Saturday, 29 January 2011

Sketchup and a cheap copy of Microsoft Office

As I'm not particularly good at drawing and often struggle to put my design ideas down on paper, I've been doing a bit of experimenting with Google's 3D modelling tool, Sketchup:  http://sketchup.google.com/intl/en/index.html

I'm hoping I can  use Sketchup to help visualise my ceramic ideas during the early design phases, before clay models are made.  I have to say that I'm really impressed with it so far:  it's free and it's really easy to use and there are hundreds of pre-created shapes and surfaces that can be adapted to suit almost any design project.  It has built-in 'living' surfaces such as grass, tree bark, sky and water, as well as brick, metal, plastic, etc. It even does shading according the global time of the model - i.e. month and hour of day!  Brilliant.

There are extensive online resources to help anyone new to Sketchup and training videos to suit all levels:  http://sketchup.google.com/intl/en/training/  There's also a 3D warehouse of ready-made models and designs, many of which are freely available to use.

This is my first attempt at modelling the piece I've made for my current project:


I haven't quite got all the shading and layout right but you can immediately see the potential and, even at this first attempt, I don't think it's half bad.  It took me about 2 minutes.  I didn't bother watching any of the tutorial videos either, so if I take some time to watch those I guess I'll be able to make a better attempt next time. 


Whilst on the subject of useful software, if you're a student and you want to obtain a copy of Microsoft Office then have a look at Microsoft's Ultimate Steal offer which gives students a big discount on the full price:  http://store.digitalriver.com/store?Action=DisplayStudentHeroRegistrationPage&Locale=en_GB&SiteID=msshgb - you will need to use your official University or College email address to check your eligibility for the offer.

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