Having had previous experience with 3D modeling software, namely 3DStudio Max and breifly some Maya, I decided to try out a different program. I chose to use Google's Sketchup. This software is very sophisitaced and very powerful, and yet it presents all the concepts of 3D modeling without undue burdon on the user. I had a couple potential Southern Alberta "Landmarks" to choose from both of which are friends houses. So by popular demand (Care of a Facebook poll) I chose this house. It is affectionately known as Blair Manor. It is located here in Lethbridge not far from Downtown. Now let me explain to you my process.
One of the first features that caught my eye was the lack of the expected x,y,z coordinate system. It has been replaced by red,green and blue directions. It's easy to translate using the right hand rule. Red is x, green is y and blue is z. I like it very much after a brief period of utter frustration.
Next odd thing (for me) was the lack of real verticies. They are all intergrated into the edges and faces, but are not directly manipulateable. Coming from the realm of 3dsMax, where everything is based on vertecies, I found it quite pleasureable to not use them. And faces are implicit everywhere. When you complete a coplanar loop, it automaticly make a face for it. This allowed me to make shapes with ease.
Now onto the biggest cool feature that I used to get this project in gear. First I took about 15 photos of the house and picked out the photos with the best perspective of the whole building. Sketchup has a feature where you can match perspective of a photo and use that as a basis for building your model. To do this, you import the picture and you are given four lines ( 2 Red and 2 Green ) and an origin point. You place the origin in a location on the picture that is a good reference point, you then adjust the red and green lines along strong lines in your picture. In the picture (below) I used the bottom of the roof line and the sidewalk as reference lines. The green axis went off camera right and the red went off camera left. I used the edge of the house, where the white stucco meets the gray brick cap, as my origin. I could see that point from all my photos and thus it was a good reference point.
Before you go getting all awe-inspired by the trees in the background, those are not mine. Nor are any of the other trees or anything on the roof. They came from the components library provided. (Well actually you google for the compnents you want from within sketchup.)
That reminds me, components. I didn't actually build all the windows individually. I build all the similar windows once then did what I would call an instance-copy of them. Sketchup calls them components, and when you copy a component it does an instance-copy. So I only built 4 sets of windows, then copied and scaled them around to different places. I built a 1,2 and 3 pane glass window and the window in the brick on the bottom left, everything else is copy. It's nice. The garage doors were done in a similar manner.
My favourite part of this project was loosing track of time after I got used to the workflow of Sketchup. It is easy to do just about anything you can think of. This program does have some limitations. It is most deciededly not for professional redering. It is a tool for conception and visualization and as that it succeed quite well. I'm intrigued by the fact that you can get very precise with it, and that is has a mode for woodworkers. I may just 'prebuild' my next furniture project with sketchup before I build it in real life.
Without further due, My pictures
This house has a giant flat roof. It has been known from time to time to party on the roof. In homage to that, here are the pictures.Garage Door and Window detail