DH Tool Review: SketchUp

sketch up house

The tool known as SketchUp 2015 is a CAD (Computer Aided Design) software used in the design of 3D models that can be later exported to other programmes for use. If you have used CAD software before this then learning how to use SketchUp will be very easy, If you are a beginner at 3D modelling and you feel you don’t have the skill or the money to pursue a career or hobby in 3d modelling then sketch up is the perfect answer for you.

Gathering information

I first heard of sketch up from a friend and then I found it in the Dirt Directory. I went to the official website and found that it is 3D modelling software with a simple layout. The website gives information about SketchUp and has a page providing information on fourteen different areas SketchUp can be used for. The website also includes the 3D warehouse for SketchUp that is a catalogue of different 3D models by different users using SketchUp.

In other Articles and websites outside of the official website I found two different types of opinion on SketchUp. The first opinion is in many articles and reviews is that SketchUp is very good tool and easy to use. The second opinion I found in other articles and reviews is that SketchUp is a step back in CAD software because it is too simple. Any other pages I have found on SketchUp are usually blogs or forums about how it does not run well but this would be due to computer requirements to use SketchUp. In what I gathered I think SketchUp would appear to be a popular tool among its users.

Now since there were opinions that were against the simplicity of sketch up I went ahead and downloaded the free version from the official website. The information I wanted to gather from using it is to know if it is truly too simple and that should I Consider it a real CAD software or should I not if it is too simple.

Maturity / stability of the tool

The first version of sketch up was known as SketchUp 2000 which was designed to for use by everyone that does not have experience. The first version of SketchUp was designed to include very simple tools.  A new version of SketchUp would be released every year with some new features and changes while still keeping SketchUp easy to use.  The main differences between SketchUp 2000 and SketchUp 2015 are that that SketchUp 2015 includes more tools, it is more advanced and the interface is nicer.

I want to discuss the pros to SketchUp that includes how it is a decent tool for beginners who have never used CAD software before. The thing that makes SketchUp good for beginners is that it has feature that is an instructor window. The instructor window is a window that describes what each tool you move the mouse over does with a little video that shows to tool at work. Not only is the instructor window convenient but it prevents the user being unaware about how each tool works.

In my use of SketchUp at home I have only been using the main tools to design simple shapes and objects. To make an ordinary cube in SketchUp will only take about five minutes while making something much more difficult like a car or a plane could take hours. In my own experience of using SketchUp I find the user interface very convenient.

The user interface is simple as the main tool bar isn’t cluttered like in other programmes. The interface does not have every tool a person can want. Some key actions can only be performed using various buttons or methods. In other CAD software a person can find many tools to complete actions but in SketchUp it is lacking in those tools but actions can be still completed only with more difficulty. SketchUp performs well on my home computer I haven’t found any technical problems such as crashing or bugs. I have found some reviews online however that says that they have experienced crashing of the software. This problem would have to do with the power of the computer.

You can export 3D models in SketchUp in a number of formats as 3D models or 2D images. Unless you have the pro version of SketchUp you cannot export in all formats. If you have the free version like I have you can’t export in most of the 3D formats. The main one you can use in the free version is COLLADA which is a format that is used in many 3D programs meaning even if you don’t have the pro version you can still export to many other programs.

Sustainability of the tool

SketchUp has its own form of community of people who share their designs and information involving SketchUp. In the main toolbar I have already mentioned there is a tool that allows you to get objects from the community and include it in your SketchUp design. This tool is 3D warehouse that I have already mentioned. The SketchUp community includes many published objects by its members that other users can use if they were designing something like a house or vehicle or just for fun. If you go online you can find various videos by people making objects in SketchUp including tutorials.

A scenario where you would need something like the 3D warehouse would be if you were making a model of a house and you needed to include some furniture. You can access the 3D warehouse to get models of chairs, tables etc. When doing such actions in SketchUp you will have to consider the size of objects you are getting from the 3D warehouse so that the objects are not too big or too small. From what I have gathered I have confirmed that SketchUp has a very active community supporting it as new versions come out each year.

Sustainability of my research

After gathering information and using SketchUp at home I am able to understand how the tool works and the opportunity’s it provides to the user. I have said that SketchUp is an easy tool for beginners but once you do get beyond using the basic tools some things become rather difficult to do without practice. In doing some action you will need to go through some menus or use a combination of buttons on your keyboard. One of these things will be making assemblies of multiple objects. Without practice and the use of guides on the internet using multiple objects will be difficult to do.

In my evaluation of this tool I want to express my overall opinion on this tool. When I gathered information from the web about the SketchUp I stated I found two different types of opinion. I share the opinion of those who believe that sketch up is not a step back as CAD software. I think it simplicity can be considered overrated as I feel its simplicity does not make the program incapable of making advanced 3D models. Overall I believe that SketchUp can provide a learning experience when it comes to CAD and that anyone interested in CAD can get a learning experience through the use of SketchUp.

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