multitude of hands-on projects for their students. SketchUp Pro (available for a paid user license) is a very robust and complete program. Incredibly powerful and feature-rich, it competes against other comparable programs in terms of both price and functionality. The Extension Warehouse is a fully stocked repository of upgrades and tweaks, allowing you to truly make SketchUp fit your professional needs.

Professionals can present, share, and submit projects for approval, even with clients and colleagues not using SketchUp. The free SketchUp Viewer allows anyone to view and print 3D design and models created with SketchUp Pro. Email or upload to a shared cloud storage folder, and present with confidence and pride.    

Using LayOut (an optional upgrade available in SketchUp Pro), you can turn your 3D models into multi-page document sets, complete with dimensions, notes, vector graphics, and images...everything you need to turn your design into a reality.

Or it can be used by hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers for woodworking, playtime, film and theatre set designs, and home renovations. Kids can create working 3D models for their science project. Or their design class in high school. The possibilities are endless. SketchUp Make (the free version) may be all you need for these uses.

So, who can use SketchUp? Parents, kids, students, engineers, architects, designers, theatre and film designers, remodelers, construction workers, interior decorators, landscapers, game designers, woodworkers, carpenters, teachers, professors, hobbyists, and big kids of all sorts. Do you fall into any of those categories? 

Design for fun. Design for work. With SketchUp, you can do both, incredibly well, and incredibly fast.    

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