My Book reviews /

Google SketchUp 7 For Dummies

Title Google SketchUp 7 For Dummies
Authors Aidan Chopra
Publisher For Dummies
Date 2009-03-09
Pages 472
ISBN 0470277394

Even though Sketchup is quite an intuitive tool to use the book is a means to summarize the knowledge. For Dummies is a great series and this book is no exception.

Part 1 of the book describes what Sketchup is for. It is written for people who have not heard of Sketchup and therefore I decided to skip it.

Part 2 is called Modelling in Sketchup and it starts with explaining how to build a house. I like Dummies series because it is very practically oriented. I did not have to read how to draw a box or a circle, the stuff that most people will manage to learn on their own.

Modeling buildings is what I am interested in. The author of this book also thinks that this is an interesting topic. However, Sketchup can do a whole lot of other things тАУ furniture, cars, trees, you name it. However, a building is a perfect example to demonstrate how to use various Sketchup tools. Indeed, a building has a roof, walls, and staircase. Each component has its tricks.

I think Sketchup is a great program because it has lots of tools. A saying goes Sharpen your tools. I think that Skethcup is on the front edge of innovation in graphic tools. For example, a Push/Pull tool can cut windows and doors in a wall, build a triangular roof, and finalize a staircase. Such a multi-purpose tool but still it is quite intuitive when you start to use it. Another tool called Follow Me combines the functionality of 2-3 tools in traditional CAD frameworks. It allows to extend an arbitrary shape along an arbitrary curve, thus making it possible to build a vase, a sphere, or a staircase.

Here are examples of what I could create immediately after reading the book. These complex shapes take only a couple of clicks to build with Sketchup tools.

Chapter 8 describes how to use photographs to facilitate creating of building models. An indispensable stuff if you want to model your very own house. Within hours from taking the book in your hands you will have a draft 3D model of your beloved mansion!

In Part 3 the author describes additional unexpected capabilities of Sketchup. It turns out that it supports multiple styles. Even though Sketchup offers non-photorealistic rendering (NPR) only, still there are lots of options from wireframe, to shaded faces, to NPR. Btw., it is possible to obtain a photograph-quality imaging from Sketchup using plugins (written in Ruby) and 3rd party tools.

Using Google Earth inside Sketchup makes it possible to geo-locate your building and watch it under various lighting conditions тАУ at sunrise, at noon, or at glorious sunset. The building will cast appropriate shadows so you can decide where you want to plant your garden.

Chapter 10 describes how to browse buildings as in first-person game. You can even climb the stairs and walk round the corners smoothly.

In the remaining two parts the book describes how to share your model with the community as well as what the community has to offer. There are lots of cool tutorials out there. One of the great resources are the YouTube videos that the author of the book Aidan Chopra shot as compliment to the book. They are available here. Each video is quite short. Obviously, when I discovered the book I watched the videos first and then began reading the book. Overall, it a very enjoyable learning experience!