Monday Night Sketchup
I’m a big fan of Google Sketchup, a handy free bit of 3D modeling software. I discovered it a while back and, while I’m still not the greatest hand at making rounded shapes and realistic proportions, or indeed things that are even lined up with their surrounding objects properly, the program is a lot of fun. I recommend it to anyone interested in 3D modeling.
Luckily for those talentless hacks like myself out there, Sketchup links (as with most Google products) to Google itself, in this case in the form of a Model Warehouse, where aforementioned talentless hacks can download community-created content, including everything from simple cubes (yes, there are people out there that don’t even know how to make a simple cube in the program, and there are people out there that will be glad to make cubes for you,) to houses to fully-furnished apartment models to spaceships and entire cities.
The program is pretty user-friendly; I picked up the basics of within about three hours of downloading it. It comes in free and paid flavors, with the purchased version having extended options and a greater range of possibilities. Having said that, almost everything I’ve ever seen in the program is accessible through the free version; that’s the nice thing about Google’s products.
I was able to make a couple of posters using the software over the weekend; here’s one of them, featuring the ficititious “Rescue Group 1” from the Halo Fan-Universe.
As you can see, it’s Photoshop friendly; I was able to take screenshots of the models from Sketchup (a handy little tool built into the program) and then upload that screenshot to Photoshop, where I added in the background elements, lighting and special effects. Plus, since both models shared the same space in Sketchup, they both shared a common lighting source, which is important when dealing with multiple elements in the same image.
All in all, Sketchup is a great program, well worth the time it take to learn; if you’re interested in 3D modeling and you’re not convinced to shell out the big bucks to buy Maya and take a couple of college courses, download and play with Sketchup for an afternoon. If you haven’t ripped your hair out and burned the house down in two hours, chances are you’d love a meatier program like Maya or Lightwave 3D.
…That is, of course, if you don’t find yourself too busy recreating the entire block you live on in Sketchup for the next seven months.