Google Sketchup has taken over the world of 3D visualization through it's simple yet diversified
features which lead professionals, artists, designers, producers, and even enthusiasts to its doors
of creativity combining science and art. Starting with a line tool, you can easily combine lines to
create shapes, shapes to create forms, and forms to create space. But 3D model alone will only
show a ‘lifeless’ object, which isn’t close enough to the desired outcome: to touch the borders of
realism through visual art. You need to apply materials.
3D models are bound to be presented with ‘life’ -- with colors and textures -- with materials. As
you explore the Sketchup tabs, the ‘Materials’ can be found in the ‘Default Tray’ of the ‘Window’
tab. It is stacked up together with other trays such as ‘Entity Info’, ‘Components’, ‘Styles’, ‘Layers’,
‘Shadows’, ‘Scenes’, ‘Instructor’, ‘Soften Edges’, ‘Fog’, ‘Match Photo’ and ‘Outliner’ -- which can
also be found in the right side of the screen. A sliced square of white and gray is the icon for the
‘default material’, which is applied automatically to every 3D model created in the Sketchup
environment. You can easily change the material by choosing from the tray’s drop-down menu,
consisting of varieties which are grouped in folders systematically: ‘3d printing’, ‘Asphalt and
Concrete’, ‘Brick, Cladding and Siding’, ‘Carpets, Fabrics, Leathers, Textiles and Wallpaper’,
‘Colors’, ‘Colors-named’, ‘Glass and Mirrors’, ‘Landscaping, Fencing and Vegetation’, ‘Metal’,
‘Patterns’, ‘Roofing’, ‘Stone’, ‘Synthetic Surfaces’, ‘Tile’, ‘Water’, ‘Window Coverings’, and ‘Wood’.
By selecting them and applying them with a bucket icon to a face or a form, whether directly in
the environment or in a group, you can now give ‘life’ to your models and make them even more
Sketchup also allows you to edit or customize materials by using the dropper icon, which can be
found below the ‘Default Material’ icon. After selecting the material, just click on the ‘Edit’ tab in
the ‘Material’ tray, and you’ll find another set of options which allows you to change the
material’s solid ‘Color’, ‘Texture’ image and its dimensions, and ‘Opacity’. Experiment on those
series of choices and you’ll find them very much enjoyable.
On previous versions of Sketchup, one can also apply materials from ‘Photo Textures’ which can
also be found in the ‘Windows’ tab. These textures are actually snapshots from Google maps,
which are directly applied to the 3D object depending on the view it is placed. Unfortunately,
such feature isn’t available anymore. But still, Sketchup has a lot of features installed for you.
Just press ‘B’ and give ‘life’ to your models with your artistic skills!