SketchUp Pro bucks the trend of expensive 3D modeling software such as 3DSMax and Cinema4D and presents a free, easy to use alternative with which you can even post your creations onto Google Earth for the world to see. The latest version has been integrated with Google Maps too so that geo-tagging your creations is easier than ever.
This professional version of Sketchup is aimed at professionals who need CAD software that's high on power and features, and low on learning curves. It features some useful advantages over the basic version including ability to Export to CAD, add text and graphics to layouts and more advanced features.
There's a refreshing lack of technical jargon in SketchUp Pro and unfamiliar terms to beginners such as the 'Extrude' tool have been renamed to the more obvious 'Push/Pull' for example. There are plenty of helpful hints and guides throughout too helping you get to grips with 'snapping' when you draw rectangles, circles and other shapes. Sketchup Pro intelligently predicts where you want endpoints to meet and snaps them shut for you, saving lots of time messing around.
SketchUp Pro doesn't lack in functionality though despite its ease of use and includes all the usual collection of drawing and filling tools you'd expect, neatly accessible in the toolbar across the top of the screen. Instructor hints pop out on the right of the screen when it thinks you need them. Other options can be accessed via the menu system, or you can choose to place extra palettes on the workspace to save wading through menus. Of particular note is the 'Materials' palette, which contains over 100 different preset swatches, such as vegetation, metal and glass. The Shadow Settings palette is also worth keeping to hand, as it allows you to apply realistic shadows via simple sliders.
The real fun however is when you export your SketchUp Pro drawings into Google Earth. You can send images of your 3D designs via email or upload them for free storage at Google's 3D Web Warehouse. Alternatively, you can geo-tag them in one-step using Google Maps which has now been integrated into Sketchup Pro. You receive a snapshot when you add a geo-location to your model which now includes 3D terrain data plus color aerial imagery.
There are some problems with SketchUp Pro however. Most annoying is when trying to create domed surfaces because of the cumbersome nature of the Extrude tool, although pushing and pulling straight lines is considerably easier. However, the ability to export to CAD format means that anything you find tricky or difficult in Sketchup Pro, you can finish off in another application.
SketchUp Pro provides a refreshingly simple approach to 3D graphic design while providing the power and CAD format export features that professionals need.
- Whether you're designing in context, creating a shadow study or photo-modeling existing structures, SketchUp 8 provides easy access to Google's huge collection of geographic resources.
- We've built Maps right into SketchUp. Adding a geo-location to your model is now an elegant, one-app process.
- The snapshot you get when you add a geo-location to your model now includes 3D terrain data that's more accurate, and -- for the first time -- aerial imagery in color.