SketchUp is free to download
The versatile, extensive 3D modeling software SketchUp was originally developed by Google - before the responsibility for the graphics suite was passed on to Trimble. SketchUp Free is the free basic version of the graphics software, which is a bit slimmed down, but has basic functions for creating and editing 3D models. For example, if you need more functions for professional use, other editions are available.
Which is the right SketchUp edition for me?
- Individuals who want to create 3D graphics for non-commercial purposes, as well as school and university students, can use the basic functions of SketchUp with SketchUp Free Use it online for free in your browser, for which you have to register with your email address.
- Alternatively, there is the free one SketchUp Make with basic functions for installation on Mac and Windows PC, which is also intended for individuals for non-commercial use for 3D modeling.
- The paid one SketchUp Shop is intended for semi-professional use and can be used online. The edition offers manufacturer support and more functions.
- The paid editions offer functions for professional use SketchUp Pro and SketchUp Studio. Among other things, they contain VR / XR support as well as extended support from the manufacturer, whereby SketchUp Studio has more to offer than SketchUp Pro. Both editions can be used online as well as installed on Mac and Windows PC.
- Students, schoolchildren and teachers can get the cheaper editions SketchUp Studio for Students and SketchUp Studio for Educators use. There are free editions for educational institutions SketchUp for Schools and SketchUp Proif they meet the requirements.
- The free one SketchUp Viewer is for those who need to look at SketchUp files but don't want to design 3D models themselves.
Design, expose, add texture and color to 3D objects - and publish
According to the manufacturer - as well as various "third" testers - SketchUp Free is also and especially suitable for amateurs, laypeople and hobbyists. This is primarily due to the user interface, which is extremely intuitive and catchy for CAD software. A few examples of functions that are rather easy to master even for non-professionals are, for example, shadow studies, OpenGL 3D graphics, integration of your own images in 3D projects, or Ruby scripting capability. In addition, a large number of optical templates are available for the creation of (3D) graphic projects - for example pencil sketch optics. The extrusion function, which is even patented by the manufacturer, is also easy to use. With this, 2D surfaces can be marked and then transformed into 3D objects of any height, length or width by simply clicking and dragging. For example, if you import the floor plan of an architecture project, you can mark the corresponding elements via extrusion and then literally "pull up" the corresponding building. Once finished, the 3D objects can also be diligently provided with color or textures - these can also be individually created with the corresponding functions. The finished projects can then be saved, exported or shared on the network - for example in the so-called 3D warehouse from the manufacturer, a kind of 3D library. This originally belonged to Google and is - according to various sources - the largest collection of freely available 3D objects in the internet.
Add-ons, plugins and the range of functions of the Pro version
In order to provide SketchUp with even more functions and features, users have several options. An extension browser is included by default, with which you can search for add-ons and plugins for the program directly in the program. The selection here can be filtered and sorted - there are both free and paid extensions for various areas of application. If you need professional features and, for example, extended support, you can also treat yourself to the Pro version of SketchUp. This is chargeable, may be used commercially, and then brings a lot with it: Among other things, it also supports 3D and 2D file formats such as 3DS, DWG, DXF, PDF, PNG and EPX - and brings the in-house extensions Style Builder and Layout With. The latter adds extensive presentation and printing functions to the program - the former enables the definition of individual visual and graphic styles. This can be used to achieve the aforementioned pencil sketch look, for example.
Only look at SketchUp objects
With the free SketchUp Viewer For mobile devices, desktop computers as well as VR and XR devices, you can view the 3D objects from SketchUp on the go.
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