Goodbye Aidan. Hello Bitsbox.

Ten years. That's how long I was a member of the SketchUp team. I spent that time starting this blog, teaching classes, writing the For Dummies book, hosting 3D Basecamps, and a thousand other things. But the thing I'm most proud of is helping to establish the SketchUp for Education program: working with kids, parents and teachers to make 3D modeling a part of their lives.

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The @Last Software team on July 6th, 2004, the day we launched SketchUp 4

When Scott Lininger (the co-inventor of Dynamic Components and lots more) approached me about leaving SketchUp with him to start a company that teaches little kids to code, I knew I'd found my (next) calling. I've been trying to learn how to program for years—what if I'd had the chance to learn when I was six? As a creative person, there's no single skill I've spent more time wishing I had. I don't want to be programmer; I want to be a person who can code. I want my kid to be a person who can code. What parent doesn't?

So I talked it over with my wife Sandra (you know her as the LayOut Product Manager), and we decided I should go for it. It wasn't an easy decision: The SketchUp team is my extended family, and this community has been the kindest, most generous and humble mob of people I've ever had the pleasure to know. And I love SketchUp. I LOVE it. (I still dream in SketchUp sometimes.) It's part of my DNA.

About 10% of the SketchUp shirts I've collected over the years.

Scott and I left the team to work together full-time in June. In the time since then, we've created Bitsbox: A free website where kids can build apps that work on real devices (like phones and iPads), and a box full of app projects that gets delivered to our subscribers' kids every month. The video we made for our Kickstarter campaign explains it:

Other good news: Last week was Computer Science Education Week, and over 200,000 kids built apps with Bitsbox online. You can, too. We were featured in very nice articles in TechCrunch and GeekDad, and we were the Kickstarter Project of the Day on the 11th. And we're just getting started.

Aidan and Scott at Bitsbox World Headquarters in Boulder

If you'd like to support a couple of ex-SketchUppers in our effort to make coding less scary, or you'd like to pre-order Bitsbox for some kids you know, please do. At the end of the campaign, when we ask you if you know any Super-Secret Codewords, put in "SketchUp" and we'll include something special in your first box. Maybe a hair from John Bacus's magical beard. Maybe something even better.

THANK YOU for ten amazing years. It was a pleasure. Maybe we'll see each other at the next 3D Basecamp. Reach out if you like: I'm Onwards!

Posted by Aidan Chopra, SketchUp Evangelist (Emeritus)

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Introducing Paid Extensions in Extension Warehouse

Today, we're pleased to announce that Extension Warehouse has just crossed into the realm of fully functional app store. This means that in addition to the hundreds of fantastic SketchUp extensions that are freely available, you can now purchase and install paid extensions directly through Extension Warehouse, in just a few clicks.

Now, Extension Warehouse lets you purchase and install paid extensions from SketchUp developers.

We hope that enabling the sale of paid extensions will be a game changer for SketchUp users and developers alike. Users get direct access to awesome paid extensions that streamline modeling workflows. Developers get an awesome E-commerce platform with access to millions of customers who are looking for great modeling utilities and add-on tools. Win-win? We think so.

It’s worth noting that credit card transactions are processed securely by the same store platform we use to sell SketchUp licenses. And we’re using the same licensing platform that SketchUp uses. Each extension is still carefully moderated by the SketchUp Extensibility team to ensure quality and security. So, the purchase process for extensions is as smooth and safe as buying SketchUp Pro.

Initially, you’ll find the following paid extensions now available through Extension Warehouse:

We're adding new free and paid extensions every week; keep tabs on the newest extensions by following SketchUp on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, or by browsing Extension Warehouse for new products from your favorite developers.

If you are a developer, our new E-commerce platform means that instead of spending a major portion of your time implementing your own licensing system, maintaining your own store front or worrying about how you’ll process your transactions, you can focus on developing great tools for SketchUp. For more information on distributing extensions check out our developer center.

Posted by Bryce Stout, Product Manager

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What are Fast Styles?

Let’s say you’re presenting an idea in SketchUp, but perhaps you’d prefer a loose conceptual look or a hand-drawn visualization — you’d rather not show what you’ve created in a way that makes it feel finished or final. Styles in SketchUp control the display settings which alter the way your model appears.

You can choose from a collection of predefined Styles, mix attributes of various Styles to make your own unique Style, and assign Styles to Scenes for handy access. The thing is, some Styles render faster than others. Because of this, you may want to use certain Styles (or Style settings) in certain situations during modeling and presentation work.

The Style shown above is called “PSO Vignette”; you can find it in the “Assorted Styles” category of the Styles Browser. This Style looks great, but it’s meant for illustration — not navigation. (Mountain Lake Retreat model by MB Architecture via 3D Warehouse)

This led us to the idea for Fast Styles: a combination of Style settings that won’t slow you down while modeling. In SketchUp 2015, you’ll notice a small green stopwatch icon in the bottom right corner of a Style thumbnail that meets the criteria of an official “Fast Style.” SketchUp now auto-detects Styles that use less processing power — this earns them the new badge.

These Styles are Fast Styles; note the new green badge.

To create your own Fast Style, you’ll need to get your hands dirty in the Styles Browser. When creating a Fast Style, you should avoid Style choices that will cause performance decline as your model complexity increases — settings like Sketchy Edges, Profiles, and Watermarks. Check out our Knowledge Center to learn more about these settings and Fast Styles, and remember to save the changes to your newly configured Styles!

However, a Fast Style doesn’t mean a boring Style. We whipped up a few custom Fast Styles and tossed them into this SketchUp model. Go to Window > Styles and jump into the "Select", "Edit", and "Mix" tabs to see what's there and mix some new Styles of your own.

This Style was created by simply changing the edges for the default “Blueprint” Style. The white Edge Setting from the “Camo” Style was applied to a copy of the Blueprint Style to create this new fast version.

A Style like the Fast Blueprint above might be a good choice when you want to present your SketchUp model in a stylized fashion, but you’d also like the benefits of smooth navigation and Scene transitions. Of course, you can still use Styles that have not earned the Fast Style badge — the benefit of working with Styles and Scenes together is that it’s easy to jump from a Scene meant for illustration to a Scene you might want to interact with. Now, with Fast Styles, you've got another trick up your sleeve for working and presenting quickly in SketchUp.

Posted by Josh Reilly, SketchUp Team

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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 on 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 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 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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