published in SketchUpDate, the SketchUp newsletter
ARC 481c Communicating Design Data · PART 1
During the spring semester of 2004, I taught a mixed graduate and undergraduate
course at the University of Arizona College of Architecture.
The course subject was digital design exploration and visualization, and
included two main areas of focus:
Software topics: SketchUp, 3DSmax/viz, Maya, and
immersive online walk-through simulation.
Digital fabrication: Laser cutter, fused deposition
modelers, and powder-based rapid 3D prototyping.
The first course module was essentially "SketchUp Immersion 101."
Using the Continuing Education courses offered by the @Last training team
as a base, I expanded the content by including more detailed information
and new lectures. We started out with small drawing exercises, and over
several sessions worked up to a small building model:
Beginning student exercises
I owe many thanks to Diego Matho and Paul Moore, both of whom have been
teaching SketchUp at the BAC (Boston Architectural Center) for several
semesters. They permitted me to use a few of the exercises they've developed,
such as the example shown above.
One of the challenges many users face when first learning SketchUp or other 3D software is
understanding how lines and faces work together. It's a novel approach
in many respects, and it takes a bit of time and practice to figure everything
out. But perhaps harder still is to get to the point where you can really
loosen up and work "sketchy". It's just so easy to get lost
in the details, whether it's remembering how to do something (clicking
here and then clicking that), or what to do in the first place. (i.e.
Spending too much time modeling a small or unnoticeable aspect of the
model, leaving no time to finish.)
"One SketchUp to go, please…"
The main thing I wanted to accomplish for the first module was to help
my students achieve a freedom of work-flow that allows them to be more
creative with SketchUp and 3D in general. I also wanted them to practice capturing the overall
character and proportions of a building within a short time-frame without
worrying too much about dimensions, almost like one would during a creative
design session. Since architecture students at the U of A are required
to have laptops, I thought it would be a natural step to venture out of
the computer lab and into the bitter cold of Tucson winter for a fresh
air digital sketching session:
SketchUp on the go. Just kidding about the bitter cold
Overall, the session was successful, but I did learn a couple of important
lessons: (1) Students can't afford to buy new laptop batteries. (2) Apparently,
after four years, a laptop battery's charge-holding capacity is pretty
much nil… Back to the computer lab we went.