Wednesday, June 24, 2009

World Builder: the Next Generation of SketchUp?

This is a short film making its way around YouTube. I've seen it before, but a teacher in the UK mentioned to me that he shows it to his students as "the next version of SketchUp."

The man in the film wants to build a virtual world for the woman he loves, and the way he creates it is very similar to how you'd do it in SketchUp. He starts with simple boxes, adds details like doors and windows, applies colors and textures, brings in some shadows, etc. Flowers are trees are a little more challenging at the moment in SketchUp, but maybe future versions WILL be this easy. Enjoy!

Anyone can design anything in 3d!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bleg: Calling all Teachers and Students!

In the near future, I and some other long-time "Friends of SketchUp" will be announcing a new SketchUp forum for teachers and students in K-12. (If "K-12" means nothing to you, it's a US term for primary and secondary education.)

We even have a cool name for this new forum: SKOOGLERS.

The idea behind Skooglers is that teachers can see how SketchUp is used in the classroom and contribute their own ideas, and students can see what other students are doing. There will be Q and A, links to tutorials and other resources, and bragging rights for students who get their projects posted. At some point we'll also be running fun contests and competetions with AMAZING CASH PRIZES (or maybe T-shirts).

Before Skooglers get officially off the ground, I need YOUR help! If you are a teacher, parent, or home-schooler who uses SketchUp with your kids, please send me examples of what you and they have done. We're looking for examples in the subjects of design, math, art, geograpy, science, history, you name it. SketchUp can be used in almost any academic subject (especially when you throw in Google Earth), so anything you've done will work for us.

We want examples from kids of all ages, and I know first-hand from my own kids that even 5-year olds can produce some great SketchUp models. SketchUp models make great contributions, but also documents, videos, presentations, etc.

So.... if you have anything to contribute, or have any questions or ideas, please contact me!

I'm really looking forward to building a large, robust educational community around this fanstastic teaching tool called SketchUp.

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

PDF Versions of Kids Books!

After a bunch of hours converting files and updating my shopping cart, I'm proud to say that all of the ModelMetricks and GeomeTricks books are available both in print and PDF.

The PDF's are printable, formatted for US Letter-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), and are also great for reading on-screen.

Teachers - summer is a perfect time to check out these materials and see how you can use them in your upcoming classes. Or get ideas for your own projects.

Parents - these books are a great way to prevent summer "brain drain," especially on a rainy summer day like we have here in DC today, when your kids aren't in camp or otherwise entertained. Would you rather your kids design interesting SketchUp models and learn some cool geometry, or plug into DS or Wii all day? (OK, I admit, if we had a Wii, I might be using it all day myself....)

Anyone can design anythign in 3D!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Girls and Math: My Own Kid

Today is second-grade daughter's last day of school, and we were going over the latest topics they had learned in math. It was basic multiplication, with one-digit numbers. Then she asked how you multiply numbers with more than one digit, so on some scrap paper I showed her the longhand form: how you start with the one's place and work to the left, etc. She took to it quickly, so I showed her how to multiply a 3-digit number by a 2-digit number. Again, no problem - she got how to carry numbers over, where to line up the second row of numbers, etc. She then spent about five minutes running around singing "I love math, I'm a mathematician." She brought her scrap paper with her to school so she could proudly show her teacher.

I hope this joy of math lasts through high school and beyond, and I'm going to do what I can to encourage her excitement with numbers. I remember clearly loving math in school, and being quite good at it, but not being openly encouraged by teachers. This made me so shy that I rarely raised my hand, even though I knew the answers and did well on exams. I went on to become an engineer, but I knew plenty of girls who started out great in math, and for whatever reason lost interest in it.

Maybe things are a little different now, and my daughters will be as math-savvy as their male peers, and won't be shy about letting them know.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

PDF Versions of Kids Books

It seems these days that educators are moving away from print and moving toward pixels. I'm all for that - saving trees, no shipping cost, easier update capabilities, etc. I've surveyed many of the teachers who have used my Teacher Guide, and the consensus seems to be that PDF versions of our ModelMetricks and GeomeTricks books are what's wanted, more than print, and even more than LMS (learning management system).

So the plan is to spend a few days making the conversions, then announce when the PDF's are ready to go.

If you have an opinion on this subject, please let me know by email. Thanks!

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Updated Version of Google Earth Tours Video

A couple days ago I posted a short video on finding and playing tours of 3D buildings in Google Earth. Oops, I hadn't upgraded to Google Earth 5, but now I have, and I've created an updated video:

You can find the Google Earth tours here. Not all are created by Google, but they're all quite cool. The underwater tour is especially nifty.

Anyone can create anything in 3D!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

#1 CAD book! (for now)

I often poke into Amazon to see how my Cookbook is doing, and the sales ratings are usually all over the place. But today, for the first time that I've noticed, it hit #1 in one of its categories (CAD). Not too bad in the other categories either!

The ratings change by the minute, so I took a screen cap for posterity. (Though I'll check tomorrow and the numbers will probably be well into double digits ;-)

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Getting into Twitter

I signed up for it a while ago, and was happy with my three followers for about half a year. But everyone seems to think Twitter is THE way to get info and stay in touch with those who are interested in what you do. So follow me, and I'll follow you! I'm at

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

Monday, June 1, 2009

New Video: Tours in Google Earth

The Google Earth Gallery has a lot of tours you can look at: some are single models, some have cool animations, etc. The latest interesting thing I've found is "guided tours" of certain types of models around the world: bridges, cathedrals, castles, etc.

I particularly like the AIA Tour, which contains a few architecturally interesting models in America. So since I spent all that money on Camtasia Studio, I made a short video on how to use these tours. Enjoy!

These tours are KML files, and they are actually pretty easy to create. Maybe my next video will show you how...

Anyone can create anything in 3D!

Can't Get to Disney World Right Now?

Then at least you can get there virtually!

I read about this on the official SketchUp blog: Disney has placed all of their parks, attractions, and resorts in Google Earth. So I tried playing with it and found that a little extra explanation is required, but it is WAY cool.

In Google Earth, make sure the 3D Buildings layer is turned on. Then find the Walt Disney World Resort layer, which is located inside Gallery / Travel and Tourism. (There is also a layer for Disneyland Paris.)

When you fly to Disney World (the one in Orland), you'll see color-coded mouse ears:

Clicking on a pair of ears will open an interactive window with info on the attraction. I also found that sometimes when I double-click on the ears, I fly to the model itself (as long as I'm not looking straight down, and I'm zoomed in a bit). But for some reason, double-clicking doesn't always work. If you can't get it to work, here's a roundabout way to fly to a specific spot: right-click on the mouse ears and save the location to "My Places." Then you can find that place on the left pane, under "Places," and double-click the place name.

But what's really amazing about the Disney layer is the excruciating detail. There must be some SketchUp modelers out there who must have double vision from their painstaking work modeling all of those trees, rocks, and benches! For example, here's Primeval Whirl roller coaster in Animal Kingdom:

Every structural and decorative piece of this roller coaster is there, and it's surrounded by accurate, 3D trees. It's hard to imagine the work that went into this!

Anyone can design anything in 3D!