Sketchup - 57 varieties?

I presume that when the original developers were casting around for a name, they thought about people who Draw Up designs but changed it from DrawUp to SketchUp. Maybe that happened because of the humour in having it sound like a well known variety of tomato condiment.

Ironically though, one of the things you can’t easily do in SU is to sketch. For a building designer, that is a major drawback. I bet many of us still start with pencil and paper. But pencil and paper has the drawback that it is very difficult to be sure you are drawing anywhere near scale. When you transfer sketches into CAD, you often find they don’t work the way you had hoped. There is a gap in the market here, surely?

There is some very good sketching software for iPads aimed at artists and graphic designers, but what I hanker after is some hybrid between full blown CAD and a simple means of electronic doodling - something that allows you to design in a loose and fluid way roughly to scale and then be able to transfer the end result to a CAD package to work things up in detail. Or maybe someone knows of a package to do just this already?


I’m also looking and have been looking for the same thing for a while. I am currently playing with ‘Draft Paper’ on my iPad Pro.

Might be worth a look.

This does seem like a gap in the market. There have been drawing tablets such as Wacom for some time, and there are now pencils that work with devices such as iPad. But, like you, the software I have seen is geared toward free-form artistic drawings. For me, the challenges in free-hand drawing have always included a) getting lines straight (and circles round), b) getting angles right, particularly for perspective, and c) attaining the same scale across the parts of the sketch. An app that “understood” what you are trying to create is a “mechanical drawing” would be great!

What I imagine is a tablet and stylus. You would draw directly on the screen and would have guides to keep you on axis (unless you deliberately disabled that) - much like drawing in SU in fact. As you draw a roughly straight line, the package would make the line straight for you. You might set a particular scale to start with, appropriate to what you are drawing and the size of your tablet.

All this is really just SU designed for tablet and pen, so not a huge technical leap (you wouldn’t think). Maybe it’s in development as we speak!

I can make ‘scribbles’ in Preview and make a choice to keep my hand drawn scribble or convert it to a vector circle or line.
That would be great.
With the new iPad, I could lidar the environment, and then draw directly in it, kind of like the old match photo in SketchUp Pro, but with the inference system and directly in scale.

Huge potential.

25% of our clients are on Mac ( versus 10% worldwide) and even more have an iPad

A lot of architects are used to holding a pencil, one of the excersises was drawing straight lines, to train the brain-hand coordination. It is how they think…
Who invented the mouse?


But are clients just viewing what you have done or are they hands-on too?

Yes, well this takes me right back to the start of CAD for me in about 1990. As soon as I started trying to draw on a computer, I was bugged by the disconnect between mouse and screen. I remember going to a CAD show where all the big and small players attended. I spoke to several about the possibility of one day drawing directly on a screen so that it was more like pencil and paper. They looked at me as if I was Fred Flintstone and rather pityingly tried to make me understand what a wonderful thing a mouse was… Which of course it is. For everything except drawing.

Not sure I understand, I don’t do anything😃

We sell design software and render software and keep record of their preferred OS.
Worldwide, mac versus windows is about 1 out of ten

I always say to get to mars, you need Windows, to get the idea, you need Mac

Look at Morpholio Trace on the iPad.


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Shucks, there I was thinking you worked for a living!

Now “clients” makes more sense. So your clientele is one quarter Mac and the world is 10%. If only the world was more like your enlightened clients. No software company could ignore a 25% market share.

Ooh, that looks as if it could be just the ticket! Do you know whether the import into SU works? I note that it is a raster based package and obviously you would need to convert to vector somewhere along the way.

It just exports Pngs and PDFs. It’s all raster but it is kinda cool how you can import lots of stuff, set a scale (for ortho drawings) and then sketch to scale. Subscription software, though…$2.00 per month.


Several years ago my sister pointed me to the Catchbook application from the Siemens PLM automation lab which has an interesting approach to the back-of-the-napkin design method.

what is catchbook - Siemens Website

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So if you wanted to import to SU you’d have to trace over lines in an image file? Looks like a fun thing as a standalone but not quite what I’m after for SU integration.

Simon - from mobile

Yes. You’d import a bitmap (I guess you Mac users have more PDF options than us Windows types), scale and trace it. Or you could just incorporate a sketchy drawing into Layout.

I mostly tried it to have a more architecturally focused app with me for note taking/doodling when I’m out and about. The metaphor of yellow background overlays brings back memories of the long ago days of unrolling a roll of thin sketch paper over a drawing or print and sketching over it with a felt tip pen or marker.

Aaaaagh! You didn’t use the dreaded word but…overlays!

Looks quite similar to Draft Paper but I’m not sure it is available for Mac or in the UK (two things that would prevent my uptake).

I’ve used concepts app on the iPad in the past. Export to DWG or DXF (can’t remember) or JPG / PDF and bring into SKP, scale, then model. I would also use it the other direction - massing in SKP then sketching in concepts.

I’ll have to see if I have images I can post, it’s been awhile.

I think you must mean this:

It seems to be squarely directed at iPad users and is a vector based drawing app. Looks like it could be just the ticket. Thanks for the advice.

And you can export to DXF making an import to Sketchup surely possible.

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Around the same time, I used a system called ComputerVision, which used a lightpen on the monitor screen and a digitizing table (very early predecessor to what we now call tablets). The software enabled freeform linework to be used, as well as vector-based tools like straight lines, circles, etc. It worked great for sketching, even signing your name. Later in my coursework at scool, we upgraded to pucks, or early versions of mice, which again utilized digitzing tables. We had commands on the table whivh were like hotspots to click on with the puck.

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Yep, I learned Acad r9 dos with a digitizer and a puck.

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