This sketch-based 3D-modeling program offers a suite of powerful drawing tools that add an intuitiveness many design programs fail to achieve. On first impression, Google SketchUp may look like it 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 let you experiment and play with new designs.
Using basic shapes in 3D space for your outline, you can then extrude those shapes to make buildings, houses, or really anything. There are actually a number of methods to build models and they're all covered by an excellent tutorial when you get started. You can pick from a number of true-to-life textures to simulate wood, concrete, grass, and several others. When your model is finished, you can save and print it, or you can even see it on a real map in Google Earth. We really like how easy it is to create models using this program and recommend it to anyone from the hobbiest, for experimentation and fun, to the professional, who can use this app for preliminary concepts for larger projects.
Google SketchUp is a free, easy-to-learn 3D-modeling program with a few simple tools to let you create 3D models of houses, sheds, decks, home additions, woodworking projects, and even space ships. You can add details, textures, and glass to your models, and design with dimensional accuracy. You can place your finished models in Google Earth, share them with others by posting them to the 3D Warehouse, or print hard copies. Google SketchUp is a great way to discover if 3D modeling is right for you.
Google SketchUp is free for personal use. No registration is required.
For more information, watch a CNET video tour.