Three-dimensional models are essential if you're in the design field. Google SketchUp gives you the ability to easily create your own 3D models. With an easy-to-use interface and a wide swath of Help features, it's the perfect tool for beginner and intermediate designers alike.
To begin, Google SketchUp puts all of the help options in plain sight, which include video tutorials, tips and tricks, a blog, and a help center. It asks you to select a template from a long list that includes templates for architectural design, woodworking, Google Earth modeling, and basic plans. We started simple with the Beginning Training Template - Inches. The user interface is fairly basic in design, which is a good thing as some of these types of programs can be quite overwhelming. A toolbar at the top of the window includes the familiar menu options: Files, Edit, and View. There are also menu options to manage the Camera and Tools commands. A toolbox resides below with tools for creating and editing shapes, lines, and even adding building using Google Earth (you have to install the plug-in first). A helpful Instructor guided us through the setup process by creating simple lines going through each of the tools. In no time, we were creating shapes and designs, albeit very basic ones. The Tape Measure Tool let us measure our shapes, and the Eraser tool removed our mistakes.
Now, we may not be well versed in 3D design, but Google SketchUp proved simple enough for non-designers to jump right in and immediately create designs. We can't think of a better testament to its ease of use. Google SketchUp installs desktop icons without permission, but it uninstalls cleanly. We recommend this program for all people.