SketchUp For Dummies
If you're a designer with sketchy computer modeling skills, SketchUp For Dummies is the trusted reference you'll turn to again and again. Aidan Chopra is a former SketchUp evangelist and author of previous editions of SketchUp For Dummies. Rebecca Huehls creates content for the help system on current versions of SketchUp.
SketchUp For Dummies
IN THIS CHAPTER
Comparing SketchUp with other 3D software
Finding out what you can and can't do with SketchUp
Looking around the application
Once upon a time, software for building three-dimensional (3D) models of things like buildings, cars, and other stuff was hard to use - really hard. People went to school for years to learn that software. And if that wasn't bad enough, 3D modeling software was expensive - so expensive that the only people who used it were professionals and software pirates (people who stole it, basically). After debuting in 2000, SketchUp changed all that.
In SketchUp, you don't think about 3D models as complex mathematical constructs (the way computers think). You build models with familiar elements: lines and shapes. To use SketchUp, you don't even need to know how to draw. In SketchUp, you just build, and SketchUp takes care of stuff like perspective and shading for you.
This first chapter is about putting SketchUp in context: where to get it, how it compares with other 3D software, and what you can (and can't) do with it. In the last part of the chapter, you go on a quick tour of the program, so that you know where things are.
Things You Ought to Know Right Away
Before we continue, here's some information you may need:
You get SketchUp by downloading it from www.sketchup.com .
SketchUp works in Windows and Mac OS X. For the most part, SketchUp looks (and works) the same way on both.
SketchUp has a free and a full version: SketchUp Make and SketchUp Pro. SketchUp Make does most of the things that the full version does but is designed for noncommercial use. With SketchUp Pro, you get terrific features that folks like architects, construction pros, and other design professionals need for exchanging files with other software. SketchUp Pro also includes a whole separate application - dubbed LayOut - for creating presentations and construction drawings from your SketchUp models. You learn the basics of LayOut in Chapter 14 .
If you know you need SketchUp Pro, go ahead and download it. You can try it for free before you have to buy a license. After the trial period ends, Pro stops working until you license it.
Comparing SketchUp to Other 3D Modeling Programs
If you're reading this book, we presume you're at least interested in two things: building 3D models and using SketchUp to do so. The following sections tell you something about how SketchUp compares with other 3D modeling programs - how long it takes to figure out how to use it and what kind of models it produces.
Jumping right in
Among the widely available 3D modeling applications, SketchUp is the easiest to use. This software has been successful for one reason: Within a few hours of launching SketchUp for the first time, you can get good enough at SketchUp to build something. You have no thick manuals to read, and no special geometric concepts to understand. Modeling in SketchUp is about grabbing your mouse and making something.
So how long should it take you to discover how SketchUp works? That depends on your background and experience. In general, you can expect to make something recognizable in fewer than four hours. That's not to say you'll be a whiz - it just means that SketchUp's learning curve is extremely favorable. You don't need to know much to get started, but you'll still pick up things years from now. In fact, we've both discovered a couple things just writing this book.
But is SketchUp easy? Lots of people say so, but we think it's all relative. SketchUp is, without a doubt, easi er than any other modeling program we've tried, but 3D modeling itself can be tricky. Some people catch on right away,