SketchUp 5 from @Last software, recently acquired by Google, allows anybody to become a fairly proficient technical drawer in next to no time with its simple interface for 3-D design. While its software isn't as powerful as computer aided design (CAD software), it is a lot simpler to use.
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SketchUp 5 is as simple to use as MS Paint, yet it’s very powerful and will serve well as an initial introduction to design software, or as a supplement to users already experienced in design software, in almost any field that requires modelling.
Price$ 640.00 (AUD)
Using a 2-D interface to draw in 3-D has always been a significant challenge, but SketchUp 5 overcomes the difficulty of doing this by using inferences off already established objects or edges and "guessing" which plane you are drawing in. The patented push/pull tool also allows you to easily extend object faces.
There is a dimension annotation tool that will accurately give dimensions of all surfaces at the touch of a button. It is even able to scale your model instantly. Once your model is finished you can experiment with textures, colours and real-time shadows and then render it with a few different effects such as transparency, enhanced edges or a hand-sketched appearance.
A tour guide function allows you to set predefined walkthroughs, including cross-sectional cuts, which can be exported in .avi or .mov format. Likewise, design sketches can be exported to a vast number of other design programs, such as Autodesk's 3ds Max. The beautiful thing about SketchUp 5 is that most of its tools and expressions are intuitive, so you can literally just start drawing. @Last provides a lot of tutorial videos that are very helpful and will have somebody who has never used a 3-D design program working efficiently in a few short hours.
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