dango0 writes "SketchUp 7.1 for Architectural Visualization – Beginner's Guide is a detailed guide that will figuratively take you by the hand and teach you how to make stunning photorealistic and artistic visuals of your projects with free software and free resources that you can find all over the Internet." Read on for the rest of Dan's review.Robin de Jongh is a consulting engineer and designer who has successfully used SketchUp for multi-million-pound new developments, and a whole bunch of smaller projects, from steel staircases to new product prototypes. He previously ran an architectural and product visualization company. Robin holds a degree in Computer Aided Product Design and is a professional engineer registered with the Institution of Engineering Designers in the UK. He writes a blog about SketchUp for design professionals.
Frankly, when I saw that the book has 400+ pages, I thought "this thing is full of fluff and will bore me to death." But to my pleasant surprise I found a lot of descriptive pictures, and that's exactly what a visual-based guy like me understands best. So, without further ado, I'll make a brief presentation of the chapters that will enlighten your path to fast, easy and breathtaking presentations of your projects:
Chapter 1 – Quick Start Tutorial
This chapter is a fast forward for those impatient to get to the realistic sketchup scenes. Here you'll find out how to model the scene, fix the lights, add textures, background, and make a quick render in Kerkythea.
Chapter 2 – Plug in and Gear Up
You will find that with a couple of free plugins and some other software you can turn SketchUp into a fully functional 3D modeling, visualization and animation suite similar to . let's say 3D Max!!! (well the truth is this part made my jaw drop)
Chapter 3 – Composing the scene (free sample available)
This chapter will teach you how to make modeling a less hard work by setting your scene prior to starting work. Here you'll use CAD plans, site images or even Google Earth to build the optimized scene for quick rendering or animation. (I know you will love this part of the book, so I got a sample of this chapter from the publisher for you guys – See it Here)
Chapter 4 – Modelling for Visualization
The pro modeling methods you can learn here will save you both the time, and the hassle of working with large polygon counts that can slow down your PC considerably, and at the same time will show you how to make those photo real renderings we all love in a blink of an eye.
Chapter 5 – Applying Textures and Materials for Photo-Real Rendering
Since the world evolved really fast lately, we have at our disposal a lot of free online image resources, professional digital cameras, and so a really effective way of bringing the "model" to life. The tutorials you'll discover in this chapter will show you some unique photo and material handling tools to create surreal, mega easily textured scenes.
Chapter 6 – Entourage the SketchUp Way
Now you have a scene, with modeled buildings and applied textures, and the next step you wanna take is to make it shine with some Entourage, like cars, furniture, and of course trees and bushes and other nice things. In this chapter you'll learn how to find the best libraries, and also to create your own (that you can give to others, for FREE or CASH).
Chapter 7 – Non Photo Real with SketchUp
Some other free software that you will learn how to use is GIMP, a powerful photo editing photo suite, that can simulate sketchy pencil and watercolor styles. And yeah, almost forgot about this, you will learn the AWESOME "Dennis Technique".
Chapter 8 – Photo-realistic rendering
Some in depth presentation and step by step introduction into Kerkythea, the amazing free rendering software, with proven best settings for test renders and final outdoor and indoor scenes. This chapter amazed me, because it covers everything you need to know about getting professional photo-realistic renders out of a simple SketchUp model.
Chapter 9 – Important Compositing and After Effects in GIMP
We all know that the rendering process isn't the end of the line, because there's lots of subtle but important after effects you can apply to make the image even more effective. This particular chapter covers how to add reflections without rendering, creating depth of field effects from a depth render, adjusting levels for realistic daylight scenes, compositing real and rendered images.
Chapter 10 – Walkthroughs and Flyovers
Here you will find tutorials that will show you how to create storyboards, set up cameras and paths in SketchUp with extra plugin functionality, export test animations and final renders. Photo real animations are then composited to make a simple showreel.
Chapter 11 – Presenting Visuals in LayOut
This final chapter I really enjoyed since I like to play with layouts. The layout module is bundled as part of SketchUp Pro and is introduced in this final chapter for those who wish to explore the free trial before committing to Pro. You will learn how to bring together SketchUp models and artistic or rendered output into a screen presentation or printed portfolio, adding borders, text and dimensions.
I'm an architect, and I've worked with paid software before, but I gotta tell you, the free applications are most of the time way better than the paid ones, for the simple fact that they're made by passionate people who upgrade and tweak things all the time. If you want to learn how to use free software that delivers results time after time, please check out this book. I guarantee you won't throw your money away; the price for this book is way too low for the knowledge it shares and the results you can achieve.
You can purchase SketchUp 7.1 for Architectural Visualization: Beginner's Guide from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.