Hello to you and I can give some input but I my self am still in the learning process with this. Truth being I had never owned nor operated a computer until January of 2012. I have been home schooling self teaching, trial and error more so. Every basic need that is required just to become literate on one. I did not even now how to send or compose an email. I started with Windows 7 ( I have x64bit Pro // Office Home~Buisness2010) and very comfortable with it. I hope they maintain it as a work // utility platform. As I hear Windows 8 (and up) has or allows your screen to be like your smart phone. I am looking for a tool and not a gizmo or flashing lights and bells.
I am fascinated with this and could spend hours telling why but I have played with Rhino 5 and found some links for non commercial Autodesk CAD software. I am learning their Sketchbook art/design software and have Corel Painter Essentials 5. No Photo Shop experience ( no time!!) I now have a year with Sketch Up and feeling comfortable as a basic novice. I have found a wealth of resources to build from and a few individuals who have great tutorials. Below is a link for a free rendering program built for Sketch Up. I had installed it two weeks ago and in the process of get it going. I have to work a 40 hour week and what time I do have trying to study all the available material to use or apply. In building my knowledge is tough but I have come along way in a short time and the best is yet to come!!
I found a blog for www.finewoodworking.com Design.Click.Build. the two main editors work with SU and have hundreds of projects and plans. In following these it has opened my eyes to uses and utilization of these tools abilities I could not have imagined. Dave Richards is one of them and was invited as a speaker for SU`s bi-annual educational summit. The blog has free tutorial videos that are step by step and completely explained. He was the one who mentioned this rendering program as being FREE and is what he uses for. For his furniture plans and designs.
I started with the free Sketch Up 8 and got to use their 2013 Pro edition with an educational license. The edu. version is only $49 for a year as long as you meet their required criteria. I have been saving 20-30 dollar since 2014 and splurged for the difference and bought the 2015 Pro license. I got very lucky, I also pray every day. But last December they ran a special deal for the month of December and I saved $100.00!!! GOD is great!!! If you just need it to draw out ideas or make parts templates, the free version is assume. But if you, and I do in time will be using it as a way to improve or add another level to you business aspect. To be able to to produce cut lists, PDFs, and import your file into Lay Out. It alone will allow you to produce your own professional plans and with the Dynamic Components feature. Produce spread sheets and materials list as in Excel. It is like having Photo Shop Elements 9 or 10 for basic photo editing/family albums. You need Creative Cloud or Illustrator to compete or enhance your work commercially.
So they have always had the Pro or free version, Google - now Trimble. I found a way to afford it. Like my desktop I bought: Dell XPS 8500. What they wanted for a 19 or 21 inch monitor and speakers to go with it. $ 394.00 I told them to keep them and used that savings for 16 Gigs of RAM instead of the stock 8 Gigs and an AMD graphic card upgrade. I use my 42 inch Vizio flat screen and it is a kick ass monitor with Dolby sound!!! I use its remote to select from TV to HDMI for the desktops output source.
Please feel free to reply back or add any questions or advice as I am only growing and have a long way to go. But I see improvements everyday and love sharing ideas and thoughts. Thanks for the reply and sharing your ear. Feel free to reply anytime and…Peace…