Architectural Design with SketchUp: Component-Based Modeling, Plugins, Rendering, and Scripting
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More About This Title Architectural Design with SketchUp: Component-Based Modeling, Plugins, Rendering, and Scripting


“… the book is wonderfully illustrated with full color and descriptive images that complement each tutorial or exercise. Alex’s teaching background really rings through as every item is nicely structured and very informative.  Overall Alex’s  book is a winner. Well structured, illustrated and most of all easy to read and understand. While the overall theme is based in architecture, the techniques can be applied to any discipline and the wide range of topics covered are excellently delivered.”

-Richard O’Brien, CatchUp Editor, the official SketchUcation newsletter

The one-stop guide to SketchUp for architects, designers, and builders

SketchUp is the tool of choice for architects, interior designers, and construction professionals. Though the basics are simple to understand, getting the most out of it requires deeper instruction and guidance. Architectural Design with Google SketchUp uses easy-to-understand tutorials to describe both common and advanced process, illustrated throughout with full-color renderings.

Handy sidebars throughout the book cover fundamentals and background informationEnd-of-chapter exercises help readers master new skills and techniquesA robust companion website includes helpful videos, sample files, and plug-ins


ALEXANDER C. SCHREYER is a Lecturer in the Building and Construction Technology program and the Architecture + Design program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He teaches AEC CAD/BIM modeling and visualization, courses in materials and methods of construction, and structural design of wood. He is currently an active member of the SketchUp beta-testing team, and owns the popular blog


Acknowledgments ix

Chapter 1: Introduction 1

About This Book 1

3D for All 5

How Does SketchUp Fit into the Designer’s Toolbox? 6

Windows or Mac, Free or Pro? 7

How This Book Works 9

Let’s Go! 10

Chapter 2: A SketchUp Refresher 11

Let’s Get Started! 11

Interface and Program Setup 12

Adjusting Preferences 15

Working with Templates 17

Setting Units and Fonts 18

Adding Components 20

Views 20

Completed Template 21

SketchUp’s Tool Set 22

Navigating the 3D Model 22

Accurate Modeling 24

Groups and Components 29

Applying Materials 39

Other Tools 43

SketchUp Best Practices 45

Chapter 3: Using SketchUp to Inform Your Designs 48

Group- and Component-Based Modeling 48

Effective Use of Groups and Components 49

Modeling with Manufacture in Mind 54

Using Dynamic Components to Your Advantage 63

Where Does SketchUp Fit into the BIM Workflow? 71

Geo-Based Modeling 77

Chapter 4: Using Plugins Effectively 80

What Does a Plugin Do? 80

Getting Plugins 81

Installing Plugins 82

Uninstalling and Organizing Plugins 84

Plugin Overview 85

Plugins for General Modeling 86

Plugins for Architectural Modeling 99

Plugins for Digital Fabrication 103

Plugins for Data Integration and Exchange 114

Plugins for Animation and Presentation 116

Plugins for Analysis 120

Chapter 5: Rendering in SketchUp 129

Let’s Get Visual! 129

What Is Already in SketchUp? 129

Overview of Rendering Methods 135

What Is Photorealistic Rendering? 136

Rendering Techniques 141

Rendering Software 141

Set up Kerkythea and Create a Rendering 145

Setting Up Rendering Components 155

Modeling 155

Environment 160

Lighting 168

Materials 186

Objects 206

Rendering Tips 223

Making Renderings Presentable 224

Combining SketchUp Output and Rendered Output in Photoshop 225

Other Methods 227

Chapter 6: Creating Geometry Using Ruby Scripting 229

Why Computational Geometry? 229

Setting Up Your Computer 231

Installing the Ruby Code Editor Plugin 233

Other Options: More Plugins and External Editors 235

Intro to Ruby and the SketchUp API 235

How Does Ruby Work? 236

What’s in SketchUp’s Ruby API? 241

Links to Further Reading 244

Creating Geometry with Ruby 245

Lots of Boxes 246

Lots of Boxes with Color 248

Creating a Small City 250

Randomizing Extrusions 251

Using Formulas for Patterned Panels 252

Plotting Data from Text Files 254

Saving Vertices to a Text File 257

Transformations Change Things Up 258

Lots of Boxes Using Components 260

Building a Curved Wall 261

Placing Components on Faces 262

Randomizing Everything 265

Attracted to Attractors 266

Coloring Faces by Proximity 267

Scaling Objects by Proximity 269

Solar-Responsive Design 271

What Else Is Possible with This? 273

Some Pitfalls and Things to Watch Out For 274


Appendix A: SketchUp Quick Reference Cards 275

Appendix B: Ruby Class and Method Reference 280

Appendix C: SketchUp API Class and Method Reference 282

Appendix D: Creating Your Own Plugins 291

RBZ Plugin File Structure 291

Plugin Template Structure 291

Appendix E: Dynamic Component Function Reference 294

Index 297


"I recommend this book without hesitation to anyone who really wants to be able to make SketchUp do everything it's capable of doing. It's clearly written, well-illustrated and comprehensive."
Aidan Chopra, SketchUp Evangelist, author of SketchUp for Dummies