SketchUp Turns Doodles Into Plans

Have you ever built a deck or a chicken coop or a bookshelf? How about the great and varied tchotchkes of 3D printing? Or bigger stuff like a shed, a boat or a house? Generally you have to draw something before you make something — be it on a napkin or CAD. But so many of us don’t draw; we don’t give ourselves permission to be creative in that way, saying we’re bad at it or we don’t know what we’re doing (sound like math to anyone? But that’s another story…). And if you do draw, then dollars to donuts that unless you’re a trained professional you’re terrified to take your doodles or plans or graphic ideas to the land of 0’s and 1’s that is your computer.

 SketchUp gives people permission to be creative. Founded in Boulder, SketchUp is one of the most widely used pieces of software by people who make things. Pick whether your starting view is from the top or the side and start doodling. Pull a rectangle. Then drag it into three dimensions. Tweak and twist it. Doodle your ideas and they become models. Export your models to documents that you can bring to others or use yourself to get what you need at Mcguckins, execute your family-sourced backyard trebuchet, or straight to your desktop 3D printer.
Personally, I’m an idiot with graphics (see, I told you we undercut our permission to be creative…). I can’t drive Photoshop and can barely resize images and add text in Pixlr. But I downloaded the free version of SketchUp last night and have been successfully doodling ideas for next summer’s guinea pig run. Not that I plan to share them with the world at large — still too embarrassed. But if you want to contribute your models or see what others have shared, take a quick hop over to the SketchUp 3D Warehouse. It’s full of goodies.
Speaking of goodies, SketchUp promises there will be snacks at the first of it’s every-other-month meetups, with the first one almost exactly two months away. I know it still seems far, far in the future, but if you’re an architect, woodworker, 3D printing enthusiast, graphic designer, interior designer, or optimistically imagining transitioning from graphics idiot to less-graphics-idiot, it’s gonna be a great chance to meet others in the same boat while learning how to drive the coolness that is SketchUp. Besides, as previously mentioned, there will be snacks.
Want a preview? Come play with SketchUp at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire, this Saturday and Sunday (Jan 31 – Feb 1, 2015) at the Boulder County Fairgrounds! Tickets are cheaper at this link than at the door:
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