The best Sketchup alternatives in 2020
Posted By Jérôme Deschamps on May 11, 2020 |
Sketchup is a 3D CAD program, which is mostly used for architectural, interior, furniture, and landscape design. Available for the past 20 years, Sketchup has always been differentiated by its intuitive design tools and its simple workflow, which enable users to quickly take control of the program. This simplicity is complemented by the 3D warehouse, an extensive 3D model library that users can navigate to generate pre-set objects and work out their scenes quickly.
If you are wondering whether or not you should dive into this program or go for another one, there are alternatives to Sketchup you may also want to consider. Based on what you want to do, other CAD and 3D programs provide similar features and can help you achieve similar results as well. So let’s get started with 3 programs which can be Sketchup alternatives.
Developed by Autodesk, Fusion 360 is a parametric CAD Software targeted at mechanical and product design applications. The integrative approach Fusion 360 has been designed with allows companies to take ideas from concepts to functional 3D models, but also to run simulations, render objects, and fabricate them.
Even though Fusion 360 and Sketchup aren’t tailored to the same types of workflows, similar objects can be modeled using any of these. It is for instance possible to design furniture across these two CAD software, and if that’s what you are looking forward to, Fusion 360 can be an alternative to Sketchup.
Now why would you choose Fusion 360 over Sketchup? First, Fusion 360 allows you to design objects using parametric modeling. In other words, each part you are going to create will be assigned specific dimensions, which may refer to the thickness of a wall, the height of a surface, and so on. Parametric modeling, in turn, enables users to adjust dimensions by entering new values. Models will change based on the new parameters, and Fusion 360 will make sure the object remains constrained to other surrounding surfaces. The design tools that Sketchup offers, on the other hand, may not enable you to adjust parts without remaking them.
Credit: Autodesk.com, house, Rognar Lodbrock
Well known for its great versatility, Blender is an open-source 3D program that allows you to handle all types of 3D works, from modeling, rigging, animation, VFX, rendering, and so on.
Unlike CAD software, Blender was hence not primarily intended for architectural design. Yet, as a generalist 3D Software, it does present features that poise it as an interesting alternative to Sketchup.
The first reason why Blender is interesting is that it allows to create organic shapes with an intuitive surface subdivision system, and gives access to more advanced polygon editing tools for bevels, offsets, and other features. Talking about polygons, Blender handles greater amounts of them on a single scene than Sketchup can. Modeling apart, Blender opens up to better-looking visualizations than Sketchup, first because of its ability to map textures over surfaces, and also thanks to its built-in Cycles and Evee rendering engines.
Credit: Blenderartist.org, Modern House, MArtur
Touching upon Sketchup alternatives, one may argue that the ideal pick should also respond to Sketchup’s ease of accessibility. But with programs like Fusion 360 or Blender, we are definitely moving away from this simplicity.
So if you are looking for a solution that makes 3D CAD as intuitive as Sketchup, Tinkercad may be for you. Also owned by Autodesk, Tinkercad is, in contrast with Fusion 360, a browser-based tool designed to help newcomers get familiar with 3D Design. Even though Tinkercad relies on a narrow set of editing tools, Tinkercad allows you to start from pre-set polygons that can be refined into more complex, organic shapes. Hence, the balance between technical performance and intuitiveness that Tinkercad reached makes it an appropriate alternative to Sketchup, and can likewise be used to work out functional 3D designs in a matter of minutes.
Credit: Tinkercad.com, Build A Castle, kchris 262
As you may have noticed by now, the alternative to Sketchup that will tie into your needs best depends on how you conceive 3D design. The programs we went over each have their own approach and design tools. So when choosing among them, it all comes down to the degree of complexity you expect to face, as well as the nature of the project you need to address.
Note that regardless of your final choice, either of these programs works very well for 3D Printing applications. If you wish to 3D Print the future models you will achieve with these tools, you can upload them on our 3D Printing service. Do not hesitate to sign up to our Newsletter to get more Software updates.
Credit for main image : sketchupartists.org, Snoopywang