As a child, my favorite toys were LEGO (never “LEGOS”, apparently) and Lincoln Logs. So it should come as no surprise that I’m a big fan of Google SketchUp, the 3-D modeling software that allows anybody to “build” 3-dimensional objects with an intuitive interface.
Google purchased SketchUp when they acquired @Last Software in March of 2006. The Big G’s goal was to crowdsource the creation of 3-D models for Google Earth and the Google 3D Warehouse. It seems to be working, as there is a a vibrant, active community of modelers out there creating all sorts of cool things. This type of user generated content keeps people engaged and may help bring new people to the products since the offerings are growing much faster than the competition in terms of quantity and quality.
I hadn’t really played with SketchUp since Google first released the free version, but thought I would revisit it over the weekend to design a shed that I am going to build for my parents when I visit them over the Christmas holidays. They need a simple 2.5′ x 6′ x 6′ storage shed at their cabin in north Georgia. Nothing fancy, just a place to hang up some tools and keep the raccoons and bears out of the trash. After re-familiarizing myself with the drawing tools and features, I was able to crank out this simple shed design in about 30 minutes. With a little more practice it could be done in less than 5.
It’s not fancy compared to the other 870 or so shed designs in the 3D Warehouse but it serves the purpose and will be a fun project. Just being able to visualize it will help with creating a parts list, and it was easier to get project approval from my parents when they could see it too.
What do you think? What would you design in SketchUp? Can you think of any uses beyond just home renovation projects? How about creating a model of your offices or your clients’ products? After all, Google Earth and the 3D Warehouse are just different types of search engines. Why not create something that will be found in those channels as well?
Many people are visual learners or are more easily able to grasp abstract concepts if they can visualize them. Free tools like SketchUp make this easier than ever and could be used to differentiate your services or products from the competition.
[UPDATE] My brother and I built the shed over the holidays and it turned out great, although we strayed from the original plan. Here are some pics.
Who says computer nerds can’t be handy?