Sunday, February 22, 2015


3D Birdhouse modeled in Sketchup
I've seen so much lately about Sketchup that I decided that I should look into it.

I have been using AutoCAD since version 10 in the early nineties. Needless to say, I'm somewhat entrenched in ACAD's operation.

I think that is a hinderance to someone just starting out in Sketchup.

I first learned how to draft on a board with paper and pencil. AutoCAD is, or was, basically just a virtual piece of paper. All 2D. So you still had to be proficient at visualizing sections and elevations.

ACAD always tried to incorporate some 3D functions into the program but I always found them cumbersome and nobody used it for that. There were third party programs that were much better.

Sketchup sort of bypasses the drafting aspect and is a full on modeling environment. Trying to do a simple blueprint in Sketchup is not really worth the effort. It isn't set up for that. It's a model, not a drawing. That hung me up, a lot. I'm used to drawing everything with lines, not building it with shapes. The interface takes a lot from AutoCAD, there are lots of similarities.

I've spent a few days becoming acquainted with Sketchup and I've watched a lot of tutorials on Youtube as well. The birdhouse rendering is the result of the last two days. I could have built fifty real birdhouses in the time it's taken me to model it. But I'm starting to get the hang of it.

I probably sketch some idea out on paper at least once a day just to hash it out a bit. If it turns into something that I want to build I usually take the hand drawing and lay it out to scale in AutoCAD. Then I can usually find anything I might not have considered when I sketched it. I can usually get a shop drawing knocked out in an hour or less with CAD, depending on the complexity. I have the entire house drawn and I refer back to it constantly, especially the kitchen, where I actually have all the cabinet elevations drawn.

If I tried to model the kitchen in Sketchup it would take me forever and it would be hard to get it completely accurate. It just wouldn't be worth the time and effort. I'm sure someone could do it in no time. Most of the time however, I just don't have a need for a model. But I have several projects that I've been thinking of for a while that might be good candidates.

And Sketchup has a lot of cool features that might be of benefit to me in the future. It has a feature that enables you to bring in a site from Google maps that could be very helpful. Plus, I have seen a lot of awesome looking work that people have done with it who aren't engineers or architects, just folks who like to design. That's what the price tag of Sketchup enables. Cost, free!

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