I recently started using Sketchup for designing projects I am working on and I thought after a few weeks of use now was a good time for a review. I started using Sketchup because it was a free great alternative to buying a copy of Autocad. Programs like Sketchup, Autocad and Solidworks have grown greatly in popularity with the entire maker and maker space movement over the last several years.

If you’re unfamiliar with Sketchup here is some history on the software. SketchUp (formerly Google Sketchup) is a 3D modeling computer program for a wide range of drawing applications such as architectural, interior design, civil and mechanical engineering, film, and video game design.

SketchUp was developed by Startup Company @Last Software in 1999. Google acquired @Last Software in March of 2006 attracted by @Last Software’s work developing a plugin for Google Earth. Google rebranded Sketchup to Google Sketchup in January of 2007. Trimble Navigation acquired SketchUp from Google on June 1, 2012 and changed the name back to just Sketchup.

Sketchup is available via freeware but SketchUp Pro is a paid version with additional functionality. Sketchup Pro has additional 3D export options such as numerous cad formats, 3DS, and object. Sketchup Pro allows users to author dynamic library components, this is done with the component attributes dialog, which is only available in the Pro version of SketchUp. The Pro version of SketchUp also comes with Layout 2, a presentation package as well as Style Builder, a tool to create your own unique styles. Sketchup Pro has other features as well that are only available in there Pro Package.

SketchUp Pro is typically sold as a single user license with 1 year Maintenance & Support at a pretty high price tag of $695.00. Compared to Autocad 3D for a 1 year subscription at $1,400.00 a year or Solidworks who has not changed in price since it was first released in 1996. One license is $3995. Annual Subscription service, which covers technical support and upgrades for one year, is $1295. SketchUp Pro seems like a bargain at almost $700 dollars and the value for your dollar is not bad at all. That’s if you even need the paid version the free version maybe all you need.

I like how in Sketchup it’s so easy to design using there draw then push and pull method making someone without a background in CAD able to design an object. Designing using measurements is very simple with their tool kit. Sketchup has a great support forum and YouTube video collection. I had no background in using Autocad or Solidworks and within an hour I was drawing shapes and making house drawings.

Using the Large Tool Set tools the modeling environment and dynamic components make design very simple, easy and a lot of fun for the user. The software makes it so anyway can design or draw components on the computer. Sketchup may not be a replacement for more powerful traditional cad software but maybe enough for your Do It Yourself projects at home.