A free and powerful 3D modeling software
SketchUp Make is a 3D modeling application that is an intuitive, easy-to-use interface for creating three-dimensional mockups of buildings and other objects. SketchUp allows you to draw virtual environments with detail or create practical projects such as renovating kitchen designs to be more user-friendly.
SketchUp Make is the free version of Sketchup Pro but is not as robust with features. It doesn't have advanced features for 3D modeling and rendering, which makes construction easier or more accurate. The most recent update was in 2017 as the team stopped developing the free version. If you're looking for an updated free 3D modeling app, also check out Autodesk 123D, Autodesk 3DS MAX, and AutoCad, which are used by professionals.
SketchUp Make’s features
SketchUp Make's interface is uncluttered and straightforward, allowing you to focus on your design. Easily drag-and-drop shapes from the toolbar into a workspace. Then, edit the shapes with precision tools, including pencils, line weights, colors, and more.
However, SketchUp Make is a different tool from most design software. For starters, the navigation and drawing tools are on opposite sides of the toolbar instead of sharing space like they do with alternative packages.
SketchUp also has a vast array of 3D models from which you can download and customize everything from fences to refrigerators. The online library includes full models of various building types that you can import into SketchUp and customize to make it your own design. You will have the ability to create ambitious projects such as mansions or skyscrapers. Additionally, most templates are not just external shells but have interior details too.
The 3DWarehouse is a great resource for finding quality components and fittings, but it can become time-consuming. For example, there are generic items such as home fixtures or fittings that you can easily find. But these generic items will need to be tweaked if the dimensions don’t match what you need.
The right-hand side toolbar contains the app's various panels, including a simple help panel, which is useful when you don't know how to use an object. You hace access to the 3DWarehouse browser that allows for finding models within your library. There are also swatches for color themes and textures, view options to zoom in or out on model detail, rendering settings like materials-based lighting colors, and darken skybox option (like changing from day to night).
Uniquely, there are extra helpful tools included in layers, allowing you to view all objects separately. This makes it so that it's easy to access and control visibility without affecting other elements.
Further resources are found in the ‘instructor’ feature. It is a helpful resource that comes pre-loaded with lots of information. It's context-sensitive, so if you've selected the Orbit tool, it will show you an animation and text explaining how to modify its functions. You can access the knowledge within this training module in real-time without having to stop what you're doing or search for help elsewhere.
SketchUp Make’s view control
SketchUp's view controls are excellent. In addition to moving the camera on and around your model, you can also choose from a range of pre-defined views such as front, side, or rearview, overhead, and angled views among others.
You can further animate these views to get an aerial standpoint with different angles during the transition between 2-3 perspectives. With smooth transitions, Sketup Make delivers a drone camera effect when flying over and around structures.
Exporting your files
SketchUp Make's free version includes many useful features, but you may need to upgrade to the pro version for the advanced features. For example, while it offers import options for SketchUp files and standard image formats like PNG or JPG, be aware that DWG and DXF export is locked behind an annual subscription fee. Additional features that are not in the free version are other key 3D file types used in many industries, which require more specific design programs such as AutoCAD.
Free 3D design and modeling for casual designers
SketchUp Make is a simple CAD program that is easy for anyone to create impressive 3D models of interior, furniture design, and landscapes. Professionals may find it lacking, but SketchUp Make is an excellent CAD app for beginners. Some of SketchUp Make's built-in features include lighting effects, textures, layer manager, and animations that are simple for anyone who has never used any CAD program before.
Although the extensive library of models and symbols provides CAD designers an opportunity to thrive, SketchUp Make misses a few key tools, like the wall tool or house wizard, which are found on other popular design programs like AutoCAD.