Lord knows I love me some Google SketchUp. Every time I turn around it seems, Google's finding a way to make it better. Somehow, they keep making it more intuitive as they make it more powerful. I found out last Friday that SketchUp is gearing up to roll out a new release and I cannot wait to see the next iteration of this software.
SketchUp comes in two versions, SketchUp Free and SketchUp Pro. SketchUp Free packs all of the modeling and visualization features of SketchUp Pro. It's intended for use by regular folks, but it's powerful enough that a lot of professionals use it. The difference between the two versions is that the tools for presentation, analysis and documentation that come with SketchUp Pro are missing from SketchUp Free. SketchUp Free has no restrictions on file size, rendering or performance. Why anyone would use any other rendering software is beyond me.
Part of why I love so much about SketchUp is the ever expanding and ever more useful 3D Warehouse. There are thousands and thousands of models in the Warehouse and they're all free for the taking. The images I have scattered around this posting are some particular favorites form the Warehouse. Many of them are what Google calls Dynamic Components. This means that they are interactive. Appliance doors open, drawers close and sofas can be upholstered in any fabric you can imagine. What I say is a great new development is that there are as many user created models as there are manufacturer created models.
When I want to show someone how an Eames Lounge looks in their living room or if I want to play around with some table lamps from Crate and Barrel, they are there on the Warehouse and ready for me to insert directly into my model. I can actually show someone a true representation of a renovated home. I can use the actual KitchenAid dishwasher or the GE Monogram pro range they've already fallen in love with. I don't have to pretend a blank box is a French door refrigerator or that the brownish color on the floor is Ariete Black Travertine. It's all right there. It's like magic, I swear. For what it's worth, this designer finds himself specifying in real life the products he finds on the 3D Warehouse. Marketing departments take note!
So come join the in crowd, download a copy of SketchUp Free and learn how to use it. Once you master the basics, they will be no stopping you.