Who is Steve Oles?

Whenever I teach someone SketchUp, the first thing I like to do is introduce our scale figure. Functionally, these 2D face-me components help orient you to a model's scale and perspective. More personally, the scale figures we’ve chosen for our default templates have always been members of the SketchUp team. For us, it’s a fun way to recognize someone who’s helped make SketchUp what it is.

In SketchUp 2015, our default scale figure isn’t one of our great colleagues, but one of our great friends: Steve Oles.

SketchUp 2015’s default scale figure “Steve” rendered in the PSO Vignette style that he helped create.

If you’ve come to a 3D Basecamp, you may have met Steve or even sat in one of his unconference sessions about hybrid drawing for architectural illustration. The name might also be familiar if you’ve ever used one of the PSO styles in SketchUp (Steve is short for Paul Stevenson).

And if the PSO styles are familiar, we’re guessing you may have come across Steve’s book at some point in your architectural studies. Steve has been a source of inspiration for our team for some time now, and as we’ve gotten to know him, we’ve really enjoyed learning about his career too. So, in our 2015 update for SketchUp, we decided it was about time to introduce you all to our friend, Steve Oles…

Posted by Mark Harrison, on behalf of the SketchUp team

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SketchUp, Trimble Connected

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Trimble Connect is a collaboration platform for building construction projects. It plugs into SketchUp via a free extension that lets you pull down and publish models, as well as work with reference models in your own project.

This week, at Dimensions, we launched Trimble Connect -- a new website for architects and those who work with them to collaborate on building construction projects of all levels of complexity.

You can sign up for a Connect account today (single user accounts are free), but don’t stop there. We're also releasing a Trimble Connect extension for SketchUp today which lets you work with Connect right inside the SketchUp modeling environment. You can install it for free from our Extension Warehouse.

For years, SketchUp users have asked us to improve data interoperability and to offer better ways to collaborate with others. Using the new Trimble Connect extension, coupled with a subscription to Trimble Connect online, you can publish your work for others to use, as well as reference their work back into your own SketchUp models. Reference data from Connect can be updated as changes are made without fuss. And you can coordinate models from multiple contributors using all kinds of different software together on one common space — and offer comments and requests for additional information all from one convenient interface.

SketchUp is only one of a collection of Connected applications announced today. You can also share models with Tekla Structures, Vico Office, Trimble Business Center and many other applications as well. In addition, we are now Connected with other products outside the Trimble family, including Bentley ProjectWise CONNECTED edition. And because Connect is built on GTeam (a product we recently acquired from Gehry Technologies), it already works with Rhino, AutoCAD, and IFC files. We've always said that your data belongs to you -- with Trimble Connect, it's easier than ever to work with that data in the tool or your choice.

Trimble Connect is still a young product, and we have grand plans for its future. But I think you’ll already find much in it that is useful to you and the folks with whom you collaborate every day. Come on in and take a look around -- and let us know what you think.

Special note for Makers: we built Connect with the construction industry in mind, but there's plenty of useful stuff in there for folks that work on projects of all different kinds. Single user accounts will always be free... and we support a bunch of file formats that you're going to find useful in your work, too.

Posted by John Bacus, SketchUp Product Management Director

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Sharpening SketchUp for 2015

We have some news to share today -- SketchUp 2015 is available for download now -- but first we’d like to share something that’s a few weeks old.

Here at SketchUp HQ in Boulder, we have a team dedicated to answering the phone and email questions that customers send us every day. Recently, we received these two emails on the same day:

Thank you for replying to my mum. I'm Marius and I'm 8 years old. I really like SketchUp and we have it in school. In art school, I made a factory with my best friend. 

-- Love, Marius XXX

And then, just a few hours later:

I'm a detective for the Ottawa Police Service. I specialize in Bloodstain Pattern Analysis and was introduced to your software while collaborating with university students. Using online tutorials I was able to quickly create 3D plan drawings for our crime scenes. The quality of the visual evidence produced was above and beyond what our court system was used to.

-- Det. Ugo Garneau, Ottawa Police Service

We get emails like these all the time, and we always think it’s incredible that so many different kinds of people can learn and be productive with SketchUp almost right away. On the other side of the spectrum, we regularly hear from seasoned modelers who have mastered SketchUp to make building things more efficient.

We’re incredibly proud that SketchUp helps all of these people be successful -- and have some fun while they’re at it. So when we plan updates, our team feels a big responsibility to preserve the reliability and flexibility that makes SketchUp... well, SketchUp.

In this release, we turned our focus to upgrading SketchUp’s performance infrastructure. In particular, we’ve updated SketchUp, LayOut, and our Ruby API to run as 64-bit applications. The least nerdy way to explain this change is that 64-bit architecture allows SketchUp to take advantage of more of your computer’s active memory. We’ve moved to 64-bit both to improve performance, but also to set up SketchUp to work better with the operating systems and extensions that people will be using over the next few years. So while this is a big modification to SketchUp’s technical backbone, we kind of hope you won’t notice it at all.

Similarly, SketchUp 2015 includes new modeling and documentation tools that we designed to feel like you’ve been using them for years. Probably our favorite of these is the Rotated Rectangle tool, a way draw to axis-independent rectangles that’s both incredibly useful and surprisingly intuitive. Give it a try: we think it will remind you of the first time you used SketchUp.

SketchUp 2015's official Rotated Rectangle Tool draws rectangles that don’t have to be perpendicular or parallel to an axes. It’s a simple idea that saves you about a dozen clicks to draw shapes like the cube on the right.

There’s a lot more to explore in SketchUp 2015: fast styles... LayOut smart labels... a 3 Point Arc tool... simpler Pro licensing… full IFC compatibility to get more and more folks participating in information modeling… we’ve even linked SketchUp to Trimble Connect, a new collaboration platform for sharing, reviewing, and commenting on any kind of project file.

You can download our latest version here, and if you have SketchUp Pro License, go ahead and use our license wizard to upgrade. If you work in SketchUp every day, we think you’ll really love this release -- after all, all we’ve done is make SketchUp work more like… well, SketchUp.

Posted by Mark Harrison, on behalf of the SketchUp team

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Licensing in SketchUp Pro 2015

We’re very proud of the things we’ve added and changed in SketchUp 2015. One of the changes that I’m particularly happy about is a completely revised licensing system. Since when did licensing become exciting? Well, it isn’t. But the licensing system used for SketchUp Pro 2014 and older was very dusty, to say the least. It needed a facelift so that we could take advantage of modern technology and solve a number of long-standing issues. Now, let’s take a peek at what the new licensing can do...

  • Cross-platform support. Microsoft Windows? Mac OS X? It doesn’t matter! Use the same license information on both platforms.

  • 30-day Trial. The 8-hour trial that SketchUp used in the past was quite sophisticated but not very clear. We applied SketchUp-simplicity to this one: 30 days. Simple.

  • Centralized Network License manager. For those of you who happen to manage a network license, the SketchUp Pro licensing server is hosted in the cloud. No more creating a shared folder on a server, setting specific permissions, generating a network license, and so on. We’ve taken care of that for you.

  • “Checkout” support (network licenses). Need to work on a plane or show a model to client in a remote location? Now you can check out a network license seat for offline use. Just be sure to do it before you go offline, though. 

  • WAN support (network licenses). Network licenses of old were more like LAN Licenses, because they only worked across a LAN. Now, with the network license manager in the cloud, your users only need access to the Internet.

  • Changing seat count without generating a new license (network licenses). So you found out that a 20-seat network license isn’t enough and you need to add another five seats. Before, we would generate a new serial number and you would have to go out and update the license within SketchUp Pro. Now, we make the change for you on the server and you don’t have to change a thing!

There’s one very important difference to note with regard to this new licensing technology: you’ll need to have an active Internet connection to add a license and remove a license from your computer. Drop a line to your IT folks that SketchUp needs access to the Internet via ports 5053 and 50530 just in case your network whitelists those kinds of things.

You can add your single-user SketchUp Pro license to any two computers that you use. But you need to be the one using SketchUp Pro -- hence, single-user license. And only one computer can run SketchUp Pro at a time. If you need to install SketchUp on your third computer, you’ll need to remove a license on one of the other computers first. To remove a license, open SketchUp then select Help > Welcome to SketchUp... > License > Remove License...

Lastly, if you see an error message while using the new license, check out this Knowledge Center article for some help resolving the problem. Or get in touch with us.

That’s it! The goal of licensing is to give you access to your favorite SketchUp Pro features then get the heck out of the way. If that’s your experience, then we’ve done our job and earned a slice of Trimble SketchUp cake:

Posted by Tommy Acierno, on behalf of the SketchUp team

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Using Trimble Vision images to create SketchUp models

Last year, Trimble (SketchUp’s parent company) introduced a kind of super-camera called the V10 Imaging Rover. The V10 captures and compiles images of large objects like buildings or bridges, then tags those site photographs with precise locations and orientations. Trimble Vision Total Stations also collect this kind of imagery, so here in Colorado we started wondering how geospatial professionals might use this location-aware data to create 3D models in SketchUp.

Today, we are happy to announce that the latest versions of SketchUp Pro and Trimble Business Center now work together to export images and camera poses for direct use with SketchUp’s Match Photo tool.

A bird's eye view of Trimble Vision images imported into SketchUp along with the resulting 3D model.

We developed this integration along with improvements to Match Photo to make this kind of photo modeling simpler than ever before. There is no need to designate vanishing lines and prominent features on the structure to determine each camera pose. Instead, camera orientations are pre-loaded with the file import from Trimble Business Center (TBC). With as few as three points exported from TBC you can set up your axes and begin to create your model.

To set up this workflow, we had to extend the TBC *.skp exporter to allow images and points to be included. This lets you leverage TBC’s ability to create photo points with precise locations. You can generate and export any key points that will aid the modeling process within SketchUp, including points for setting up your SketchUp axes and inference points for important architectural details.

A Trimble Business Center station view with photo points visible

The Trimble V10 includes a panoramic camera array. This means there are twelve cameras that collect images for a full 360-degree view. The multiple viewpoints are useful while you are processing the images in TBC, since you can generate tie points all the way around each of the photo stations to be used in the bundle adjustment.
However, for modeling in SketchUp, you only need to export images that include the area of interest (e.g. building, bridge …). In TBC, you can easily create a polygon boundary around the area of interest. If you use a boundary, the *.skp exporter will include only the images with view angles that intersect it. This greatly reduces image clutter in SketchUp.

TBC boundary around the area of interest, highlighting in purple the images that will be exported

To further help filter out unneeded images from the exported *.skp, TBC allows you to include a subset of your photo stations. This lets you select only those stations which have images you need for modeling in SketchUp.
The *.skp that TBC creates during export contains a separate scene tab for each image. This reduces confusion and provides easy navigation during modeling.

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After importing your imagery from Trimble Business Center, every image is automatically positioned in its own scene.

Since the ability to move easily between images is important to efficient model creation, the “Igloo view” (keyboard shortcut “i”) has been improved to walk you through the images rapidly. You can see the adjacent images that provide context around the structure.

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Igloo view showing adjacent images for context

After exporting appropriate 3D points to SketchUp, their positions can be matched with pixels in the images, to orient the coordinate axes. If the structure is rectangular, this should only need to be done with one image using a few points, and then all of the images will be automatically oriented in such a way that a consistent model can be created from multiple images.

Modeling the building using SketchUp’s Match Photo tool

The images from TBC have the camera distortions removed, so they are also great for texturing your model in SketchUp. Make sure to collect the images from locations that allow for a clear view of the structure (without obstructions like cars or trees), then use the Project Photo tool to apply them as textures.

Using the Trimble Business Center images to texture a SketchUp model model

When you are done, you will have a model that can be used in all sorts of SketchUp workflows, including daylight, shadow, and view plane analyses, report generation, and Google Earth previews.

Posted by Richard Hassler, Hardware Product Manager

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Building a PVC Geodesic Dome with SketchUp

Here on the SketchUp team, we’re DIYers at heart -- we like solving design problems and building things. For a while now, we’ve had a big presence at Maker Faire. We go because we truly enjoy nerding out with fellow makers and dreaming up our own design-build projects. At World Maker Faire in New York last month, we decided to cook up a pair of large geodesic domes, because, well, why not?

Who wouldn’t want to build a geodesic lair out of PVC pipe?

Actually, the point of our exhibit -- besides being a practice run for a future Burning Man trip -- was to prove that SketchUp makes planning and building team DIY projects easier and more fun. We enlisted the help of our good pal Eric Schimelpfenig of sketchthis.net and set out to turn a pile of PVC pipe into two huge geodesic domes and some comfortable furniture. Here’s how we pulled it off:

After exploring geodesic designs on 3D Warehouse -- and a lot of discovery on Domerama -- we jumped into SketchUp for conceptual design. Satellite imagery for our site plan demonstrated that two twenty-foot diameter domes would fit perfectly, and a simple massing model proved that 3V ⅝ domes -- with their extra head room -- would provide plenty of height and floor space for people and furniture.

Once we knew the defining characteristics of our dome, we churned out the strut lengths using Domerama’s geodesic calculator and then advanced the design using Dynamic Components to create a fabricatable model. From there, we employed generate report and some spreadsheet magic to crank out a cut-list for our PVC stockpile from Home Depot.

Using the proportional math from Domerama’s 3V ⅝ dome calculator, we built a dynamic component that uses dome diameter and hub protrusion as inputs for automating a 3V dome. You can download this dynamic geodesic model on 3D Warehouse.

As our fabrication captain, Eric got to turn our SketchUp model into a collection of ready-to-assemble parts. Using some simple jigs to speed up the cutting and drilling, he churned through 1,600 feet of pipe -- about a quarter-mile of PVC -- from his workshop in Massachusetts. Rounding out the list, he ordered up the awesome purpose-built connector hubs from Sonostar and grabbed a giant bag of nuts and bolts to keep things from sliding apart. With just two days to go before assembly, he loaded 152 connectors, 322 pipes, two ladders, and a dozen hammers into a van we’re pretty sure he had permission to borrow.

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Two geodesic domes and enough left-over pipe to spit out a few of these bad boys...

On-site at the New York Hall of Science, the pipe-laden van was met by a jet-lagged assembly crew of SketchUppers who’d only ever seen the geodomes in our working model. Over the course of a few hours, we assembled the two domes according to these hilarious yet exceedingly clear build instructions, courtesy of Eric and LayOut.

Banging pipes together at World Maker Faire. See more photos of our geodesic dome build here, or watch the sketchthis.net time lapse of our build here.

The next day, our team hammered together several pieces of SketchUp-designed PVC furniture (generously contributed by our friends at FORMUFIT), and fitted vinyl tarps to the roof. We had designed the tarps to be a modular shading system, so that we could leave some sections of the dome exposed or cover everything up in case of crummy weather.

To derive the tarps from our SketchUp model, we drew out some basic gore-like polygons over the dome component and then used the Flattery extension to derive their dimensions for printing. The tarps were manufactured with grommets that allowed us to join and secure them with zip ties.

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Our tarping system was one of those simple ideas that was meant to work, but not be perfect. We anticipated (and desired) stretching in the tarp, so we modeled our gore polygons for stretched-out coverage, then laid the geometry flat with Flattery.

Throughout the weekend, thousands of attendees -- attracted by the awesome sight of our booth and the promise of shade -- wandered through our domes, where they were pumped full of SketchUp knowledge and slapped with these bracelets before being sent, disoriented, but not sunburned, back into the Faire.

We introduced a lot of people to SketchUp and Buckminster Fuller (not bad company, right?) over the weekend, and now we have a pair of geodesic domes to keep us cool at the next team picnic.

The SketchUp team on good behavior at Maker Faire. We also did a lot of this.

Posted by Mark Harrison and Andrew Strotheide

Looking to build your own geodesic? Explore the links above, then download this dynamic component model and these build instructions to get started. Be sure to Tweet us the pics if you pull it off!

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Create instant photoreal snapshots with Visualizer

Simple, fast, fun: three adjectives we often use to describe SketchUp. They also fit pretty well for Visualizer, an extension that provides instant photographic previews of SketchUp models and exports fast, clean photoreal images. You know, delicious stuff like this:

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3D Warehouse model of the Sydney Opera House, processed in about 60 seconds with Visualizer.

I’ve been playing around with Visualizer since 3D Basecamp 2014, so this post is a collection of my impressions to date, and a few tips I’ve picked up on.

The first time you activate Visualizer, it feels a bit like turning on a photographic assistant inside SketchUp -- someone following your modeling work, quickly re-painting your sketches into polished scenes… while you’re orbiting and sketching. For me, it was a new -- and for sure, fun -- experience to tune into this instant feedback. (Incidentally, Visualizer costs $19.99 and starts with a 7-day free trial, so in a few clicks you can download it and see for yourself).

You’ll notice right away that Visualizer makes it one-click simple to create slick photorealistic images. We’re not talking about jaw-dropping renderings that take four hours to process in a server farm. The Visualizer team hasn’t built a rendering engine here; they’ve built, well, a visualization tool.

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Visualizer’s controls are practical and simple. Click the lock icon at the bottom to prepare an image. Once it’s processed, click the camera icon to export. (Model: Arduino Uno by Engineer Zero)

In fact, one of Visualizer’s more interesting uses is that it offers pretty quick photoreal previews of model compositions while you’re creating them. So whether you’re exporting images directly or planning to work up a high quality render in an entirely different (and probably more expensive) application, Visualizer is definitely useful for composing the SketchUp scenes you want to use and spinning up an instant photorealistic preview that may inform choices you make later on.

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Colors, textures, shadows: Visualizer has a knack for making them pop. (Model: Fish Pagoda by Sprucetree.)

The Visualizer window scales to any size and can quickly match SketchUp’s viewport pixel-for-pixel. It’s tricky at first to figure out the best place to situate the window relative to your SketchUp model so that it doesn’t block your workspace. Ultimately, I settled on the upper right hand of my screen. I often choose to minimize Visualizer after locking the image for processing (more on that in a bit).

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Visualizer can pin to the top of your desktop, so you can neatly preview your image while composing it in SketchUp. (Model: Wine rack unit by PFritz)

I can’t pretend to fully understand how Visualizer’s ray tracing technology works, but I can vouch for the nerdy brilliance of the Visualizer team. These guys are pretty much obsessed with making Visualizer as simple as possible, and I found that effort coming through while using it. (If you happen to be interested in what’s happening under Visualizer’s hood, check out this interesting post from their parent company, Imagination Technologies).

Chatting with James and Suguru from Visualizer at 3D Basecamp, I got the sense that they were inspired by the camera app on smartphones (something almost everyone already knows how to use). And it turns out, that’s pretty much how Visualizer works. A simple click on the camera icon captures whatever’s on your screen and exports to JPG or PNG (with an option for transparent background).

Side note: Generally, I have no clue where files get saved to on my computer, but right next to Visualizer’s camera icon is a quick link to the folder where my images live. It’s also easy to customize directories from there, so people like me can easily clutter up their desktops.

Feeling frisky? Play around with Visualizer's auto-focus and exposure settings.

A few other tips I’ve picked up on in my adventures with Visualizer:

  • Definitely use the image lock tool... a lot. For the highest quality images, it’s best to lock an image and let Visualizer decide when your image is ready. Visualizer will notify you when the image is fully baked. On my Macbook Pro, I’ve found that most images are done in two to three minutes.

  • SketchUp’s time of day slider is a secondary control panel for Visualizer. As far as I can tell, Visualizer light simulation takes its cues entirely from SketchUp shadow settings, so a lot of the nuance and warmth that you bake in Visualizer comes from SketchUp shadow settings.

  • There's even more control over Visualizer shadows in SketchUp’s Entity Info window. There, you can toggle a group or component’s ability to cast and receive shadows, and Visualizer will respect that choice.

  • Take the time to set-up and save your desired aspect ratios. It makes managing Visualizer’s window size pretty darn easy when you can immediately resize to the image dimensions of your desire.

There’s a bit more to explore in Visualizer -- you can tinker with camera focus and exposure too -- but I found Visualizer at its best when I kept things simple. Funny, SketchUp often works that way too.

Posted by Mark Harrison, SketchUp team

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Modeling with architectonic tile: a conversation with Tilelook

Based in the Veneto region of northern Italy, Tilelook is a technology services company that works with manufacturers in the bathroom flooring, coverings, and furnishings world. Now, as a 3D Warehouse content developer, Tilelook makes those products available to SketchUp designers around the world via 3D Warehouse. We spoke with Marco Rossi from Tilelook about their recent work building out the 3D Warehouse catalog for FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE tiles from the manufacturer Ceramica Sant’Agostino and designer Philippe Starck.

Ciao, Marco. Can you tell us a bit about who’s behind the FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE catalog you recently posted to 3D Warehouse?

Ceramica Sant'Agostino produces floor and wall products made of ceramic and grès, with a range that covers both interiors and exteriors for residential and public use. The company has a 50+ year history in the ceramic tile sector and a reputation for high quality, cutting edge technology, and respect for the environment.
The collaboration between the creative genius of French designer Philippe Starck, and the immense industry know-how of Ceramica Sant’Agostino, has resulted in a project called FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE.

The FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE modeling set by Philippe Starck (modeled by Tilelook)

What’s unique about FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE?

FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE represents a new vision in the tile world, brought to architects by an iconic designer. It’s a new territory, a different point of view: the wall tile leaves the two-dimensionality to “invent” the three-dimensional.

The idea behind it is to move beyond the decorative nature of tile as simply a wall covering and use it a modular element that is part of the architecture. With FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE, the wall covering takes on a totally new potential: from customary decorative element to architectonic system.

Who will be interested in the FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE tiles you’ve posted on behalf of Ceramica Sant’Agostino and Philippe Starck?

SketchUp users who are professional architects and interior designers will definitely be interested in these tiles for their designs. Students who are studying architecture and interior design will also probably be interested in using these tiles in projects. Maybe even amateur designers who are looking to explore ideas for an upcoming project will like to use these too!

Do you have any advice to SketchUp users who want to best utilize these tiles in their SketchUp model?

As Philippe Starck has said, these tiles should be treated as more than just a decorative element. Unlike traditional tile represented as a SketchUp material, the FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE models give SketchUp designers the freedom to create their own 3D tile designs. Each element of the FLEXIBLE ARCHITETURE line is represented as its own SketchUp model, so designers can combine elements to create their own unique combination and apply them to their designs.

Have you posted any other tile catalogs to the 3D Warehouse besides the FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE catalog?

In addition to the FLEXIBLE ARCHITECTURE catalog, we’ve also uploaded the Folli Follie catalog by Ceramiche Brennero and Tavolato by Casalgrande Padana. We’re working on posting more content soon!

Can you tell us a little bit more about your company Tilelook?

Tilelook is both a technology and services company. The Tilelook web application is our main technology. Users of it can find over 60,000 tile and bathroom products by 200 well-known brands from 23 countries around the world. They can also create and share photo-realistic rooms decorated with the authentic tile products . This is what makes Tilelook unique: it’s an ecosystem where all the stakeholders in the tile industry -- manufacturers, distributors, resellers, architects, designers and private users -- can benefit from being part of the Tilelook community.

In addition to posting content to 3D Warehouse, we’ve also created a Tilelook extension for SketchUp that accesses the Tilelook web application. Users can find this extension, along with an instructional video about how it works, on Extension Warehouse.

Finally, from a services standpoint, we’re interested in building out SketchUp models of bathroom tile, coverings or furnishings for manufacturers in Italy and around the world as part of the 3D Warehouse content developer network.

Grazie, Marco.

If you’re interested in getting your tile or bathroom products built for 3D Warehouse by Tilelook, you can find Tilelook on the 3D Content Developer page, or visit their website here.

Posted by Chris Cronin, Business Development Manager

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Details, details, details: A conversation with the International Masonry Institute

The International Masonry Institute (IMI) is a partnership between the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) and their contractors, promoting quality masonry construction. The IMI offers quality training and professional education for masonry contractors, and free technical assistance to the design and construction communities. We spoke with Scott Conwell, IMI’s Director of Industry Development and Technical Service, about the 3D Warehouse collection of masonry details that he has created and shared for SketchUp modelers everywhere.

It looks like you know your way around SketchUp. What was your first reaction to SketchUp?

I was amazed at how simple the interface was, and I loved how I could make value judgements in 3D very quickly. I only had one goal when learning SketchUp Pro: to draw masonry details. I quickly learned that SketchUp was the perfect tool for that. The type of views that SketchUp is capable of generating were ideal to show exactly what I wanted to show in my drawings. The scale of our masonry details is very appropriate for a SketchUp model. In other words, I can put as much detail as I need into my model -- wall ties, sealant joint at flashing overlaps -- and it all appears very clear in the final drawing.

What was the catalyst for deciding to put IMI’s detail models on the 3D Warehouse, and give them away for free?

There are lots of manufacturer details out there that have pretty good details; however, they are to the exclusion of other components. Masonry is a system. For example, you may find good brick drawings, but there’s more to a wall than bricks. We want to show the whole masonry system, and represent all components from a constructibility standpoint. These are reviewed and developed with input from master craftworkers that really care and are passionate about their craft; their hand is obvious in these models.

As far as providing them on the 3D Warehouse for anyone to download; well, there’s no reason not to. Our goal is to educate architects and designers about masonry, and also to highlight the skills of the trained union bricklayers and contractors.

The IMI technical team decides how to show certain components that best fit the particular detail, and thinks about how to compose the notes so they can be adapted for general use. These SketchUp models are an embodiment of ideas, and we wanted to put these ideas out there. If someone sees them, we hope they might rethink the importance of how the masonry components are put together, and who is skilled and qualified to build with these materials.

How do these details compare to traditional architectural details? Why is 3D important here?

We are not just providing a detail, we’re teaching someone how to design so an assembly can be constructed. The unique ability to modify and customize these details is powerful. For example, anyone can go into these models and copy/paste various components for use in another type of assembly.

Additionally, you have the assurance that these can be built. Unfortunately, there are plenty of 2D details out there on manufacturers’ web sites and in their literature that are not constructible! In the IMI details, you can really see how each component relates to the other in three dimensions. Until you see it in 3D, you don’t really have a good idea of what’s happening. These are not just functional; this format shows how they can be efficient to construct.

An example of a base of wall detail with the Layers window open. Note that you can turn layers on and off to get a better look at how these assemblies come together.

Who might be interested in these 3D models?

The details started out as being primarily for architects and engineers. However, we’re finding that they’re being used as teaching tools in many colleges and universities, and also in IMTEF’s (International Masonry Training and Education Foundation) apprenticeship training centers where the bricklayers, tile setters, and other masonry craftworkers are trained. We want to advocate good design and good construction practices, and each detail is created with that in mind.

Did any 3D Warehouse content aid you in creating these details?

In terms of finding useful ancillary components to go into my models; I have downloaded quite a few items that have saved me countless hours of modeling! A chair rail and crown molding come to mind, and I’ve also found some great textures embedded in the models people have uploaded. That’s where I got my plywood texture you’ll find on the sheathing of some of our masonry veneer details, as well as on some of the ceramic tile details. If I have the choice to draw something from scratch or search for it on the 3D Warehouse, I’m going to the Warehouse. Over the years I’ve painstakingly drawn many brick, block, stone components, special shapes, wall ties, anchors, you name it -- and now that they’re uploaded to the 3D Warehouse, I hope other SketchUp users find them, download them, and benefit from them.

Are there any techniques you use that you’d like to share?

In terms of style, I made the decision early on to go with an all white background, no horizon, no shadows, hard lines with no extensions, and the use of textures judiciously. This is to keep the focus on the model and the information it’s conveying, rather than a sketchy or photorealistic style. These are not meant to be photorealistic; they are details to communicate constructibility. By its very nature, masonry is a modular, repetitive element, so it only makes sense to draw a brick or a block once and then copy it. Therefore, mastery of groups and components is necessary.

IMI's Adhered Veneer - Stone Veneer detail makes good use of textures.

I always approach my models with one or two primary views in mind, so I peel back the wall’s materials strategically to optimize how the information is shown in the desired view. Sometimes a single model will generate more than one masonry detail. For example, a window jamb, window head, and window sill detail would all be generated from a single model of that window in a masonry wall -- so I make pretty good use of Scenes in SketchUp.

Do you have any advice for other SketchUp users that might want to follow your lead?

Well, I have a 15-year old son who has been using SketchUp since he was about 9. I always encouraged him to practice, and he’s actually getting very good at it. He built a model of an airplane that I was totally impressed with! His own logo on the wings, and all! I encouraged him to view the tutorials online, and I think that’s where he picked up a lot of tips.

Always respect the scale and draw things actual size. Don’t try to show too much information in your model. Keep in mind the desired view, and show just the right amount of information appropriate for that view. Have fun with textures; you’re not limited to the default textures in the Materials Browser. Try a Google Image search and download some fun ones!

Ed. note: There are a variety of other places you can explore to find textures. You can borrow textures from other models found on the 3D Warehouse (as Scott previously mentioned), use a subscription service like FormFonts, or use photos -- your own photos can be a great way to introduce the right texture/material into your SketchUp model.

Finally, have fun using SketchUp. It’s rewarding to learn new techniques and see your skills improve, and to get more efficient with your workflow. The most fun of all is the feeling of accomplishment when you’ve modeled something well, when it looks good, and it’s able to successfully graphically communicate your ideas. SketchUp makes that easy.

Posted by Josh Reilly, SketchUp Team

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Let’s have a discourse about SketchUp

“My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation...”

Jane Austen

There’s something about SketchUp that activates people. From the early days, online SketchUp communities have grown and thrived. When new platforms for discussion and sharing pop up (such as SketchUcation, Google+, and Facebook), SketchUp users seem to flock to it, wanting helpful, friendly conversation. We’ve often wondered why SketchUp brings architects, artists, educators, and others from all over the world to engage in great discussions about this simple but powerful 3D software. My theory is that SketchUp is a creative tool where the output is as varied as the unique people behind the mouse. People like to share their creations with others, and that sharing tends to evolve the conversation into techniques and solving problems. A shared passion is born.

During SketchUp’s time with Google we went through four forum platforms, each with their own set of benefits and challenges. We want to provide the very best home for the online community, but I don’t think we’ve cracked that nut just yet. That’s why I’m very pleased to announce the latest incarnation of the SketchUp Forums: http://forums.sketchup.com

After nine years of posting in our forums, I really think we have something special here. The new SketchUp Forum is powered by Discourse, which rethinks the way online communities interact with each other. According to co-founder, Jeff Atwood, “[t]he freedom to easily one-click install and run a discussion community for a topic you love is an essential part of the wild, chaotic, vibrant “let your freak flag fly” formula of the Internet that we've always known and loved.” The philosophy behind this new forum platform is about creating open, honest, and well-mannered discussions about whatever topics come up.

The Google Product Forum for SketchUp which has served us well over the past four years will be put into an “archive” mode soon which means that no new posts or replies could be created. However, the forum will stay open as a read-only resource until mid-October.

There’s a lot more that I can say about the SketchUp Forum, but I think the best way understand what’s new is to see for yourself. You’ll find many familiar faces from the SketchUp team as well as long standing members of the community. Come on over and say “hi.” Be sure to read the Welcome Post for help getting started.

Tommy Acierno, on behalf of the SketchUp team

Ed. note: Want to kick the tires on the new SketchUp Forums? Try cutting and pasting a 3D Warehouse URL into a Forum topic thread you're creating. It's always better to show than tell.

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