01 October

Sketchup Model Viewers

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Every now and then you may wish to present the 3d model that you have been working on to your  client. There are quite a lot of model viewers around that will load a Sketchup model and give you some basic controls. Which one is the best is really a matter of preference though I prefer the official Sketchup ones because they take best advantage of any scenes or styles that I might have saved inside my model.

The official Sketchup viewer is multi-platform meaning you can get a version for both Mac and PC  desktop computers, there is a tablet and phone version of the viewer that supports iOS and Android devices, and there also appears to be compatibility with the Microsoft Hololens which is a holographic augmented reality headset - though when I tried to follow the steps to purchase a viewer for the headset it lead to a dead-end on the website (love to hear if anyone has tried this).

The desktop (or laptop) version of the viewer is free to download from the Sketchup Viewer webpage which can be found at: https://www.sketchup.com/products/sketchup-viewer

It works very much like Sketchup where you can orbit, pan, zoom, walk and look around with all of the standard navigation tools in the basic toolset. You also have some control over the your display style attributes and the shadow settings, but surprisingly no control over layers. I say that this is surprising because while you have no layer control in the desktop viewer, you have layer control in the mobile device viewers.

Desktop Viewer

You have to pay for the mobile device viewers unfortunately - they are not free and will cost A$15 which is an unfortunate impasse because if you want to let a client view your model on their phone or tablet, they will have to purchase the viewer. It is not a lot of money but just a bit of a barrier to freely showing your work off to your client. The tablet viewer can display files that have been shared on the 3d Warehouse which is nice if you want to share your project with the whole world, but you can also use Dropbox or if you have a Trimble Connect account you can load up your model files using this more private method.

iPad Viewer

The tablet viewer is quite a smooth experience where you can use your finger to orbit around or pinch the screen to zoom in and out. The viewer does not display fancy linework styles like pencil or freehand look lines but will display watermarks and other rendering attributes. And like I said earlier, you have control of your layers inside the model and can turn them on and off, and as well as this, you have the tape measure tool at your disposal. It is a bit clumsy to use especially if you have fat digits but it just another feature that the tablet/phone viewer has which is not implemented in the desktop version.


iPad Viewer

If your client is resistant to loading up any additional software to their computer, you can always get them to open up a Sketchup model on the online version of Sketchup - YES! there is an online version of Sketchup. You can get to it here: https://my.sketchup.com/app  It is still very much a “beta” product but it is surprising good and feels very similar to the full program. There is a screenshot of it below where I just mucked around a bit with it.

One thing which is not ideal about using one of these Sketchup viewers is that you have to hand over your model file to your client without any type of controls to stop them from changing things or distributing your hard work to anyone else as they like. Sometimes a way to prevent your file from been copied around is to export it to your client in a less versatile file format like .KMZ or .COLLADA and there are many model viewers that support alternative filetypes that Sketchup will export and it is just a matter of doing a Google search and then trying them out to see which one meets your needs the best.

SketchfabThere are other viewers like Sketchfab allow you to save your file to an account and then send a URL or link to your client via an email where they can view your 3d model on a webpage and there is no handing over of your model files to your client. You can also use Sketchfab to view your models in virtual reality with Google Cardboard or other devices making it a good around choice though it won’t support Sketchup’s styles, layers or other settings like the native viewers published by Trimble.

Don't be afraid to try out other viewers that are available on the Apple Apps or Google Play stores. There are many free 3d model viewers and you can always give them a try and delete them if they are no good. Have fun with it!

Read 1097 times Last modified on Tuesday, 14 November 2017 07:28
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