I’ve been working on a hazard and vulnerability assessment for a school project, and wanted to provide a visual representation of a simple building. I could have used Visio, but I decided to take the opportunity this weekend to get to know Google Sketchup 8. I’m certainly no graphic artist, but I’ve had Sketchup on my PC for a while now (it’s free!), but the few times I tried to use it, found it a little incomprehensible. This time, I broke down and started watching the Sketchup tutorial videos on YouTube (naturally!). I watched all the new user tutorial videos (4 of them) and one specific to floor plans.
I think the greatest difference is that Sketchup is focused on 3D design, and the tools are based around working with edges and surfaces, and that knowledge allowed me to get the work done. The most frustrating thing that I struggled with was that edges and surfaces could interact in strange ways, so you could try to add a lintel across a doorway and windup filling the interior space of the room! I still wound up importing the image into Visio to apply labels to the diagram, and I am fairly happy with the result, it’s no AutoCAD, but I think it conveys the information. There may have been a way to do this in Sketchup, but I didn’t get that far into the tutorials, and to be honest, it was a lot of time spent on a very small part of the project. When I wanted to diagram an external area on the same project, I stayed 2D and used Visio.