• Price When Reviewed: 315 . 60

  • Pros: Offers powerful and accurate polygon modelling in a single 3D view. Perfect for fast, no-frills realization of objects in 3D.

  • Cons: Doesn’t handle curvy objects well, though the Sandbox tools help here.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10 Best Buy We rate this 9 out of 10

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SketchUp is a focused and excellently crafted 3D program designed primarily with the architect in mind. The original incarnation of the program was a sketching tool that allowed designers to realize objects in 3D quickly and with the minimum of fuss. It’s not a CAD program as such, as it’s based on polygon modelling and OpenGL rendering.

As the program has matured and expanded its feature set, it has also widened its appeal to more general-purpose 3D work, though it’s still best suited to building hard mechanical objects such as buildings and machinery. It doesn’t have subdivision surfaces, NURBS, or other parametric fussiness. The power of its simple polygonal toolset comes mainly from the inspired inferencing system, snapping and referencing features that allow you to construct freely in a single 3D view with a great degree of accuracy and confidence.

 border=0 /> </div>Version 5 moves the polygon tools into the organic realm for the first time with the introduction of the Sandbox tools – a plug-in system designed for creating and sculpting landscapes. The Sandbox offers a number of extra tools than can create surfaces from a series of contour lines (as traced from a map, for example) or push and pull a flat mesh into a rolling hillside.
The interface has been adjusted slightly so that it is the same on both Mac and Windows platforms. Palettes now compact down to their tool bars and snap together as a block, popping out to full size as needed. A new component browser panel allows easy navigation of objects in the scene. A neat feature is Replace Selected, which replaces the selected components in the scene with those from the Component Browser – making it easy to change the windows in a building en masse.
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One of the great things about Sketchup is that you can download a vast number of totally free ready-made models to place in your scene. Categories include Architecture, Construction, Film and Stage, and Mechanical Design.
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