What is SketchUp?

SketchUp is a simple three-dimensional modeling program. It lacks the precision and wide toolset of more complex programs like AutoCAD or Rhino, but its ease of use and low cost (a freeware version is available) make it an attractive option for many students, interns, and architects.

LAYERS. Every object in a SketchUp model belongs to a unique layer. Layers and object layer assignments are controlled in the Layers palette (Window > Layers). When SketchUp opens AutoCAD DWG files, layers can be maintained. Choose Window > Layers to see the Layers palette.

FILE FORMATS. SketchUp’s native file format is .skp. Be aware that multiple versions of SketchUp are in popular use, and if you are exchanging information with others, it may be necessary to “downsave” a copy of your model in an older file format (for which, choose File > Save As, and select the appropriate type under “Save as type”).

INTEROPERABILITY. As a standalone tool SketchUp’s rendering and documentation capabilities are limited. For this reason, it is important to have a good working knowledge of SketchUp’s interoperability with other software applications. Used in combination with Maxwell, SketchUp can support the production of photorealistic renderings. Used together with AutoCAD or Rhino and Illustrator, SketchUp can support the production of professional-quality construction documents.

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