Design 3D buildings and landscapes

Love sketching on napkins? Take your enthusiasm for doodling to a whole new level. More intuitive than CAD and more powerful than a pencil, this 3D-design tool lets you create and modify 3D creations with ease.

This program moves beyond napkin sketching to communicating ideas in 3D. SketchUp takes what may traditionally be seen as a complicated task and adds an intuitiveness many design programs fail to achieve. On first impression, this sketch-based 3D-modeling program may look as if it has sacrificed function for simplicity, but that's not the case. Despite the extremely user-friendly interface, SketchUp offers a suite of powerful 3D drawing tools that lets you experiment and play with new designs.

All actions are carried out using two button bars, one that runs down the left side and another that sits along the top of the work space. After you simply sketch and draw edges, the application fills in the objects to create 3D geometry. SketchUp handles perspective and alignment calculations automatically, and extras let you perform a wide variety of other actions, from filling in photo textures (using Google Street View) to downloading adjacent buildings and other premade models from the 3D Warehouse. You can also import and export objects into CAD, 3D-modeling, image-editing, illustration, or animation programs (including support for COLLADA and KMZ files) for further manipulation and editing. Professional users should check out SketchUp Pro.

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