Learning How People Learn SketchUp

MASW2012_0246One of the most important lessons I have learned in teaching people how to make 3D models in SketchUp is that different people learn in different ways. It’s a huge mistake for anyone involved in teaching or writing about how to do something to assume that because I have some things figured out, everyone else on the planet will be able to do things the way I do. When I first started teaching SketchUp to woodworkers, I realized that I needed to study what people struggled with. As I figured things out, I identified common hurdles and every class has been a bit smoother, every group has left better equipped. Three years ago, I published an interactive PDF book, “Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp”.

I first learned SketchUp by reading printed books, watching videos and modeling. I made a lot of mistakes and spent a lot of time seeing what happened when I pushed different buttons. Sometimes my background in drawing and AutoCAD helped, but more often than not those things held me back. My idea for the book was the reference I would have liked when I first started. There is text that explains how things work and numerous illustrations; far more detail than you can put in a video. There are also short videos every few pages that show what it looks like when the actions described in the text are demonstrated. Some things are difficult to grasp from a book, but easy to pick up from a video. The two methods presented together make learning faster and more effective.

Here is a link to a video that shows how my interactive PDF SketchUp book works.

It turned out to be a reference that you can use in the way that suits you best. You can start at the beginning and work your way through, or you can jump around to the specific things you want to learn. It’s easy to find information on a specific topic and it is all linked so one click of the mouse gets you where you need to be. If you don’t remember how to do something you haven’t done in a while, you can use the video to jog your memory or read the text for more detail. In the three years since I wrote it, I’ve learned a lot about SketchUp and about the things new users struggle with. SketchUp has changed and grown also, the version in the book is now two versions behind the software. The instruction still works, but like its author, “Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp” is showing its age.

CH_11_#053As I thought about how to update that book, I also considered guides to using SketchUp in other areas, such as kitchens and kitchen cabinets, interior design and how to teach the basics of SketchUp to anyone in any field. One of the things we now do in my SketchUp classes for woodworkers is play with blocks and simple shapes for the first day or two. That’s how we learned to put things together as kids and it establishes a solid foundation in how the software works, whatever your area may be.

What I decided to do is write a new interactive PDF book that focused on the basics. It’s called “Building Blocks of SketchUp” and the book is being designed and should be available in a few weeks. All of the images and all of the screen capture videos were made with SketchUp 2013, the latest release of the program. The software used to create the book has also been improved, and this new publication will look and behave better than the original. I’ve also recorded some new videos on Woodworking With SketchUp and those were also made using SketchUp 2013.The new “Woodworking With SketchUp” videos will also be available in the next few weeks.

When I’ve had a chance to catch my breath, I’ll be working on new interactive PDF books for woodworking and building cabinets with SketchUp. These won’t need to include the basic instruction that will be found in the “Building Blocks of SketchUp“, they will start where that book leaves off.

The first thing to learn in SketchUp is how to navigate around the model. You can’t do anything if you can’t see what you’re doing. The video below is one of 56 used in “Building Blocks of SketchUp”.

If you want to practice getting around in SketchUp, you can download the model from my collection in the 3D Warehouse


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