Google SketchUp is 3D modelling software that comes in both free and professional flavours. It can be used to create models for Google Earth.
Installation and Setup
SketchUp’s free edition asks for nothing during install although you can optionally submit your email address when you download the software. SketchUp takes up around 50MB of space fully installed. 3D modelling is always going to be quite an intensive task so you’ll need a decent system to fully appreciate the program. Some of the more complicated models were taking up around 80% of the CPU in our Dual Core test system.
Ease of Use
SketchUp is one of those programs that offer incredibly powerful professional tools for businesses while at the same time managing to appeal to casual users.
If you’ve ever set up your Google Earth to show custom 3D Images, you’ve probably already seen some of the work made with the program, even in your local area. That’s the beauty of SketchUp, it takes something that is quite scary and complicated and makes it so simple that even we could use without many problems. Alright, our screenshots are of models from the vast 3D warehouse of SketchUp files, but we still found the program incredibly easy to use.
There are a huge number of excellent video tutorials on the net — both Google’s own and fan made — that take you through the vast array of powerful tools. For the budding architect who just wants to represent his house through a 3D model, it’s the perfect tool and within only a few hours you can have something up that looks like a real building – quite impressive compared to SketchUp’s far more technical and fiddly competitors.
Whether you’re messing around or serious about 3D architecture, SketchUp is worth a try, just make sure you have the computing power to be able to run it.
Differences between free and professional
SketchUp Pro is quite a hefty $495, although it’s comparatively cheap when you take a look the prices and feature sets of other 3D modelling software. The full version is geared towards business users will full support and printing capability, intelligent objects and much, much more. Most of the features aren’t required for light, personal use.