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Google SketchUp: The Basics

written by: pearlofafrika•edited by: Aaron R.•updated: 7/6/2011

Find out what you need to know about Google's 3D modeling program, SketchUp, before you download it.

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    Google SketchUp is a 3D drawing program that has revolutionized the modeling process for the average user. Unlike the inaccessible CAD programs, SketchUp does not have a huge learning curve, it's fairly simple to download, and start designing with. This program appeals to both the home owner looking to conceptualize a new floor-plan and the architect who is planning a master community.

    Google offers two versions of SketchUp: a free fully-functional version and a Pro version, which costs $599. The free version is more than adequate for the occasional user, but professionals will want to invest in the Pro version, because it offers extras such as technical support and expanded file formats. SketchUp works on both PCs and MACs.

    Downloading the program is as easy as going to its homepage and clicking a couple of buttons.

    The free version, which we are evaluating here, is a relatively small 52 MB. It downloads quickly, and installs without too many probing questions. Once installed, SketchUp is a stable program that does not hog your system resources. You can run many programs in the background, without experiencing a lag.

    Before designing in SketchUp, take a few minutes to watch the video tutorials on SketchUp's site, found here . The videos are self-paced, and cut into individual lessons under 10 minutes. If you allow an hour to watch the basic videos, you'll have a pretty solid understanding of what you can do in SketchUp, and you'll definitely be inspired to start drawing.

    This program is suited for the type of novice user who played with Legos and had architectural aspirations. It is very professional, but down-to-earth. With little effort, the outcome is polished and exact. SketchUp provides the user with all the tools necessary to accomplish his or her goal, and if you are having trouble, don't fear. There is a huge community of fellow SketchUp users who love to share information and techniques.

    SketchUp gives you several views - you can see your project in 360 degree views, top and bottom, inside and outside of the drawing.

    It also features a library of extras like textures, furniture and architectural embellishments SketchUp is always anticipating your next move, and is considered highly intuitive, and thereby user-friendly..

    SketchUp is worth the download, and a fine program for anyone interested in technical 3D drawing. Even if you're not anticipating a home renovation, it's fun to draw your dream house on this program anyway.