SketchUp began as an independent software company, @Last, in 1999, located in Boulder, Colorado. SketchUp is a described as “3D for everyone,” a general purpose 3D content creation tool. The intent of the founders was to create a software tool easy enough for anyone to create 3D content using intuitive drawing controls. Due to the development of a Google Earth plugin allowing 3D objects to be displayed in Google Earth, Google purchased @Last software in 2006.
SketchUp is a lot of fun. Fun, and pretty easy to use. In order to learn SketchUp, I thought of a design problem. SketchUp is not merely about creating buildings with which to populate urban areas. SketchUp is a 3D design tool; anything can be designed using the software. Being a Sci-Fi fan, I designed my own Jupiter 2, from the Erwin Allen TV show “Lost in Space.” Then, I designed the space pod introduced in Season 2 of “Lost of Space.” SketchUp also has a utility to create fly-thru video. Cool stuff.
How is SketchUp useful, though?
Buildings and structures created using SketchUp can be uploaded into Google’s 3D Warehouse. Structures uploaded to 3D Warehouse can then be posted to Google Earth and displayed. A web site using Google Earth’s API can create a custom application that would allow a web site visitor to engage in a virtual tour of a downtown area, a stadium, a business complex, a park, or a campus.
Concept3D (Boulder, Co) is a company leveraging talent and knowledge to help provide businesses and communities opportunities for people around the world to become familiar with a place well before they visit. Check out the video below; you’ll see what I mean.
Google SketchUp is provided to K-12 and Higher Education for free. Many schools use SketchUp in art classes; some schools offering design or vocation classes have students develop 3D objects depicting the school or campus, nearby locales, or design nifty 3D objects, like aircraft, vehicles, spaceships, etc.
Google SketchUp also comes in a Pro Edition. With SketchUp Pro, graphics can be exported to a number of different graphic formats, plus dimensioning elements and text. An individual is charged for Google SketchUp Pro; schools can receive a Google grant to reduce the cost to $0.
If you have an art class, or perhaps home school, or instruct a design class, or even a computer graphics class, you should consider SketchUp.
SketchUp also supports the Ruby programming language.