SketchUp

Build en­tire worlds from the ground up, with this su­per speedy yet sim­ple 3D art pro­gram

ImagineFX - - Feature -

It’s per­fect for kit-bash­ing and making dy­namic, me­chan­i­cal mod­els

SketchUp def­i­nitely be­longs in this roundup, es­pe­cially when top con­cept artists such as Donglu Yu and Jort van Wel­ber­gen are us­ing it for pro­fes­sional (and per­sonal) work. As a piece of com­puter-aided de­sign (CAD) soft­ware, you’d be for­given for think­ing that its sole pur­pose is cre­at­ing bog-stan­dard ar­chi­tec­tural de­signs. Well, in the hands of an artist the pos­si­bil­i­ties are prac­ti­cally end­less!

“I love SketchUp mainly for its speed,” says Jort. “Be­cause ac­tions are rel­a­tively sim­ple, the num­ber of key presses for tools and ac­tions are re­duced, which means you can work at a faster pace. You won’t have to waste time look­ing through menus and lists.

“An­other cool, unique el­e­ment of SketchUp is that you can copy parts of ge­om­e­try, like cut-in de­tail, su­per quickly – and make pat­terns quite eas­ily, too.”

Sim­plic­ity is both SketchUp’s great­est strength and weak­ness. The in­ter­face may be pretty stan­dard, but it’s mod­i­fi­able. How­ever, if you want to cre­ate com­plex, game-ready ele­ments like land­scapes, ma­te­ri­als or an­i­ma­tions, SketchUp isn’t for you. It isn’t great for smooth and curved sur­faces such as cars, ei­ther.

But from a cre­ative stand­point, SketchUp helps you to gen­er­ate ideas quickly. “It’s per­fect for kit-bash­ing and making dy­namic me­chan­i­cal mod­els such as ro­bots quickly, thanks to the group­ing sys­tem,” says Jort. “And, of course, it’s great for all things ar­chi­tec­tural. Even if I end up us­ing an­other pro­gram to fi­nalise a model, like MODO or Fu­sion360, I tend to use SketchUp for my ini­tial sketches.”

And it’s free – or at least the stan­dard ver­sion is. This will en­able you to trans­fer files be­tween SketchUp, Maya, 3ds Max and Rhino. How­ever, if you want to ex­port OBJ files to pick up in Pho­to­shop, then you’ll need the Pro ver­sion, priced around £490. How­ever, we’d ad­vise get­ting hold of the free ver­sion first, to ex­per­i­ment with.

If you’re se­ri­ous about get­ting cre­ative quickly in the field of con­cept art, then SketchUp could be a pow­er­ful tool in your arse­nal.

edit the in­ter­face

The user in­ter­face is pretty stan­dard, but it’s eas­ily mod­i­fi­able by drag­ging parts of the menu items around.

cus­tom plug­ins

There are hundreds of plug­ins for SketchUp, which are mostly free. No­table ones are the Round edge tool, the Loft tool and the Mod­ded push/ pull tools.

go­ing pro

The stan­dard pack­age is free, al­though you won’t be able to ex­port ex­cept as a DAE file. If you want OBJ and FBX ex­ports then you need the Pro ver­sion, which comes in at a hefty £490.

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