SketchUp 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.
Refreshingly free of technical jargon
There's a refreshing lack of technical jargon in SketchUp 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 intelligently predicts where you want endpoints to meet and snaps them shut for you, saving lots of time messing around.
The real fun however is when you export your SketchUp 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. You receive a snapshot when you add a geo-location to your model which now includes 3D terrain data plus color aerial imagery.
Easily accessible tools
SketchUp 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.
There are some problems with SketchUp 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. Being free, it also obviously lacks some of the advanced features of many of its heavyweight rivals.
Excellent for novices in CAD
SketchUp provides a refreshingly simple approach to 3D graphic design and modeling and is ideal for non experts in CAD technology.
- Fixed a crash that could occur when loading models with invalid match photo images.
- Fixed a crash that could occur when opening models containing images with certain Exif data on them.
- Fixed an issue where certain models with large textures and nicer transparency could become unusable after toggling x-ray mode off and on.
- Fixed an issue where SketchUp could appear to hang after switching between a scene with no transparency and one with nicer transparency.
- Fixed the Layers toolbar to perform a case-insensitive sort when sorting layers.
- Fixed an issue where 64-bit 4 x 16-bit RGBA alpha images displayed opaque.
- Fixed an issue where artifacts could be seen when holding down the left mouse button and moving the mouse rapidly with the Select tool active.
- Fixed an issue where drag selection did not always work properly after doing a triple-click select.
- Changed the units display of areas and volumes to now follow ISO conventions - e.g., we now display 100 mm2 vs 100 Millimeters2
- Added better error reporting when entering the wrong type of license to SketchUp.
- Changed the Text tool to report the xyz coordinate location when adding text to construction points.
- Windows: fixed a common crash that could occur when opening certain models with large images on XP.
- Windows: fixed an issue where thumbnail images in the Component Options dialog did not display for standard, non-admin users.
- Windows: fixed an issue where cancelling from saving a file with the "File > Save As" menu resulted in a failure to prompt you to save unfinished work.
- Windows: fixed an issue where material (*.skm) files saved on Windows would not display material thumbnails on the Mac.
- Mac: fixed an issue where in model materials were not visible until opening or creating a model.
- Mac: fixed an issue where the Layers toolbar did not change the current layer.
- Mac: fixed Photo Textures to accurately grab textures on Retina displays.