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3D Modeling with Sketchup

Have you ever wondered how a concept idea would look? Computers have made it easier for users to develop ideas, but until now it required an expensive program and considerable study to generate 3D images.

Whether an architect, engineer, interior designer, tile wholesaler, or homeowner with a project, Sketchup can help you visualize your ideas in 3D. Sketchup is free Google software available at http://sketchup.google.com/. Along with the software, there is an extensive library of how-to videos to help you get started with your project. In the 3D warehouse there are a wide variety of objects available for download to use in your design.


In the bathroom design pictured, the fixtures were taken from the 3D warehouse. The purpose of the design was to show the tile, so creating a custom tub, lavatory and toilet was unnecessary. The 3D warehouse meant the maximum amount of time could be spent on developing the tiles and finishes.

All objects start with a simple geometric shape which is pushed/pulled and shaped to achieve the required appearance. As with any project, file size is an issue. The more complex the shape the greater the file size can quickly become, but the use of components has a two fold benefit, one of which is helping to keep the file size down by reusing a component. The smaller file size will make it quicker and easier for your computer to perform changes. The other advantage is that when you edit one component the change is made to all components, which for a wall of tiles can be a great time saver. There is also the option to make a unique version of a component, or 'explode' it and create a new component from the parts of the original, such as the half tiles.


In the kitchen design, the cube cabinets were a component, with the knob component added to the cabinet component. When the cabinets were rotated to achieve the desired knob pattern it was discovered that the knobs were not in a position where they aligned when the cabinet was rotated. By editing the position of the knob in one cabinet component all the knobs repositioned for instantaneous review.

The use of layers allows for walls to be turned off for a view which would not be possible in the real world. Importing finishes as textures, images or matched photo allows for realistic finishes like those used in the tile project. Shadows, set by time and date can be added for more realism to your creation. "Walking" through the model allows you to set eye height, then spin around and tilt to get a realistic view of what it would look like if you were standing in the middle of your design.

Sketchup offers lots of features in the free version and for those professionals who want more there is a Pro version available for a fee.

Date: 06.18.2010

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