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Graphic design & publishing software Reviews
15,670 Reviews

Google SketchUp Pro 6.0 3D design software

$495 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Google

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

Google's SketchUp Pro 6.0 is an enhanced version of its free SketchUp 6.0 program. The free version features the application's powerful 3D functionality, while Google SketchUp Pro 6.0 adds two main features necessary for professional modelers.

Google's SketchUp Pro 6.0 is an enhanced version of its free Google SketchUp 6.0 program. The free version features the application's powerful 3D functionality, while Google SketchUp Pro 6.0 adds two main features necessary for professional modelers.

One is an expanded set of export formats that allow SketchUp modellers to work closely with architects using CAD (computer-aided design) software. The other is the bundled LayOut program (still in beta). You'll need LayOut if you want to print 2D views of a Google SketchUp 3D model (or if you want to project a 2D slide on a computer screen). If, for example, you want to create a set of printed displays for a kiosk, or to present to a client, you need Google SketchUp Pro.

Google recommends SketchUp Pro 6.0 for all kinds of 3D drawing projects, and its available libraries (from Google's 3D Warehouse) include objects for plumbing, interior design, industrial design, and more. Google SketchUp Pro 6.0 is for drawing models, not blueprints - the drawing features don't support the level of precision scaling available in CAD programs, or in Adobe Illustrator, but are sufficiently precise for creating models, mock-ups, and demonstrations.

Alternative approach

Once you get comfortable with Google SketchUp Pro 6.0's drawing conventions, you can generate 3D models very quickly. The environment is completely unlike traditional 3D drawing programs, in which you draw and assemble surfaces. Instead, Google SketchUp Pro 6.0 approaches 3D drawing with a design environment based on colour-coded dots, edges, and planes that indicate dimensions. Illustrators who are used to the traditional approach may find Google SketchUp Pro 6.0's interface frustrating at first. But the ease with which you can move a wall, or adjust the pitch of a roof, and interactively adjust an entire project in Google SketchUp Pro 6.0 can justify the learning curve over time.

You can easily apply textures - like brick or concrete - to Google SketchUp Pro 6.0 models, and you can add effects like fog or shadows. You can apply strokes such as pencil lines to give a hand-drawn look to projects. And Google SketchUp Pro 6.0 allows you to add text boxes and callouts to models.

Professional illustrators will probably require more surfacing and lighting features than are available in either version of Google SketchUp 6.0, and will likely turn to plug-ins such as TurboSketch Studio to make models more realistic.

The 3D models you create in Google SketchUp Pro 6.0 also can be used to generate QuickTime movies that allow viewers to move from one perspective to another. You might, for example, create a movie that simulates a drive-through tour of a shopping center. You can find examples of Google SketchUp-generated walk-through movies on YouTube.

Google SketchUp Pro 6.0 Expert Verdict »

2GHz Pentium processor or higher
Windows 2000/XP/Vista
500MB hard disk space (15GB in Vista)
NET 1.1 framework
OpenGL-compliant video card
IE 6.0 or higher
Windows Media Player or QuickTime 5.0 or later
  • Ease of Use: We give this item 8 of 10 for ease of use
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 8 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

If you're interested in using Google SketchUp Pro 6.0 as a 3D modeller, start with the free version. If you get comfortable with the program's 3D drawing environment, and you need to export your models to formats not supported by the free version, or you need to produce 2D presentations, then consider the Pro version. If you are producing professional models, you might need to enhance Google SketchUp Pro 6.0's somewhat limited set of shading and lighting effects with a plug-in such as TurboSketch Studio.

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