Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wrapping up my review of Google SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers


At long last, I have arrived at the end of my extensive review of Google SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers, an ebook by Tim Killen. Funny, I thought I’d finish this chapter by chapter, model by model review by January 1st. Man, did I under estimate how extensive Tim’s book is! I'll provide links to the other posts in this series at the bottom of this post.

In this post, I cover the final three chapters of SUGW: adding color to a model, creating scenes for shop drawings, and then the best way to print your drawings.

Making a Model More Realistic
I have been working on a SketchUp model for an upcoming ebook, so I used that model as test dummy for the lesson in Chaper 14 – "How to Add Color and Texture to Your Model."

For quite a while now I have used the stock textures that come with SketchUp. I do this mainly so I can add reasonable looking color quickly. But my bedside table is made of knotty pine and there isn't a texture option within SketchUp that comes close to the look of pine. Tim’s instruction was perfect for what I wanted to achieve.

First I had to take a photo of the largest flat area on my bedside table. It happens to be a side panel which includes a few knots and mild variations in color. I imported the image into SketchUp and began the process of adding knotty pine to my model. I had never tried this before, always instead obtaining images from the internet, so I was curious how realistic the look would be. You be the judge…

The bedside table in real life.

The bedside table in SketchUp.

This is my most detailed model to date.

I had a little trouble getting the hang of making my model look as awesome as it does because the wood texture had to be repositioned on just about every component. Tim gives some good pointers on the necessity of obtaining a wood image which fits your components well (a long skinny image works wonderfully well with long skinny components). I learned this the hard way, which is just part of learning.

I now have begun building a wood texture library so I can expand my abilities in this regard. A lot of good information in this chapter.

Creating Cool Scenes
I once downloaded the SketchUp model for Christopher Schwarz's Traveling Anarchist's Tool Chest and thought it was pretty cool when you click on the various views (called Scenes) and how the camera view went into motion as I changed from scene to scene. I had never added scenes to any of my models. Chapter 15 - "How to Create an Effective Package of Shop Drawings" taught me how.

Scene One: The Connecticut Stool at an angle.

Scene Two: The Connecticut Stool exploded.

Scene Three: The Connecticut Stool in a head on or Orthographic View.

You can click the images to enlarge them - if you look near the tool bar that stretches across the top of the screen, you can see three tabs titled "Exploded View", "Completed" and "Orthographic View" - the three scenes I set up for this model (I had to look up orthographic view on Wikipedia - never heard that term before).

So why would you want to create various scenes of your model? As the title of the chapter indicates, you can create images or "shop drawings" of sub-assemblies within a woodworking project. Add a scene that focuses just on the components needed for that assembly; add dimensions and x-ray views to show the joinery, stuff like that. Such drawings can be valuable in the shop; helping the woodworker think through specific steps within a project.

The process for setting up these various scenes is pretty simple. To do so requires copying your model and positioning it to one side. You make an additional scene with each copy. I just wonder how this would work with an extremely detailed or large model covered with a beautiful wood texture; it seems the file size would get pretty big quickly.

Tim further explains the process for making scenes of specific components - a table leg for example. The scene could then include dimensions for joinery and boundaries for turned sections. He finishes up the chapter with instruction for making a cutting diagram for the various parts needed to build the Connecticut Stool. There is a lot of very useful information in this chapter.

Printing Images
Drum roll: I have arrived at the final chapter. It is titled "Printing Full Size Templates and Other Scenes" and again, this is another function I have not used much, mainly because the things I have printed were microscopic in size - so small, the printed images were useless to me. Not only did I learn how to correctly print images from SketchUp, I printed some really big ones...

A full size print of the bracket feet from my bedside table model.

Some things shouldn't be so hard. Tim does well in explaining the process for printing a full size view - it is a pain to do. In this chapter Tim shows the best way to go about printing images; basic stuff, but interesting none the less to see the right way to do it. He also goes into detail about printing full size templates for a couple of antique reproductions he has made. Tim gives us insight to how these templates can help figure out the needed geometry for complex woodworking projects. Again, helpful information here.

Conclusion
Google SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers has been my first exposure to formal training with SketchUp. My typical approach to learning this program has been to learn by doing. When I came upon a problem, I'd search the internet for the solution and then move on. This means I have been learning SketchUp in bits and pieces: without any logical progression from the basics forward.

So I think it would be easy to say Tim's ebook has been a ginormous help to me. I hate to say it, but after more than two years with SketchUp, there were basic things I did not know which once learned, made modeling instantly easier. And we all know how complex and frustrating SketchUp can be. :)

But not only does Tim teach the basics, he challenges the reader to create some very complex models. I'm talking about Windsor chair; Gooseneck molding kind of complex. And even though I did not complete most of the very advanced models, I have the ebook to refer to when I want to tackle them in the future. Just think: If you were to get Tim's ebook and Dave Richards' new DVD, you would be well on your way to SketchUp Nirvana.

See Google SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers at Fine Woodworking.com by clicking here. At $12.99, it is money well spent.

I read just yesterday that Google is selling SketchUp to Trimble – a company I have never heard of before. So, should future updates to Tim’s ebook be called Trimble SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers?

Links for this post:
To see all the posts in this series on Tim's ebook, click here.
Christopher Schwarz Traveling Anarchist's Tool Chest SketchUp model
And just for the fun of it: Orthographic Projection from Wikipedia.
From SketchUpdate: A New Home for SketchUp
My review of Dave Richard's video: Google SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers - The Basics
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2 comments:

David Scott said...

I am so envious of those who can use sketchup. I have tried but it is like learning a foreign language

Excellent post

Jeff Branch said...

David, it was soooo frustrating for me when I started, I was simply determined to master it (which hasn't happened yet).

I highly recommend Dave Richard's DVD at Fine Woodworking.com:

http://store.finewoodworking.com/fine-woodworkings-google-sketchup-guide-for-woodworkers-basics-download-067125.html?source=WW001UPS

He makes it look easy and it does become a lot easier after watching the video.

Thanks for the comment.