Google SketchUp

My partner has recently decided that it is a good idea if we start redecorating and redesigning my house however unfortunately it looks like a large number of our plans will consist of taking a sledgehammer to the interior walls of the building.I really do have very limited skills when it comes to DIY so I won’t be undertaking this myself however I would like to see how our plans will look before any work takes place which was why I was interested when I heard about a free program by Google called ‘SketchUp’

I know that you’re probably bored of me talking about software provided by Google but it really does seem that a large amount of the good quality free software out there at the moment is produced by this one company.I’ll be honest in saying that I don’t understand their business strategy as you’d have thought a company making billions from search engines wouldn’t concentrate on developing free software but I don’t think any of us are complaining.

SketchUp is a 3D modelling application that allows you to mock up pretty much any object from a football to an entire house.The software itself is a rather modest 19mb in size so on a broadband connection you should be able to download and install it in less than 10 minutes.

Most 3D software is fairly complicated for the newbie to use – I’ve tried my hand at it several times and have always given up within an hour or so.Google SketchUp is a little different – just by finishing the short tutorials that come bundled with the program you will immediately have a fair idea of what you’re doing.The program uses a fairly minimalist approach when it comes to the user interface which leaves maximum room available for the canvas area however if you don’t mind cluttering your view and wish to add additional toolbars this is of course possible.

To start drawing simply use the mouse to draw a two dimensional shape and then select the push/pull tool to extend the shape into the third dimension and once you’ve created your shape it can be painted or have a material effect added to it.For example if drawing a house you could dip into the materials palette to quickly and easily add effects such as sandstone bricks and a green grass garden.Additionally artwork can be easily imported from other applications and SketchUp will automatically change the perspective to suit your model.

As you would expect shadows can be added to all objects and a nice additional touch is that you can set the time of day and the month of the year to project realistic shadows based on these options.

Once you’ve finished creating your scene an accurate render of it can be viewed using the free Google Earth application or alternatively you can upload and share your model with other users via the free storage space provided by the associated ‘3D Warehouse’ website.

If you need further help using SketchUp there is an animated instructor panel present within the application and additionally the support website includes a searchable knowledge base, FAQ section and an e-mail support link.

Should you have a pressing need to design a new project on paper before beginning it in reality or simply fancy dabbling in learning how to use 3D software head to summerise, the simplicity of Google SketchUp lends itself to the novice user and the fact it is free of charge makes this an incredible application.


About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.