We’ve been dreaming and sketching for much of the weekend, trying to come up with the perfect design for a new wrap-around porch to replace (eventually) the sagging old mudroom that is the back entry to our house.

What propelled this fit of day-dreaming is a download of a fun tool from Google: a free 3-D drafting program called SketchUp:

SketchUp (free) is an easy-to-learn 3D modeling program whose few simple tools enable you to create 3D models of houses, sheds, decks, home additions, woodworking projects – even space ships. You can add details, textures and glass to your models, design with dimensional accuracy, and place your finished models in Google Earth, share them with others by posting them to the 3D Warehouse, or print hard copies. Google SketchUp (free) is a great way to discover if 3D modeling is right for you. Google SketchUp is free for personal use. No registration is required.

Google’s 3D Warehouse even has a whole collection of pre-drawn images you can download to use as components in your own drawings — like furniture, landscape elements (see that planter in the picture), textures and construction building elements, even whole buildings!

The SketchUp software is terrific for people like me, just not particularly gifted in the spatial-relations department! Being able to “walk around” an object to look at it from all angles made it so much easier for me to see what the real thing might look like.

My husband is a whiz with AutoCAD, which he uses to draft up plans for almost everything that gets built around here, but I have trouble visualizing what something is going to look like. He imported a floor plan from AutoCAD and then built it up into three dimensions.

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“Can we change the angle of the steps?” I ask, “What if the roof line extended out another eight inches?” And, hey presto! a drag of the mouse, and the changes are there for me to see. “No, I don’t like it… put it back the way it was!”

But SketchUp made it astonishingly easy for me to draw my own little sketches from “scratch” without any kind of drafting background.

Within the first hour or so, I felt pretty confident about how to draw objects, size them, fill in colours and textures, and so on. Of course, there’s still more the software can do that I didn’t take the time to figure out… but there are several different ways to get help when using the program. I particularly favour the right-click menus, to see the main options for what can be done with a selected drawing object.

So now I’m thinking that the SketchUp software could be really useful for drawing up a 3-dimensional landscape plan when it’s time to renovate the garden, too…

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. domestika

    Hi Brandon! Yes, if you’re moving furniture around and want to draw up a plan, the stuff on tap at the 3D Warehouse (free free free!) would certainly help you out. It’s searchable (well, of course, it’s Google!) so you can fairly easily find a reasonable facsimile of that couch you’re trying to squeeze into place! You know, if all else fails, you can print out the furniture drawing to scale and shuffle them around on a piece of graph paper marked off with your room measurements, you know, sort of the way we used to plan out room layouts back in the dark ages before computers…! Let me know how you make out.

  2. Brandon G.

    It’s really strange that you’ve discussed this; I’ve been itching for any sort of modeling/sketching program. We’re preparing to rearrange our rooms – giving Son his own room, moving the office into what is currently the living room (making it a combination den/dining room), and moving the living room into the family room, which is where Son sleeps now.

    It sounds like the Google program you spoke of would greatly help; I spent most of yesterday afternoon measuring walls and furniture and trying to sketch out how everything was going to fit. Somehow, on the sketch, I managed to fit our 8-foot couch into a 6-foot space, so I think there’s a problem with my sketching.

    (Art was never my strong suit, anyway.)

    Do you think that 3D Warehouse would help me out also?

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