Lessons from the Studio, Part Two
Build site models with SketchUp.
By Tim Johnson and David Goldberg, ASLA
Autocad draweing by Pennterra Engineering, Inc; Sketchup model by The Vic Group
In the past few years SketchUp has become an indispensable
tool for many landscape architects. As discussed in the first article in this
series (December 2007), with the right techniques, process, and a little
practice it can be used as an effective tool for site design and visualization.
In addition to being easy to learn and use, SketchUp
provides a flexible modeling environment that can be adapted to modeling
anything from small details to a large site. With the addition of the Sandbox
Tools for terrain modeling, SketchUp became capable of modeling large sites
with landforms, making it much more useful for landscape architects. Larger sites
and 3-D terrain present some unique challenges to modeling efficiently and
effectively in SketchUp. We explain the site modeling process below and explore
techniques for overcoming those challenges.
AutoCAD to SketchUp
Although SketchUp is a great visualization tool, it canít do
everything. Fortunately it is designed to be able to exchange files with other
raster- and vector-based graphics and CAD software. Understanding the correct
process, formats, and techniques for moving files back and forth from SketchUp
to other programs is essential to getting the most out of your models. Several
ďadd-onĒ programs are available that allow you to extend SketchUpís features.
You can create a site model from scratch or from a scanned
image, but often you will begin with a site plan imported from an AutoCAD
drawing file. Using an AutoCAD drawing can save you time redrawing elements
that have already been drawn once, but it can also be very time-consuming and
frustrating if you donít follow a few basic guidelines. The first step in
modeling from an AutoCAD drawing is to simplify the drawing in AutoCAD. Purge
any unused layers and any elements that wonít be modeled such as labels, road
centerlines, underground utilities, and hatching. Layers containing elements such
as tree symbols, site furnishings, and lighting should be preserved so they can
be used to locate these elements using components in SketchUp.
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