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How did you learn to use Sketchup?

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  • How did you learn to use Sketchup?

    Although I eventually switched majors to Information Technology, I started college as a Mechanical Engineering major. So back in 1968 I took the requisite mechanical drawing classes, with T-square and pencil, of course. My career was in software development, albeit for financial applications, and I've managed IT shops for some of the largest financial institutions. So to say I am computer literate would be an understatement.

    But I've tried to use Sketchup (free version) a few times, with less than stellar results. I've used the learning tutorials, and I can follow those pretty well. When I get off on my own, I usually run into problems. Like the last time, the "Follow Me" tool was apparently following someone else. I get frustrated, give up, and go back to rough hand drawing. I think it would be helpful to be able to use a CAD program, and I'd like to learn Sketchup.

    For those of you who are using Sketchup, how did you learn it? How long did it take you to get good? Any tips you have will be appreciated.

    - Frustrated in Forked RIver
    Tony

    "Nothing would be done at all if a man waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault with it."
    - Cardinal Newman

  • #2
    I started off using graph paper and never found a replacement until had a chance for an encounter with Visio. I tried several times to get into Sketchup. I just cannot find anything I really like except the 3D aspect. This is not a technology thing since I have been programming since 1980. I did our current home exterior in Sketchup to model a roof design for a new addition. That was fun and did help us with the design. When it comes to building cabinets where dimensions and plywood sheet layout I go back to Visio. I wish they had a less expensive version but for the time being I will stick to the 2003 version I own.

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    • #3
      I've used Visio quite a bit for documentation, but never for 3D, and never for setting up dimensions. I think I have a later version, maybe 2011 that I purchased for a consulting project I was doing. I was doing process flow diagrams. Maybe I'll give that a try.

      For plywood layout, cutting diagrams, and cut lists, I use a free program called MaxCut. It will lay out cuts on any material, since you define the attributes of the material you're using. I just used it on a Workbench build, and I had very little waste. It's pretty easy to use, unlike Sketchup!

      What is your field? I was a middleware programmer. Started out in assembly language on naked minis, then moved on to VAX computers, and then to C/C++ on Unix/Linux, and finally Java on Linux and Intel platforms.
      Tony

      "Nothing would be done at all if a man waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault with it."
      - Cardinal Newman

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      • #4
        http://sketchupforwoodworkers.com/

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjTV...O4LfiSpp41dXn_

        Joe

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        • #5
          Sketchup has really frustrated me: with my background in technology I would have expected to be a master of it very quickly, but it has a very different learning curve. While I can create simple structures on it, I run into problems doing all the great stuff I see done online.

          I was given that link Joey shares above, some time back and I did not persist with it; but looking at it again I think I will give it another try - looks like the right type of instruction that should help.

          But my tip, Tony, is this: I have found that I can make better progress by standing others' shoulders - there are thousands of free models available online (sketchup's own 3D warehouse is itself limitless), and I spend a few minutes searching for something that is close enough to what I want to build, download it, and then tailor it to my specs. Last year when we were redoing our kitchen and my wife was going crazy trying to make sense of hand drawings, I used this trick to come up with various what-if scenarios, so there was minimal surprise for her comparing her pick with the final product. Same with an executive desk I am building.

          Try it - it helps you learn, and still not get stuck at modeling when you want to move with your project.
          It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
          - Aristotle

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          • #6
            tmaceroli: Except for very early in my IT career (1980 - COBOL payroll app on mainframe) I spent my time in technical support. I installed and maintained mainframe programmer tools and languages. SAS & FOCUS as an example where I was the go between for technical issues. Later I was the primary contact for automated testing product Win Runner. I gave hands on lessons and class room talks about how to use the product. Also I was the support person for the CA Gen (AKA IEF) maintaining the desktop, middleware & ZOS platform parts.

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            • #7
              I've got to admit that I've been pretty challenged by most 3-D drawing programs, but SketchUp not quite so much. I took drafting in HS and later in night school to become a tool designer. But halfway through that I landed a job as a technical illustrator, doing mostly isometric exploded-view illustrations for parts catalogs. That evolved to a lot of illustration work on the drawing board using a parallel and triangles (I always found mechanical drafting machines very cumbersome.

              With advent of the personal computer I made the jump in the late 80's using Micrographyx Designer and later Corel Draw, the latter is still my 'go to' illustration platform. But with those programs everything is just flat, plain old drawing board-style work with you figuring out your own angles and singular views per illustration.

              I tried AutoCad early in it's market and found it difficult and way, way to expensive. I found Micrographyx and Corel easier as I could use them the way I use the drawing board and therefore more efficient for illustration work. Other programs came along and I tried a few of them, names lost to my memory at the moment and I believe lost to everyone else too. Among them was an early version of Viseo, but seemed to be very limited. Later 3-D programs also came into being, and while their examples were fantastic in their lifelike rendering, I simply couldn't draw even the simplest of objects. Their interfaces were grossly complicated and I felt like a real idiot, as I couldn't begin to produce even the simplest of objects. I think that was the case with others too, as they have long been lost to history.

              When SketchUp first came out I was skeptical, but found that I could at least draw a simple rectangle or cylinder and round the edges or drill a hole in them. The movement of the object in a 3-D plane was also very simple and effortless and from just that simple "primitive" process I found I could make our pretty well.

              For me, my mind had already been formed on a 3-D like object (I did isometrics overwhelmingly) and therefore had the ability to envision the shape of things. So I don't start with a flat "orthographic" view, going straight to the 3-D view from the start. Actually, I don't think I've ever looked at the orthographic view in SketchUp. Main thing for me, is to figure your dimensions first, and zoom in to the object and start a primitive (rectangle, cylinder or whatever) there and let your field of view expand as your illustration grows.
              although I work with precise measurements, I don't put dimensions on my illustrations, preferring instead to sketching those on a sheet of paper that I take to the tools later. In SketchUp I basically design to exact dimensions, making the object and it's components fit together and in the process giving me the shape and function that I am trying to accomplish.

              While I do spend some time reading about the program, I generally just jump right in once I have the basics figured out. I seem to learn best trying to create something first and generally only go back to the instructions when challenged. Having an actual project that I'm challenged with works a lot better for me, personally (it's just the way my brain works I guess.) While I have played around with SketchUP at first, my first real project was a small table with a drawer. It was just made from some scraps I had here in the shop, but it came out quite well and I found SketchUp really neat in figuring the drawer and how I could slide it in and out, checking clearance, etc.... all before I ever approached the shop tools.

              I do have a CD titled "SketchUp for Woodworkers - the basics"... I have yet to find time to review it though. I bought that from Fine Woodworking.

              Earler this year (or was it last?) I worked with another member here, to come up with a design for a new SMT slide design that could be made on a 3-D printer. Actually, it was his swell design, and I produced it in SketchUp so he could print it. While it seemed to look okay in SketchUp, I had some challenges in getting it to work with a 3-D printer. Finally I think we imported it into Autodesk's free version of their "123D Design". While that worked well with the 3-D printer, I just couldn't find the time to learn to use that program enough to generate the part there. Same is true of Autodesk's "Fusion 360". Both were free one-year subscriptions and they look like really fantastic programs, but quite simply I couldn't find the time to learn them. (Free time in my retirement seems forever elusive.)

              CWS
              Last edited by cwsmith; 11-12-2017, 05:58 PM. Reason: Clarity
              Think it Through Before You Do!

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              • #8
                Thanks all for your suggestions. Very helpful!
                Tony

                "Nothing would be done at all if a man waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault with it."
                - Cardinal Newman

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                • #9
                  I wanted to use SketchUp, but it wonít run in my iPad. I really miss Autocad and want a cad type program. Iíve loaded OnShape on my iPad but have not had taken the time to learn it. My prior research while looking for a SketchUp type program for the iPad, OnShape appeared to operate similar, and doesnít require a suitcase full or memory and operating system.

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                  • #10
                    You guys should really check out Fusion 360. It is free for hobby guys. Incredibly powerful and stacks and stacks of Youtube tutorials. Don't let the fact that it is cloud based deter you. It works very well and is updated every month with fixes and features. And the price is right.
                    Lee

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Stytooner View Post
                      You guys should really check out Fusion 360. It is free for hobby guys. Incredibly powerful and stacks and stacks of Youtube tutorials. Don't let the fact that it is cloud based deter you. It works very well and is updated every month with fixes and features. And the price is right.
                      Thanks!! I will definitely check it out!
                      Tony

                      "Nothing would be done at all if a man waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault with it."
                      - Cardinal Newman

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