Book Review: SketchUp 7.1 for Architectural Visualization

This (e)book landed on my desktop and I was not sure there would be a direct benefit for Shapeways users but after giving it a quick read I thought it was worth sharing.  As a community of people with an interest in 3D modeling, Shapeways users have a head start in transferring their skills 3D modeling products, to 3D modeling architectural space.  Once you have this skill and a small portfolio it can be relatively easy to leverage this into paid work for architects, interior designers, developers and real estate sales people who are looking for some eye candy to help sell a concept.

SketchUp 7.1 for Architectural Visualization by Robin de Jongh may be a good entry point to get started using free software, and we have 2 copies of the eBook to give away so your only investment is your time.

As I mentioned I was a little skeptical that the book would be relevant to Shapeways users along with the fact that the actual rendering is done using Kerkythea using a plugin exporter from SketchUp made me feel as though the title of the book might have mentioned this.  I have seen SketchUp renders before and though I quite like the flat, comic book aesthetic I was curious as to how they would achieve photo realistic renders and exporting to this (free) external software is obviously the answer.

Now this is the point that got me interested, these professional level renders can be achieved with free software.  I know there are many Blender users of Shapeways who are already making the most of this (there also seems to be some Kerythea Blender integration) but this paragraph in the book reveals a logic behind the use of free software…

a subtle but very, very important psychological reason you should try
free software.The reason is that the more you pay for software, the
more you will feel compelled to use that software, rather than
something better. ….. because some other software is always being
released better than what you’ve got already. And if you haven’t bought
any software yet, you end up spending all your time trying out,
evaluating, and poring over product reviews rather than getting on with
creating great visuals. With free stuff you just download it and launch
right in.

Ok, so can you launch right in using this book as a starting point? Sure, the instructions are straight forward with some nifty tricks to using SketchUp, Kerythea and Gimp.  There are plenty of screen shots so you can see what the author is talking about including important tips for rendering big scenes like reducing the poly count. It does also explain how to output renders direct from SketchUp and these are the typical flat render style but with a few tweaks to liven it up a little.

The book is broken down into 11 Chapters ranging from a Quickstart tutorial – Photo Real Gallery Scene through to Composing the scene, Modelling for Visualization, Photo-realistic rendering, Image compositing and after effects, to Animated flyovers and walkthroughs.

I did not have time to complete all the tutorials but if you are interested in trying the SketchUp 7.1 for Architectural Visualization out, PACT Publishing has generously given us a couple of copies to pass on to Shapeways users.

If you are interested use twitter to tweet a link to one of your Shapeways models and include @shapeways. We will then need to pass on your name and email address so they can send you a link to download the eBook.

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Shapeways Designer Evangelist
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