Google SketchUp 7.1 review

When Google bought SketchUp many users were puzzled: what did the internet giant want with a powerful 3D modeller? Most people’s response was more basic: who cares so long as they give it away for free?

Over the years, Google’s position has become clearer. To begin with, Google didn’t actually give the program away for free. Professional users who wanted to work up their SketchUp ideas into something a little more polished needed to buy the newly-renamed SketchUp Pro (£318 inc VAT) to be able to export and access their models in 3D. The free SketchUp was virtually identical but, crucially, restricted its users to 2D bitmap output.

There was one exception: you could output your projects as 3D models, but only for viewing in situ within Google Earth. It’s this capability that explains Google’s interest. Google needed to provide a free and easy way for end users to provide it with free content for Google Earth, and it’s this mission that’s clearly SketchUp 7.1’s focus.

The stand-out feature is the new in-built texturing of models. SketchUp already lets you map photos of actual buildings onto your models – it’s a great way of bringing simple box-like models to life. The problem is that the mapping process can be complex and you need to have the photos in the first place. Not any more.

Google SketchUp 7.1

Now you simply select a surface, right-click and select the Get Photo Texture command. SketchUp’s new Photo Textures palette opens, split into two panes: the bottom showing a Google Maps aerial view and the top showing the associated Street View. Enter an address or postcode and the panels update accordingly. Once you’ve set up your Street Map view, hit the Select Region command and a crop box appears, complete with mask overlay if your surface is non-rectangular. Move the corner pins into position and hit the Grab command and your new bitmap texture is automatically applied, complete with built-in perspective correction.

This is extraordinary power, integrating Google Maps, Street View, SketchUp and Google Earth, and essentially turning Google’s Street View imagery into a massive free image resource much as SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse does for models. However, it’s important not to get carried away. Not everywhere is covered by Street View, the imagery is of variable quality and you only ever get the frontages of buildings.


Software subcategoryGraphics/design software

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

Todays Highlights
How to See Google Search History
how to download photos from google photos