SketchUp is a leading construction drafting software with wide applications in civil engineering, architecture, mechanical engineering, interior design, and other related fields. If you are considering using SketchUp in your drawing projects, we have covered all you need to know before you get started.
- 1. What Is SketchUp?
- 2. Is SketchUp Free?
- 3. What Is the Difference Between SketchUp Free and Pro?
- 4. How Can I Download SketchUp?
- 5. Can I Use SketchUp Online or on My Mobile?
- 6. What Are the SketchUp Hardware and Software Requirements?
- 7. What Is 3D Warehouse SketchUp?
- 8. What Are SketchUp Extensions (Plugins)?
- 9. What Is V-Ray for SketchUp?
- 10. SketchUp vs. AutoCAD: Is SketchUp Better than AutoCAD?
- 11. Where Can I Find a Good SketchUp Tutorial for Beginners?
1. What Is SketchUp?
SketchUp is a 3D drafting software, currently owned by Trimble Inc. Its main applications are in civil engineering, architecture, interior design, and construction drafting. Further, it supports mechanical engineering and filmmaking.
The program has been around since 2000, was briefly acquired by Google in the past, and is still sometimes known as “Google SketchUp.” This is inaccurate because Google is no longer associated with this software. Trimble SketchUp is the only version available currently.
To use or download SketchUp, you need to sign in once at the website using an Apple or Google ID or create a separate email account. You’ll be seamlessly connected across all your devices using a single account called “Trimble Identity.” All your free trials, purchases, and discounts are associated with it.
2. Is SketchUp Free?
Yes and no. If your drafting requirements are simple, there is a “SketchUp Free” version, which remains absolutely free to use for personal projects. It has decent drafting capabilities since many core SketchUp features are available. If you’re a beginner, the free version is more than enough to get started.
SketchUp Free, however, lacks some of the more advanced features that professionals would need on the job. These include accessing SketchUp Pro extensions, Layout, and working with CAD files. To use them, you need to go for a paid version such as “Pro” or “Studio.
3. What Is the Difference Between SketchUp Free and Pro?
SketchUp Free runs online and is absolutely free to use. Any free designs you create can be used for personal purposes only and not commercial.
With SketchUp Free, you’re limited to 10 GB space for your projects, a web-based 3D modeler (for desktop), 3D warehouse and a mobile model viewer. It does, however, sync well with the paid versions, allowing you to work with SketchUp’s native .skp files and even export them as .stl files for 3D printing. For online collaboration, SketchUp Free restricts you to 5 users and 1 project, while all the paid versions allow unlimited users and projects
To use SketchUp Free, click on this link to get started on your browser. It does not require any downloads.
SketchUp Pro requires paid access. Depending on whether you go for a Shop, Pro or Studio version, a license costs between $100 to $700 per year. Sketchup licenses can be used online as well. You can upgrade from a free license to Pro on the official website, then download and install the software for Mac/Windows. There’s a 30-day free trial when using the Pro version.
4. How Can I Download SketchUp?
All SketchUp product downloads can be accessed from this page. You have to sign in to view the download options. Apart from the current software, such as SketchUp Pro 2021, you can download the earlier versions.
For desktop use, you can download an older free SketchUp version called “SketchUp Make 2017.” It has many of the core features you’d find in SketchUp’s Web version, but it does not support many of the extensions and advanced tools you’d find in the Pro version.
Even if you don’t have a paid subscription, you can download SketchUp Pro for free from the SketchUp Products Downloads page. It starts downloading as soon as you sign in for the free trial. The simple installation is supported for both Windows and Mac.
5. Can I Use SketchUp Online or on My Mobile?
All SketchUp versions – including Free, Shop, Pro, and Studio – can be accessed online. In fact, SketchUp’s latest free version is only available for Web use. For any higher version, such as Pro or Studio, the advanced features can be used online if you have the required license.
To work comfortably with SketchUp, you need a desktop interface, physical keyboard and a 3-pin mouse with trackball. However, you can use SketchUp on your smartphones and tablets with an application called SketchUp Viewer. It allows you to view and even make slight edits in your .skp files.
6. What Are the SketchUp Hardware and Software Requirements?
SketchUp’s free Web version requires a mouse and keyboard-enabled computer with an Internet-connected latest web browser, such as Chrome, Edge, or Firefox.
You need 4 GB RAM (8 GB is even better), at least a 2.8 GHz Intel processor, and a graphics card, such as AMD Radeon R9 M37X 2048 MB. Your monitor should have High DPI screen support, and you may need a 3D mouse.
SketchUp Pro has more demanding hardware and software requirements than the free version. Apart from the above, you also need a 3D class video card with 1 GB space. While you can use SketchUp Free with Windows 7, 8 or Mac OS X 10.12 (Sierra), SketchUp Pro won’t support these older versions.
7. What Is 3D Warehouse SketchUp?
3D Warehouse SketchUp is a dedicated section in the software featuring a large collection of community models to apply to your projects. These 3D objects are ready to use and cover several categories, including transportation, electronics, building products, film stage and events, architecture, landscape, furniture, food and beverage, and more.
It’s hosted online and is always accessible from any web browser. To open it in SketchUp Free, click on the 3D warehouse icon in the toolbar to your right. Once the 3D warehouse window opens, you can select any model, such as live components, products, and third-party brands. All of them are free to use.
Each model has comments and community ratings to help you assess its importance. Before downloading from the warehouse, you can get information, such as model info, file size (in MB), the total range of materials and polygons used, and the last modification date.
8. What Are SketchUp Extensions (Plugins)?
SketchUp has an extensive collection of extensions (formerly called plugins), which enhance your design with beautiful renderings, advanced 3D modeling designs, and compatibility with third-party software.
You can find SketchUp extensions in the Shop, Pro and Studio versions. Currently, the SketchUp Web version does not support any option to install extensions. The only way to do it for free is is via the “Extension Warehouse” menu in the Make 2017 desktop version. Note that you can use only free extensions or a free trial extension.
9. What Is V-Ray for SketchUp?
V-Ray is a 3D architectural rendering software by Chaos which provides photorealistic renderings of your designs (makes your designs in SketchUp look like photos). You can render your scenes with natural lighting, lens effects, contours, depth of objects, virtual reality tools, and ready-to-use 3D objects. Naturally, this component finds extensive applications in 3D printing.
V-Ray can only use it for free inside a 30-day free trial. It supports SketchUp Make 2017, which can be downloaded for free. There you can purchase the free V-Ray trial from Extension Warehouse. You’ll need good hardware: 16 GB RAM, DirectX 12 graphics card support, and SSE4.2 support for Windows x64 devices is recommended.
10. SketchUp vs. AutoCAD: Is SketchUp Better than AutoCAD?
AutoCAD has ruled and dominated 2D mechanical and civil engineering design for nearly two decades. However, SketchUp is a good replacement, as it scores agove AutoCAD in terms of 3D modeling and fast rendering of software. It’s also much easier to use for a newbie.
AutoCAD, however, remains popular, as AutoCAD designs are the standard in many industries. However, SketchUp supports importing and working with AutoCAD file extensions, such as .dwg and .dxf, as well as .stl files for 3D printing, .dae Collada files, .fbx, and Google Earth files.
11. Where Can I Find a Good SketchUp Tutorial for Beginners?
You can access SketchUp’s official tutorials here. If you prefer learning from videos, there is an official YouTube channel. All the topics covered on the SketchUp site are designed for self-paced learning, have exhaustive contents that include advanced topics, and are easy to use. They also cover the most up-to-date information. You can find additional SketchUp tutorials on YouTube and Skillshare.
SketchUp is an advanced software which truly unleashes the total creativity of those with a design bent of mind. The above answers some of the frequently asked questions surrounding this software.