Why in the decade of the 2010s do we have to deal with segmented arcs and circles?


I find it crazy that internally Sketchup keeps track of radii and such but displays them as tessellated or segmented lines. How hard can it be? I have been using vector graphic design programs for 30 years and have yet to see a circle defined as segments.


Thread from Aug 2018 - there is some useful info there.

Mathematically accurate curved surfaces


NURBS are mathematically accurate surfaces, but are harder to create intricate models with. NURBS and polygons both have their pros and cons.

From what I understand, it’s impossible to convert a poly-mesh into a NURBS mesh, so the 3D Warehouse would be useless if SketchUp converted to NURBS. If it was easy, I’m sure SketchUp would’ve solved the problem already. From what I’ve read,

I agree that vector-esque curves would be amazing though. At least the polygons are vectors, rather than voxels or something. :joy:

Ideally, I’d like SketchUp to combine the upsides of NURBS and polygons into a single tool, rather than making a NURBS toolset and a polygon toolset. The circle tool should make a real circle and you should be able to make the model model as complex & artistic as you want. But that might require some genius-level innovation because there might be nothing like that available yet… If NURBS software is complex to make, just imagine how complex it’d be to innovate a new type of 3D modeling software.


Have you looked at FormZ?


FormZ looks cool! I checked out their website and their gallery even has characters and stuff with smooth surfaces. Wow!


FormZ came out of bonzai which was around at the inception of sketchup. It really is sketchup on steroids. With FormZ you essentially have sketchup with all the extensions and plugins functioanlity but made by the company as a unified toolset. It has animation and its own version of Layout too.

Quite honestly I would rather use it but its hard to flip from a program that you’ve become efficient at…even with its limitations.

If you look at the nurbs video - and they have many other tutorials - you can see it as sketchup working with curviloft, etc… but its all part of the package.

It also has its own built in renderer, but there are plugins for Thea and V-ray.


just spent 40 minutes looking at FormZ Layout , seems much better resolved than SU Layout … hhhhmmmm

and true curves… actually I thought FZ predated SU… I thought I was weighing it up against UPFRONT long ago… but it was Mac only? or maybe 3 times the cost at the time… getting old

FZ seems pretty good, just maybe a small user base


Yes, it’s hard to know why one product takes off and another doesn’t…maybe it’s price?
I don’t know what the market share is between the two, but it’s odd that FormZ isn’t ahead given that it has so much more functionality natively built in than Sketchup.


it’s possible but requires a NURBS kernel of course:

the circle tool does create a true circle internally (check:export a cirle to DXF (3D version) and open w/ a text editor)… which needs to be slabbed to a polygon if processed further e.g. in connection with additional geometry.


Kinda random pick but this shows their version of the follow me tool…more options than sketchup and probably could replace “profile builder” too.



FormZ seems quite similar to SketchUp in many respects.


You could buy FormZ… or Trimble could buy FormZ!


Bonsai3D came out of the original FormZ, during SU v7, it was directly targeted at SU Pro users and the Beta was promoted and supported on SketchUcation…

there are pages of feedback if you do a search…

as it developed. more and more of the ‘innovations’ were added to FormZ and more of FormZ’s reserved features where added into Bonsai3D…

I know appears to be a cut down version of the family…

form•Z jr ,formerly bonzai3d, is a powerful, and intelligent form generating tool to explore design alternatives with advanced surface and solid modeling tools, NURBS creation, components, sun studies, and presentations. RenderZone is available for form•Z jr .



I’ve always had the pro version which comes packed with the functionality we can only get in sketchup with extensions. Do you think its shortcoming is that it “cannot” have custom extensions written for it? - if indeed it can’t. If someone new were to come to a software choice between the two what would you say the pros and cons are?


There seems to be a way to do 3rd party plugins with Form Z I just don’t think that there are many of them.



Interesting, I didnt know that


Nor did I until I got a copy of Form Z and started lurking on their user forums. Form Z has been around a while. Back in the early 2000’s I worked with a guy at a “certain doughnut corporation”. He and I were the 2 store planners and he used Form Z. Back then it either didn’t have a 2D layout function or was pretty basic. So I’d take his conceptual designs from FZ in AutoCAD and produce 2D drawings. This was the time I discovered SketchUp, V2, and I haven’t looked back. I do like the current Form Z for what it offers but I am so ingrained into SU that I have to learn how it works. To me it’s not as easy as SU but nothing really is. :wink:


As far as I remember, the pro version always had layout? but I can’t say for certain. Back in the @last days of sketchup I was looking at what was then Bonzai, which didnt have layout, but I got swayed by a promotion within my own industry to buy Sketchup. I think we all get comfortable with what’s familiar, even if it means dealing with “workarounds”, and like yourself Sketchup is my default program, even though I believe FormZ to be better in many ways.
One of the options to make FormZ feel a little more like sketchup is to change the color preferences, I’ve always found the dull beige background a little weird.


That’s what I recall. I couldn’t quite get into FormZ in the '90s as I was immersed in UpFront at the time and then moved to SketchUp.

Any fans of FormZ might want to check out Alfred Scott’s Open Clip initiative.

What is OpenClip

OpenClip is a no-copyrights, no-licenses, royalty-free, nobody-owns-it open standard for implementing vector graphic Copy and Paste using Apple’s Cocoa programming tools. Everything you need to implement OpenClip is provided here on this website.

OpenClip works by putting vector graphic objects into an NSDictionary and then putting this on the pasteboard as an OpenClip flavor. Any program that supports OpenClip would then get the NSDictionary from the pasteboard, run through the list of drawing objects and add them to the current drawing.

OpenClip closely follows the Quartz/PDF standard of dealing with drawing objects. The coordinate system is the same as Quartz and all of the terminology will be familiar to any CAD developer. Think of it as “PDF for the rest of us—or at least us CADs.”

He implemented it so going between PowerCADD and FormZ is nothing more that copy and paste, no DWG or DXF needed. He’s stated the intention to do the same with SketchUp. He’s created it as an open standard, so anyone can jump in and do so, I suppose. Anyone more inclined to programming have any interest?