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Sketchup-ur-space Magazine - June 14

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Interview Andrew Alexander - Draftsman for an engineering consulting firm

Hello! Please share something about yourself.

I live with my wife in Mission, BC, Canada. I work as a draftsman for an engineering consulting firm that has offices across Canada and in the United States.

You have been modeling with sketchup for more than 8 years. When did you first discover sketchup and become hooked with it?

I had tried to learn other 3D programs, like the ones the professionals used in the industry. I found them not only complicated to learn, but very complicated to model with. The first time I tried SketchUp, I was able to make the type of 3D models that I wanted very quickly and easily. I was hooked from that point on.

What types of models do you generally create with sketchup and what are their applications?

SketchUp is very common in the field of architecture, for visualizations of projects and interiors. However, I am interested in using SketchUp as an object modeling tool. The first model I created was a collector's knife, and since then I have created many objects.

I also use SketchUp for work, to create visualizations of future telecom builds,as well as using it as a design tool for steel projects.

Why sketchup is very useful for 3d modeling?

It is very easy to learn, and has a small tool set to get familiar with. Just like the name, I see SketchUp as a quick sketching tool for 3D. It is so fast to model, that you can generate many quick models to test out ideas, and to use as a design tool for whatever project you are working on. You can also create very large, very complicated models as well, so it really is a program that anyone can use in any industry.

Once your model is formed, what types of finishing touches do you suggest for designers to apply on their project?

First of all, I highly recommend that certain things are done during the modeling procedure, in order to keep the model clean and easy to work with, such as using components and groups. After I create a model, I will make sure there isn't any extra geometry hiding inside the model and I clean up all erroneous linework, and of course, purge the drawing.

You had completed several projects with sketchup and among them which gave you complete satisfaction and which was most challenging. How did you utilize sketchup in those projects?

My most challenging models were the Concorde Jet and the Space Shuttle. In both of those, I had to come up with modeling techniques to properly model compound curves. This is not easy in SketchUp because SketchUp does not actually have curves, just smooth segment arcs.

Every model I make gives me satisfaction, but the two that stand out are the barbecue model, and a model I made of a wooden toy train layout. Both those models are very detailed and I spend lots of time getting things exactly the way I wanted.

What types of changes skethup brought to your workflow.

SketchUp allows you to draw first, and plan later. So in the past, where I would plan things out before modeling anything; Now I can just draw and plan as I go.

What tips do you want to provide for the budding sketchup modelers?

The best way to learn SketchUp and get better, is to pick something difficult to model. Not too difficult, so you get discouraged, but something that looks above your skill to model. Then take it slow and model it bit by bit and as you go, when you come up to a difficult section, search out techniques to get it done, and you will find you will learn faster. I find you learn better than following tutorials, because you are figuring it out for yourself, instead of just copying instructions.

What enhancement do you want to include in sketchup in near future?

To be honest, there isn't much that I would add to SketchUp, because the things that could be added (parametric modeling, true curves, etc.) would take away from the simple approach to modeling that SketchUp is so good at. I would love to see some better window management for the tool dialog boxes, and maybe improved navigation, but apart from that I wouldn't change much.

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