SketchUp 2017 – New Release Looks Great

inferencesSketchUp 2017 has just been released and the new version is definitely a change for the better. Almost all of the changes are “under the hood”. Much like rebuilding the engine of a car, SketchUp has reworked their “graphics pipeline”. The result is better resolution, and inferences that are much easier to see. This may not sound exciting but as someone who spends a lot of time modeling it is huge. As a teacher of SketchUp, I believe that the new version will be easier for new users to understand.

One of the challenges in learning SketchUp is adapting your hand/eye coordination to recognize what the software is telling you. The inference icons have been updated and now are much more obvious onscreen. The origin of a component now has a snap point and inference even if the origin is not on the component geometry.

One apology I’ve had to make about SketchUp is that the screen display is a bit “cartoony”. Lines can be pixelated and details can get fuzzy. That no longer is the case. These next two screen shots of a model from my book “SketchUp For Kitchen Design” show the difference between SketchUp 2016 graphics and SketchUp 2017.


Screen shot from SketchUp 2016. Notice the vertical lines between the right side of the window frame and the left side of the adjacent cabinet. Click on the image for a larger version.

This screen shot is of the same model in SketchUp 2017. Click on image for a larger version.

This screen shot is of the same model in SketchUp 2017. Click on image for a larger version.

Graphics output is also improved when you export an image or print from SketchUp. This isn’t just about appearance. I find modeling in SketchUp 2017 to be easier on the eyes, with less strain and fatigue than with the older version.

Another change is the ability to edit the axis colors. This doesn’t affect everyone, but for those with difficulty detecting the difference between red and green it is a major improvement. In the Styles window is a new style named “Color Blind Style”. This is what it looks like:

axes1Along with the new style are new settings in the Preferences window. These allow changes to be made to the axis colors, and the colors that appear when arcs are tangent to lines. The axis directions are still referred to as red, green and blue but they can now be made easily visible.

axes2Also in the Preferences window, under “Open GL” is a warning panel that lets you know if your machine’s graphics card isn’t up to speed for running SketchUp. SketchUp has improved the way it chooses the settings it uses with your graphics card. You shouldn’t need to change the settings that the program selects. If you use the X-ray face style (see this post about using X-ray) you can now adjust the degree of transparency and the quality of the display between faster and nicer.

There have also been improvements made to some of the modeling tools. The Rectangle tool can now be used in combination with the arrow keys to easily draw vertical rectangles in the red or green direction, and the Offset tool now automatically trims overlapping edges if they appear. The dialogue when changing a group to a component has also been improved.

I’ll be writing more about the features of SketchUp 2017, and incorporating these in my lesson plans for teaching SketchUp. If you’re new to SketchUp, take a look at my free SketchUp tutorials and my enhanced PDF SketchUp books “Building Blocks of SketchUp”, the “New Woodworker’s Guide to SketchUp” and “SketchUp For Kitchen Design”.


Bob Lang

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