Price: 341 . 66
Company: Google SketchUp
Pros: Dynamic Components use and authoring; Interact tool; texture enhancements; Layout 2; Style Builder; custom metadata and report generator; free for standard version.
Cons: Price has jumped for Pro version; limited animation; screen becomes cluttered easily.
Such animation can be activated using the new Interact tool, which takes advantage of behaviours applied in the Dynamic Component dialog. It’s not full timeline animation, but it’s useful. Textures have been enhanced too, and can now be tied to Dynamic Components, so that they don’t distort when geometries are scaled.
A Combine Textures feature can create a single texture from several co-planar faces, removing edges between faces and so reducing overall polygon counts. Textures can be set to be anti-aliased and swapped out for smaller versions at different viewing sizes. This produces a smoother look, and also uses less memory.
Sketchup Pro 7 introduces custom metadata, so that you can add part numbers and the cost of the real-world materials your objects represent. There’s an export facility for such data, to create spreadsheet reports for quantities and materials tracking. This is useful for product and building design, rather than Digital Arts readers.
Also shipping with Pro, the Layout 2 presentation application offers new drawing, manipulation and editing tools, and the ability to set different edit and output quality, for working on high-detail models without sacrificing performance. You can now import from 3D Warehouse’s repository of .SKP models directly into SketchUp, which was especially helpful after the application crashed when importing a dynamic door from the desktop into an older model.
The Pro version recently jumped in price, but while it may not be quite the bargain it once was – and while some of its functions are clearly more for CAD than digital content-creation – there’s still much here for 2D and 3D artists.