View Full Version : Free 3D design tool from Google
04-27-2006, 01:56 PM
A while back Google bought a small company in Boulder CO that makes a very nice and easy to use 3D design tool called SketchUp. Just today, Google released a free personal version of SketchUp. While it probably won't be useful for doing boat design work, it is _very_ nice for doing things like designing/laying out a shop or house. It also integrates nicely with Google Earth and you can share your models with others.
Here is the link:
There is even a set of 3D woodworking components (workbenches, table saws, etc):
I am going to be using this to design the interior of my new shop.
04-27-2006, 03:28 PM
I was looking at Sketchup a while back, but decided it was too expensive ($495) for what I wanted to do.
It got great reviews on the various CAD forums:
There's a book on Sketchup too: http://cadgarage.com/sketchupbookv5.html
But Google has bought them. That's great!
I'll be installing it soon.
04-27-2006, 04:34 PM
Free vs Pay Version?
Seems that mainly the 3D export and print functions are crippled and their is limited or no terrian modeling. That seems fair!
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
So what's the difference between Google SketchUp (free) and SketchUp Pro 5? Lots, actually:
- Pro users are able to print and export raster images at higher-than-screen resolution.
- Pro users have access to the following 3D export formats: DWG, DXF, 3DS, OBJ, XSI, VRML and FBX.
- Pro users are able to export animations and walkthroughs as MOV (Mac) or AVI (Windows) files.
- Pro users get the Sandbox Tools (for organic modeling of terrain, etc) and the Film & Stage Tools (for pre-viz work).
- Pro users have access to free email tech support for two years after they buy SketchUp Pro.
- Finally, only SketchUp Pro is approved for commercial use; the Free version is licensed for personal use only.
The Pro version of SketchUp still costs US$495/469/315£, and it's still available for try-out and sale on our website, or by calling Nancy, Chris, Tom, Jen or Steve (in the US); Matthew ( in the UK); Joćo (in the EU), or any of our dozens of international distributors and resellers. If you'd like to check out Google SketchUp (free), or if you know anyone else who might like to, here's where to do it.
Above info from: http://www.sketchup.com/index.php?id=1439
04-28-2006, 07:46 AM
I've been using SketchUp for about a year and a half. Here are some things I've done. Very easy and intuitive program to use.
A study for an idea I haven't tried out:
Incomplete model of the Weekender:
Bruce's Freeship drawing of Vesper. Imported into SketchUp, fiddled with a little and rendered in Kerkythea.
Unfortunately you wouldn't be able to do this with the free version of SU because you cannot export the file to use in the rendering program.
Peter Malcolm Jardine
04-28-2006, 10:16 AM
Are these programs difficult to use for a computer dolt like me? They are extremely impressive at first glance...
04-28-2006, 11:37 AM
Peter, I think you'll find SketchUp extremely easy to use. It was originally designed to be the digital version of sketching on a napkin. you can draw very loosely or tight. It's up to you.
I've been making tutorials for some of my woodworking friends who have SU. If you get going and have some questions I'd be happy to answer them.
04-28-2006, 12:16 PM
Nice to see what can be done. I have only played with SU a little, but it seems pretty easy to learn. But, one thing that wasn't clear to me is how to do more complicated curved surfaces, like the pram you have done. How did you do that? Any hints would be greatly appreciated.
04-28-2006, 04:01 PM
Brian, sorry for the delay in rsponding. Busy day in surgery.
In the case of the pram and Bruce's Vesper, I imported a DXF file which had already triangulated the surfaces.
SketchUp only creates planar surfaces so you need at least 3 lines to close the surface. In the case of the pram there is a diagonal line between the intersections of the "station" segments.
I'll make a wire frame view and post it either tonight or tomorrow.
Hold Ctrl and use the eraser tool to smooth lines--that's what I did on the pram. Hold the Shift key and use the eraser tool to hide lines. I did that on the exterior of the boom study to hide the seam lines between birdsmouth staves.
Hope that helps some.
By the way, even if you can't import DXF or other CAD files into Google SketchUp, you could still make these drawings. It would just take much longer is all.
04-28-2006, 05:27 PM
Brian, here's a screen shot of the hull with hidden geometry turned on. I hid the ribs, knees and stuff so you could see just the hull.
04-28-2006, 06:27 PM
Beautiful work, Dave! I've seen the Vesper already, of course, but the others are new to me. I especially like the steering mechanism and the birdsmouth spar section.
04-28-2006, 07:22 PM
Thank you Bruce.
For the new users of SU, the number one piece of advice I can offer is to group early and group often. Make groups or components of parts as you draw them. In the case of the birdsmouth spar sketch, I drew one stave, made it a component and then copied it and moved the copies into place. I edited two components separate from the rest to make them wider so the spar would have an oval section.
You'll find if you don't make groups or components of parts of the model that other geometry will stick to it. By grouping you avoid that.
A component is a special case of a group. If you edit one copy of a series of like components, all instances of that component get edited at the same time.
The through deck blocks in that drawing are also drawn as components. I drew one and copied it, then rotated that copy to create the opposite block.
In the drawing of the steering mechanism (which is drawn based on the steering mechanism in my boat) the chain links are all copies of a single link component. The spokes of the wheel as well as the parts of the rim between are also copies of a single component. The blocks, pillow block bushings and cable are done the same way.
A side benefit of using components for things like that is that it doesn't tend to bloat the file size. SU doesn't have to keep track of the geometry for 50 chain links. It only has to deal with one and then placement of the copies.
Another tip is learn to use the mirror function. It's a special case of the Scale tool. To mirror a bit of geometry, wheter group, component or not grouped, select it, select the Scale tool. You'll get green handles all around the bounding box of the selection. Start pushing a center one on one side parallel to the mirror plane. Push that handle through the selected geometry. Once you've started the scale operation type -1 and Enter. Presto! A mirrored copy.
If you were drawing a boat hull, you could draw a half hull, copy it, mirror the copy and move it into place.
In this view of the Stickley sideboard the cabinet doors right hand door component is a mirrored copy of the left door component. By mirroring it any editing done one the left one is done in the appropriate place on the right one. For example if I were to draw the hinge mortises on the left edge of the left door, rthey would show up on the right edge of the right door.
By the way, all of this was drawn in SketchUp, exported as an OBJ file and imported into Kerkythea for rendering. That's where the shadows and lights come from. even the Maxfield Parrish painting was put in in SketchUp.
05-31-2006, 01:29 AM
I posted here a few years ago about Sketchup. :) An architect friend uses it at work even though he has access to much more expensive programs. Pretty cool.
Joe ( Cold Spring on Hudson )
05-31-2006, 07:10 AM
Dave R as a former Industrial designer fluent in the early uses of CAD and design and drafting tools like Illustrator, VersaCad & Velum. I have to say WHOA you do some seriously nice work. Now I'm off to see if Sketchup is Mac capable. Probably not :( , I just got the mac version of Google earth so maybe there is hope ;)
Joe ( Cold Spring on Hudson )
05-31-2006, 07:32 AM
You have selected to download a FREE Trial Copy of SketchUp for Macintosh OS X (version 10.3 or later)
05-31-2006, 07:37 AM
It's amazingly easy to learn.
My Dad wants to build a church-shaped garden shed, and asked for a sketch...so I downloaded Sketchup, ran the introductory tutorial, and had a 3D model, with scaled dimensions and a structural cross-section, within the hour. (For comparison, it took me a week to get the hang of TurboCAD and Rhino 3D, and longer still to get comfortable with FREE!ship).
I don't use SketchUp, but we use it here at the office. One of our younger guys is using it as a design/selling tool. Here are some examples of his work. BTW he does video walk thrus using sketchup as well as use Google earth to do fly ins.
He imports a CAD drawing and works from there.
05-31-2006, 08:59 AM
Bruce, that's an excellent shed drawing. Just a warning toyou, though. One of these days you're going to be looking at a photo on your computer and you'll find yourself trying to orbit around to get a look from another viewpoint. That's a common complaint among SketchUp users. ;)
Just to show a few more things I've drawn,
Workbench design. this is only a screen shot which accounts for the low resolution.
Chadd Hamilton's sled design: This was unfinished. I hadn't rounded the corners on the back support slat.
Moser influenced table
Woodrat drawn in SU, rendered in Kerkythea.
05-31-2006, 12:07 PM
WOW! That's pretty impressive for a free program. I use SolidWorks every day, and it would take a bit of work to model that pram even in a $5000+ 3D CAD package. Does it have a loft function too (smooth curves connecting sequential cross-sections)? I probably won't download it, because I have an extra copy of SolidWorks on the computer at home and I don't want to learn another program, but it seems an incredible thing for free.
The "cloud lifts" on the workbench are a very cute touch.
05-31-2006, 01:02 PM
Keith, thanks for the compliments. SketchUp will make Bezier curves but at this point no splines. The pram would be fairly simple with its chines. It would only be a matter of drawing half of each station, copying and mirroring them, then joining them and conecting the corners between stations.
A slightly different application but this one was done using the Follow Me tool. I turned the profile on the left into the crown molding on the right in about 3 seconds.
p.s. Keith, I sent you a PM
Joe ( Cold Spring on Hudson )
05-31-2006, 01:41 PM
You do such nice work.
My Industrial design trigger gets punched when I see certain things like this. Why not connect the sled runners to the back in one continuous strip think how cool that would look. One loop from the back rest twist around to the runners. Very simple, very nice. :D
05-31-2006, 01:58 PM
Joe, thanks and it could be done. I only just drew it the way Chadd designed it.
It could be an interesting bent lamination project though. Especially if it was done in one glue up operation.
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