SU free-v-SU Pro

Thank you. I tried a motion controller many tears ago but found no advantage over mouse!

I have been using SketchUP from Release 5 when the first Free Version came out. Then moved on to 7,7 & 8.
I am still using the Google SketchUP 8 Free version. It does everything needed for me.

I am a veteran AutoCAD user since 1996 and still use it. I have also acquired Autodesk Building Design Suite and I am on subscription and i stared using Revit also. Also use 3ds Max.

In spite of having all these and also having full working knowledge in each of the software, I am using SketchUP 8 Free Version simply for the simplicity of using it. I do not need pro and i would never need a pro version.

Please just go through all the video tutorials through to link others have given you. And also make it a practice to use plugins - most of them are free. You could see the Master Listing of all plugins in Sketchucation forum. As far as Boolean is concerned i have purchased Boolean Tools plugin for the Free Version of SketchUP 8. Also bought Subdivide & Smooth for free form modeling - just to play around as a hobby. Have a host of free plugins which make life much easier and you get more productivity.

I have been able to do drawings - may be in 3d prints - showing construction details with dimensions and annotations (you cannot print to scale from Free SketchUP - you need the Layout program of Pro version to do that and also produce 2d Drawings like in CAD and print them to scale).

SketchUP IS DEFINITELY NOT CAD. It works differently and take my word for it- if you went through the video tutorials and several other YouTube tutorials available in the web, you would be up and running with it in quite a short time. If you wished to to 2D drawings out of it there are free plugins to create section drawings and there is a free exported to DXF. Please Google search on all these and do a few experiments.

IMHO SU 8 Free does most of the work that the Pro does - like any other software program one has to certainly learn it - when there are so many resources available free of cost from the web - and it is certainly not difficult to learn - does not have a long learning curve like 3ds Max or Revit. Once again I mention that we use SketchUP 8 Free simply for its simplicity for its amazing features !!!

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Very interesting… I’m still puzzled by the phrase “Sketchup is not CAD
CAD = Computer Aided Design so it is indeed *CAD, *I can only
you mean either ‘it is not AutoCAD’ or that it does not work the same way
as other CAD systems? Very often AutoCAD is abbreviated to 'CAD"…

That small point aside (I’m easily annoyed by such trivia!) its clear that
must invest much more time into the tutorials.

Many thanks!

Here are some links to plugins: ---- Lot of Free plugins here. ---- a very useful plugin to create 2D section drawings & you can export it as dxf with another free dxf exporter. ---- many useful plugins from Jim Foltz

Tips for SketchUP :

Sketchup, Sketchup Plugins, sketchup texture, Sketchup Components — A very good website for learning

Please do further Google search on tutorials.

CAD: As fas as my understanding goes CAD is Computer Aided Drafting (not designing) AutoCad started as CAD only.

CADD: Computer Aided Designing & Drafting - This is for both designing & drafting.- which has what AutoCAD’s recent versions have become.

SketchUP FREE : CAD - means Computer aided Designing (not Drafting). If you bought PRO then it also becomes (the latest versions) CADD.- with LayOut and all and with advanced tools etc. etc.

Hope my 2 cents of suggestions help you.

The key to SketchUp is to group EVERYTHING (or make it a component if it is repetitive). SU automatically “glues” everything together. It is also a SURFACE modeler, as is Rhinoceros. I’m quite experienced on both and find more similarities than differences. If you want control and precision, you need Rhino. If you need flexibility, SU is great, especially as a free program. Compare that to 4 grand for Solidworks. Yes, it’s a toy compared to that, but still people make a living using only SU…it is quite capable with practice and understanding the key principles (one of which is grouping). Another is that layers ONLY control visibility…unlike CAD. SU pro mainly adds the Layout program. If you need to produce technical 2D or architectural construction documents, then you need that. Also import/export is much more limited on Make. And now with the Extensions Warehouse reaching a great maturity, the number of add-ons and their sophistication (many of which are free), really start to rival some of the features of a good NURBS modeler like Rhino. The SU user community is huge, robust and active…they love to share! THAT’S where you’ll really learn the nuances of SU. Best of luck!

Rhino and other NURBS surface modelers are something completely different than mesh modelers as SU or 3DS or Blender or C4D etc. regularly used for 3D content creation.

For creating freeform surfaces based on smooth and continous NURB splines a mesh modeler is obviously inappropriate:

you don’t need to assume what I mean, as elaborated above SU is no replacement neither for a classic 3D CAD systems as e.g. Soldiworks, NX, Creo or Vectorworks, Archicad, Revit nor for 2D CAD systems as e.g. AC, Microstation or Medusa etc.

SU main purpose is the fast and intuitive creation of 3D designs for product presentation, squeezing it above the limits as a replacement for e.g. AEC/BIM systems might work for some but is surely not the strength of SU.

‘for product presentation’- OK, that makes more sense.

PS- MIcroStation, AutoCad are most certainly NOT “2D CAD systems as e.g.
AC, Microstation”
Both are powerful and complete 3D/4D design suites with many complementary
programs for Civil, Structural, BIM, Piping, Hydrology, etc, etc. Just so
you know…

the vast majority of proffesionals do not uses AC as a 3D modeler simply because of its limited functionality in this area, no rule without exception of course.

AC is the 2D CAD product of Autodesk typically used in connection with an addon for the branch used in and mainly used for the creation of shop drawings. For 3D modeling Autodesk provides other products as e.g. Inventor or Revit or Mechanical/Architectural Desktop or 3DS as well as some (free) stuff for the maker scene etc.

I wouldn’t say limited functionality - rather limited usability. AutoCad has very powerful 3D modelling tools but somehow they haven’t succeeded in making them intuitive to use, even after copying interface features over from SketchUp.


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One of the things that made me move from SU8 to SU Pro was the unable function to download models from the warehouse, as far I know only the pro version has this feature, but I really don’t know about the Make version, anyone?

“File > 3D Warehouse” should be available in the Make version too.

It is. Surely. But it has been off line in recent times?

server outages do affect all SU versions.

I have a very simple question that sort of applies. From the sounds of it the only thing I really need is the ability to export/import obj files into Sketchup and my usual programs. I use a different program for uv mapping and rendering and thought this would be a nice program to build simple add ons. And have downloaded some of the plugins that I felt would work but are they restricted between pro and make?

The majority of Plugins work with both. A few commercial, and ones that rely on pro tools like solid tools don’t work with make.

This thread is fairly old, but since it appears to still be active, I’d like to toss my few pennies into the hat. Please forgive the length of my reply —

@godzaconic — What are you trying to achieve? Are you an architect? Engineer? Interior designer? Some other professional for whom the use of SU Pro would be beneficial? These, IMHO, are the only reasons for anyone to bother with SU Pro considering it’s price tag.

When I first ran across SU years ago, I really didn’t devote any time to it as I spent a considerable amount of time drawing freehand, both with tangible materials, and with a graphics pad, computer and art program with freehand drawing capability. I simply played around in SU. On occasion, something would turn out by sheer accident. It’s been only recently when I decided to use SU to “build” something I wanted to incorporate into a drawing. Based on what little I figured out on my own (who has time to read? LOL), and because I know I still haven’t learned everything the art program I use regularly is capable of doing, I knew intuitively there was more to SU. In working on the item I wanted to use in another piece, I started Googling YouTube videos. There are loads of vids out there. Enough of them that you can afford to be picky, and push poorly made vids aside for those that are very informative. Some of the best vids (again, IMHO), are created by carpenters and designers that use SU, though there are also some very good vids by people like me who just use SU as another artistic or fun outlet.

I use a pre-Trimble free version of SU. I have no plug-ins - can’t afford them, and it seems the freebies are worthless for me, or simply variations of native tools. I use only the native tools, I don’t use photo matching, and though I have downloaded a few things from the 3D Warehouse, I’ve used none of those items in my models - I use those downloaded items as tools to compare to similar things I am working on, or to attempt to recreate if it’s something I really like. Some of those things I attempt to recreate, I do so because they present a challenge without the aid of certain types of plug-ins (or extensions).

I have a cheap CAD-like program that I bought years ago - never could figure that program out. Occasionally, I pull it out and try again. Once again, IMHO, SU is easy - you just have to give it a chance. Maybe you are trying to hard to make SU work like another program? Maybe you need to clear your head of all experience with other programs when you sit down to use SU, and not compare it to another program - not even a CAD program. One of your posts, “My prior experience with CAD systems has conditioned how I approach the subject; SU make is therefore incomprehensible to me,” possibly says it all. Consider this, sometimes, an employer doesn’t want someone with experience in a field - they don’t want that new employee coming in and trying to do things the way he did somewhere else. The employer sometimes prefers to hire someone with absolutely no experience in a certain field so that the employer can train and mould that employee the way he wants to.

All that said… not all programs are suitable to all people. Again, I am not a professional, but there is something about my work in SU that some people like - I was blown away when I discovered that people have been downloading some of my models, and I cannot be considered anywhere near proficient on any level in SU. So far, I have come across only one thing SU doesn’t do (least ways as far as a know) that I wish it did… but hey, I get around it (or go on) and have fun.