3D Modeling With Google

Posted Thursday, June 12, 2008 10:28 PM by Nathan Zaugg

Those who know me will tell you that Microsoft might as well just put me on payroll because I talk about their new products all day long.  I have even characterized myself as an "Unofficial, Unpaid, Microsoft Solutions Evangelist".  Having said that, I know what's good and bad about the products I love so much.  I also know when someone else has something worth taking a look at. 

Google Defined

Google: very successful Internet advertising company seeking to find, buy, and evolve technology that has promise and then figure out a way to turn a profit on the new technology. 

And they are very good at what they do.  When Google purchased KeyHole (Google Earth) everyone started scratching their heads and wondered why!  I may not understand exactly how but I am almost positive that they have turned a profit on it. 

Well, here is another interesting gem.  Google SketchUp is a armature 3D modeling tool.  It's easy to pick up and has some pretty cool features.  I created the sketch below of my back yard (or at least how I want it to be).  There is tons of detail from the landscape brick in the back to the translucent windows.  I did the below model in less than an hour and when I started I couldn't figure out how to add dimension to my square shape or how to move it around. 


3D Sketch Yard-2

Cool Features

Some of the cool features are textures, and the 3D model community.  The textures makes these simple sketches look very life-like.  It has most of the common building materials and many basic outdoor shrubs & plant-life.  You can also capture an image from Google Earth and transpose it onto your work area.  You can even take a picture of something and mold it to your objects. 


Google 3D Model Search

I added my model to the Google search and now anyone can use my shop! 

The Not So Cool

It would be nice if there was more keyboard involvement.  I find my self switching between tools a lot and it's cumbersome.  While you can get results pretty quickly the interface is difficult to maneuver even after using it for a while.  Simple tasks like changing the size of a rectangle are complicated.  You also have an inability (or at least it seems to me for now) to make things exact.  I'd like to be able to enter the size of the rectangle and then enter the coordinates.  And although it's pretty fast for 3D modeling it does make you wait quite a while for some tasks and I think it could be a whole lot faster!  It seems to be written in Ruby and my guess is that it does not take advantage of hardware acceleration and that if it were written in a language like C++ or C# than it would be much faster!  Also, I hate the name!  CouldnÂ’t they have named it Google 3D, G-3D, or even GSketch?

All said, for a free pice of software it does help a lot in convincing my wife that a 30-35 shop will not look too big for our yard!


--Nathan Zaugg

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