Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Review: Google SketchUp for Interior Design and Space Planning

As you can see from this post and the last one, I'm catching up on some overdue book reviews. In a complete turnaround from Dennis Fukai's construction modeling book, these 4 books by Adriana Granados focus on interior design.

If you've been following my blog or newsletter, you know that I'm working on an interior design book myself, to be published next year by Pearson. (Only 3 more chapters to write!) While there is some overlap between our books, they are different enough that I can let you know about Adriana's books without (hopefully) harming my own future sales :-)

Adriana is an architect and interior designer who's been using SketchUp for years to convey her design ideas. She decided to write these books because the interior design world doesn't know nearly as much about SketchUp as they should (I wholeheartedly agree - SketchUp is almost unknown among interior designers and it could revolutionize how this industry operates). You can read about interior design topics on Adriana's blog.

One thing to keep in mind is that the books are written for SketchUp 7. Since not much has changed between 7 and 8 for the topics covered in the book, you should be fine using the book if you have SketchUp 8. And Adriana let me know that updates for 8 should be ready within a week or so.
  • Book 1 focuses on basic drawing and editing tools, and walks you through the creation of some basic pieces of furniture and accessories (table, bookcase, lamp), as well as room.

  • Book 2 moves on to groups and components, intersection, and symmetry. Also covered are how to find models in the 3D Warehouse and organize your design using the Outliner.

  • Book 3 discusses color and material, free pins and free pins, and importing images.

  • Book 4 covers changing model styles, walk through tools, sectioning, scenes, text and labels, and shadow studies.
The project steps are illustrated clearly with color graphics, and throughout the book are references to videos you can get access to by emailing Adriana.

Overall I found these books useful for the beginning or intermediate SketchUp user. There are a few spots where I would have demonstrated a project using different techniques, and I always tend to prefer more graphics and less text (especially for those hyper-visual interior designers). Adriana uses a lot of introductory text and graphics before delving into a project, where I tend to go straight into "click here, move the mouse..." But there are a lot of readers out there, and many different writing styles make the world go 'round!

The prices for the printed versions vary (from $36 for 104-page Book 1 to $21 for 46-page Book 3). I can certainly relate to high color printing costs, and "boutique" books always cost more than standard trade books, but these prices still seem a bit high to me. I read the books in PDF format, so I can't speak to the print quality. At this time, one of the books has a $6.99 Kindle edition, which seems quite reasonable.

You can find all of Adriana's books on Amazon; enjoy!

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

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Book Review: Mastering the Art of 3D Construction Modeling

Dennis Fukai of Insite Builders has been writing books on SketchUp since 2004. I met him way back at SketchUp's first Base Camp in 2005, where he was showcasing his then-new book "3D Construction Modeling." Dennis is an architect who worked for 30+ years as a construction manager, and his books fulfill his other career wish: graphic design. His books consist mainly of simple and clear screen captures, annotated with comic-book style callouts. Light on text, easy to follow.

He recently sent me a copy of the latest version of his original book; this one is called Mastering the Art of 3D Construction Modeling.

This book consists of two separate things: the book itself and an accompanying CD.

The CD includes a series of short, illustrative videos, divided by chapter. Viewed in order, the videos show how to use SketchUp to accomplish each chapter's topic: site setup, excavation, floor framing, wall framing, roof framing, etc.

Here's an example of one of these videos:

(The videos are on YouTube, but they're much more useful and informative when viewed in order, in conjunction with the book.)

For each chapter, the CD also contains several "tips and tricks" videos, which show how to use a particular tool for a construction goal. (For example, the Foundations chapter has one T&T video on using the Move tool for spaced copies, and another T&T video on using the Outliner to organize foundation pieces.)

The CD also provides a completed SketchUp model for each chapter, which you can use to deconstruct and build back up according to the videos' instructions. Some chapters also have links to SketchUp models you can use as components, so that you don't always have to rely on the sometimes-unreliable 3D Warehouse. The resources chapter shows where to find shortcuts, buzzwords, checklists, templates, software downloads, and other books and tutorials.

The printed book itself a basically an illustrated index for the videos. So the best way to get the most of the whole package is to plug in the CD, play the videos one by one, and follow along in the book. If you want to get your hands dirty and REALLY learn this stuff, open the chapter's provided SketchUp model, and recreate the results of each video, one by one.

Here's a sample page from the book, which shows Dennis's graphic style:

Right from the start, Dennis gets you familiar with the tools and features that construction modelers (as opposed to architects or designers) need: layers, scenes, Outliner, guide lines, scaling and sizing, etc. The order of the book matches the order of an actual construction project, and the final result describes the building process, as opposed to product. Dennis's goal is to show you how to produce models you can use to easily convey this process to the entire construction team.

The book and CD are a bargain at $29.95, and are available on Dennis's site (free US shipping!) and Amazon. It's worthwhile to check out his other books as well, all of which use the same graphic style. (I personally like Living Small since my husband, 5 kids, and I are crammed into a pretty small house!)

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Grandma Riding Her Bike

I wasn't actually searching the 3D Warehouse looking for this; I was looking for a different model created by one of my students that I wanted to blog about. (She took that model down to make some changes, but will replace it later and then I'll show it off!) But while poking around, I ran across another model that made my day.

I'm into tessellations (as anyone who's read this blog would know), and found an Escher-like tile that was created by modifying a rectangle, by a student (or a teacher?) at Nevada Middle School.

Here's how he or she decorated this tile:

And after adding one more grandma with different colors, here's the tessellation:

If you want to get this model for yourself, click the model view below to go to its 3D Warehouse page.

Once you're in the 3D Warehouse, take a minute to browse through the Related Items - more models uploaded by Nevada Middle School. There are some other great tessellations, as well as nice 3D house models.

And if you like Escher, I posted a free project on the Math Forum that shows the steps needed to create this sort of pattern. Scroll way down to October 2009.

And if you subscribe to our Projects of the Month, one of this month's projects shows how to make Escher patterns from a hexagon.

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

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What is this Solid?

For this month's project on the Math Forum, I'm demonstrating how to set up a sectioned animation like this:

It's a great student exercise in 3D thought - figuring out what an object is based on section planes moving through it in a couple of different directions.

To see how this model can be set up, please see my FREE projects page on the Math Forum:, and download the April 2011 project.

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

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Friday, April 8, 2011

What's Coming in Our April Projects?

Next week on the 15th we'll be sending out some useful stuff! If you're a subscriber to our Projects of the Month, here's what you'll get:

Escher Hexagons

This project takes advantage of the fact that a regular hexagon can tessellate infinitely to fill a plane. By making a few changes to a single hexagon, you can make some wild tiling patterns.

Sharing Your Models

Ever notice how SketchUp models sometimes appear on websites and blogs (such as this one), or on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites? This project will show you how that's done, and how you can get your model to appear in 3D on the web.

Section Planes and Animation

One of last month's projects showed how to use section planes to help "get inside" a house to furnish it.

This project takes this idea one step further - using section planes to create an animation showing both inside and outside views. To see the animation itself, go see my blog post from earlier today (

If you want to get these projects, as well as 33 more over the course of 12 months, sign up here to subscribe (still just $36 per year).

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

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Section Planes and Animation

One of the Projects of the Month going out next week (April 15) shows how to use section planes as part of an animation. This is useful when you want to show interior views of a house, like this:

The animation above uses just four scenes and three section planes, and took about three minutes to put together.

Want to see how it's done? Subscribe- it's just $36 per year.

Anyone can design anything in 3D!

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