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Component Finder sidebar & Custom component toolbars for FlexPack Pro

Component Finder sidebar & Custom component toolbars for FlexPack Pro. If you’re using FlexTools’ ComponentFinder, either as the stand alone free tool or together with FlexPack Pro, this update is for you! New Component Finder sidebar and Custom component toolbars.

What’s New in Component Finder sidebar & Custom component toolbars for FlexPack Pro?

New Navigation Bar

The new navigation bar on the left makes it easy to move between open tabs.

FlexTools

You can now drag the icons up and down to change the order of the folders.

FlexPack Pro
FlexTo add new folders click on the new + button on the bottom of the sidebar.

For those of you who have the FlexPack Pro package, there is a separate icon pinned to the top of the sidebar, so now any of the default Flex components can be pulled in directly from ComponentFinder.

FlexPack Pro
Access the default FlexPack Pro components directly from Compnent Finder

To save time, users are encouraged to customise the default Flex components and then save them in a new ComponentFinder folder.  If you’d like to pull them in from a toolbar… now you can do it!  You can create customised toolbars with components of your choice! 😃👇

Custom Component Toolbars

Imagine the toolbars you could make!  Your favourite car collections, trees, planters, people, light fixtures, appliances, chairs, tables, doors, windows…  All your favourite components just one click away!

FlexPack Pro

From now on, any folder open in ComponentFinder can be turned into a toolbar by clicking on the ‘Create Toolbar’ button.

FlexPack Pro

Component toolbars can be docked anywhere on the screen (top, bottom, left, right) and will stay in place from session to session until they’re closed – just like regular Sketchup toolbars.

📌 Note:  If you’ve created a components toolbar and then made changes to the components in the original folder – the toolbar will be updated with the correct components only after restarting Sketchup.

Create/Rename/Delete Folders

You can now create, rename or delete folders on your computer without leaving SketchUp.

To create a new folder, right click on the white space inside a tab where you want to see your new folder and choose ‘Create New Folder’.

FlexPack Pro

If you want to rename or delete a folder, right click on it and choose the action.

FlexPack Pro

Make sure you’re in Nav Mode to be able to see and browse through folders.

Performance and UI Improvements

Quite a few processes were optimized making component management faster and more convenient:

  • A cleaner user interface (flat UI, refined SVG icons),
  • Improved performance speed of folder tab operations like ordering, moving tabs up/down, closing, minimizing/maximizing etc.  (The improvement should be noticeable with folders that have many components in them),
  • Faster session restoration after restarting Sketchup,
  • Better handling of missing/invalid/read-only files,
  • Component finder will no longer get stuck on the ‘Loading’ screen.

FlexTools Bug Fixes and More Improvements

Lots of fixes and improvements, among them:

  • Sorting of components has been improved to use natural item ordering (case-independent and handles numbers as human beings would expect! 🤸‍♂).
  • Fixed an issue where components were displayed in the wrong folder when the name of one folder was a prefix of another.

See the full list of improvements and bug fixes in the FlexTools Release Notes 

Want to know how to update? FlexTools have put together a handy guide to help,  See here.

Overview of FlexTools for SketchUp

Architects and 3D artists use the FlexTools platform to generate SketchUp doors, windows and other architectural elements, with exceptional levels of speed and control.

Key Features

Responsive
Scale components to fit precisely. All parameters and proportions are maintained.

Fully Parametric
Components are fully parametric, so making changes is fast and easy.  FlexTools fits perfectly into interactive design processes.

Total Customization
Every element of the components can be adjusted.  Explore new design alternatives in seconds.

Component Finder
Manage your local components library. Easily find and save the components you need.

Wall Cutter
Cut through multiple layered walls instantly with dynamic openings that re-adjust automatically – Any Sketchup component can be converted into a WallCutter!

Section Fills
Full compatibility with Sketchup 2018’s section fills.

Planview
One-click optimisation for 2D plans.

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Last chance to buy SketchUp Perpetual Licenses

Last chance to buy SketchUp Perpetual Licenses

Your last chance to buy SketchUp Perpetual Licenses

Trimble have announced a big change to how customers will be able to purchase SketchUp. As of November 4, 2020, SketchUp will no longer sell Classic Perpetual Licenses and Maintenance & Support renewal plans.

SketchUp is transitioning to subscription-based products, which offer customers a range of options including a SketchUp Pro and Studio multi-year subscriptions. 

Time to consider the SketchUp Annual Subscription

Today, and going forward, you can subscribe for one, two or three years, skip a year, renew every year — it’s up to you. Whatever you choose, you’ll always have the latest version with the newest features, receive (more) frequent product updates, and get access to technical support. To top it off, a subscription to SketchUp means you’ll never have to think about losing access, renewing, or finding that authorisation code. Easy peasy. Only the Push/Pull tool is simpler. 

SketchUp is shifting to a cloud delivery model for a few reasons. With a subscription, customers can always receive regular updates and improvements to SketchUp products, access from multiple devices at any time and enjoy simplified deployment and management as well as access to technical support. 

If you aren’t ready to stop using your Classic Perpetual License, don’t worry. You’ll be able to continue using the latest version you own. In addition, if you’d like to update your Classic Perpetual License, you can do that until November 4th, 2020

Please be advised: if you purchase an updated Classic Perpetual License or renew your Maintenance & Support license prior to November 4, 2020, you will no longer be able to upgrade and access additional features every year as you have in the past. Our advice is to consider the subscription route now rather than later and to do that you can contact us now for the most cost-effective options available to Classic Perpetual users via Email or telephone +44 (0)1223 787272


We know you probably have questions, here are answers to the top three most frequently asked and a handy guide [Link will open in a new window] for more detailed information.

  • Can I continue to use my existing perpetual licenses? Yes, you will be able to use the latest version you own for as long as you want.
  • Can I continue to use and renew my Maintenance and Support plan for my existing perpetual license? Yes, until November 4, 2020. 
  • How will I be able to purchase SketchUp products after November 4 when perpetual licenses are no longer available? Via a subscription.

With the advent of subscriptions to the SketchUp family of products, this move was inevitable. Users of Classic Perpetual licenses keen on moving across to the subscription model can give us a call or drop us a line.

Cadsoft Solutions Limited providing SketchUp Solutions for your business

Cadsoft Solutions Limited is offering discounts for upfront multi-year subscriptions for customers who don’t want to worry about renewing for three years. You’ll receive all subsequent features updates and improvements during your multi-year subscription. All Cadsoft Solutions Limited UK customers will have access to our product team for full technical support, with new customers qualifying for one-hour internet based onboarding to help get you up and running or to answer any specific SketchUp queries. Onboarding can be scheduled directly on our website once SketchUp orders have been processed.

The scheduled change to SketchUp licensing should be a smooth transition. For all Cadsoft Solutions customers affected by these changes and with questions about what this means for you and your business, our team are here to help. Please contact us and we’ll be happy to help you understand these changes along with any other product questions you may have. Email or telephone +44 (0)1223 787272

It’s important to remember, November 4, 2020, is the deadline for purchasing SketchUp perpetual licenses and maintenance and support renewals. Mark this date in your calendar!

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User-friendly updates to SketchUp Pro 2020

SketchUp Pro 2020 User Friendly Updates

User-friendly updates to SketchUp Pro 2020 have landed! SketchUp have polished up a few features that will keep your workflow humming along smoothly! 

Freshening up SketchUp Pro

Scenes Panel.

Now that you’ve had some time to enjoy better toggling visibility with hidden geometry and objects, this feature just got even better. Hidden geometry and hidden objects are now split up so you can select and save them separately on a Scene-by-Scene basis. You will see a new checkbox in the Scenes panel that lets you save the visibility state of hidden objects, not just hidden geometry. This gives you better visibility control per Scene.

SketchUp Pro 2020

Section Planes & Scenes.

In the new version of SketchUp, you can save Section Plane visibility in every Scene.  Since Section Planes are grouped with objects, we want to make sure they behave like objects. What’s the value here? Before this change, only top-level visibility could be saved per Scene. Again, more control in your Scenes — and consistency across functionality. 

SketchUp Pro 2020

Hidden objects are now editable.

Editing invisible things might sound like a superpower, but it’s really just a great new feature in SketchUp Pro. When you select a hidden object in Outliner, it will now appear as a mesh. This means that you can make more precise edits to hidden objects with ease. Check out this Quick Win to see how it’s done.

SketchUp Pro 2020

Side note: Did you notice how much faster it is to work in SketchUp when Outliner is open? SketchUp 2020.1 includes a few performance improvements to speed up your workflow that we think you’ll like.  


Improvements to Grips.

You can now cycle through ALL Grips of an object when using the Rotate tool — just like the Move tool! This provides a more instinctive modeling experience while switching in between the tools. 

SketchUp Pro 2020

Check out this Quick Win from our 2020 release to help you understand Grips. 

Empty object.

Picture this: you are working up a new table design and quickly model a lamp to make it look more realistic — but oops! —  you did it too fast and forgot to group your lamp and table separately. Now, everything is glued together, creating editing reworks and wasted time.

The solution? Now, you can create a grouped object or component by right-clicking on an empty space. No more triple-clicking to select and then group, or drawing it elsewhere just to place it where you want it. Pro tip: you can also use the ‘G‘ shortcut to create a new component and speed up your workflow. (Shortcut win!)

One last added bonus! When you create a new component from scratch, a window will immediately pop up allowing you to name it. Say hello to better model organization. 

SketchUp Pro 2020

Check out this Skill Builder to see how to use this feature in your workflow.

Performance improvements in LayOut 

This release focused on improving LayOut’s deletion and selection capabilities. Read as: they’re much faster now! 

Improved Select Tool

Make intentional — not accidental — moves with your crossing and window-selection workflows. Now, when you click-drag to create a crossing or window selection, you won’t mistakenly move anything. If you’ve encountered this, you know what we’re talking about… and you’re welcome! 

If you’re wondering, “how do I move an object now?” — just pre-select an entity and move from there. Also, selections and moves now occur when clicking on the actual object, rather than the object’s bounding box, strengthening that intentional workflow.

SketchUp Pro 2020 Improved Select Tool

Download the new version, play with the latest improvements and let us know what you think. As always, we will be there listening, responding, and getting great ideas for new updates. See you on the Axis!

All of the 2020.1 features are available to Classic license users with active Maintenance & Support, and active SketchUp Pro and SketchUp Studio subscription users.  Upgrade today to start using new features!

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Communicating design, vision and scope with SketchUp

When asked, why SketchUp, Director of Bedfordshire based Solutions4Gardens Mark Woodman’s answer was emphatic; using SketchUp drives efficiency, provides flexibility, and enables the company to communicate a vision and scope of work achieving a common understanding of a project. With a supporting cast including SU Podium and Mind.Sight.Studios’ Profile Builder, Quantifier and Bool Tools, we talked to Mark about subscriptions, plug-ins and his company’s projects and design processes.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your company Solutions4Gardens

Landscape gardening is my second career. I’m fortunate enough to have a good sized garden, so gardening and landscaping started for me as a necessity which turned into a passion, and then into a career. 

We have three small teams that work on a variety of projects from small patios to complete garden redesigns. 

Although a much over-quoted phrase, quality is really our number one motivator. If we wouldn’t be content having something in our garden, we wouldn’t be happy to deliver it to a client. That extends to the products we use, the suppliers we work with, the work we do and the people who work for us. We’re proud to have been recognised for the quality of our installations by a number of trade organisations. 

It is a huge privilege to be asked to design and build a complete space in someone’s house, but one that gives me a great sense of satisfaction.

Why SketchUp?

Initially we were looking for a piece of software that could help us with garden design. We evaluated several, but whilst some were more focused on landscaping than SketchUp, SketchUp provided a basic set of tools that (with investment) gave us the complete flexibility to do what we wanted to do.

Your company provides a huge range of professional services and this many projects must present all sorts of challenges when working with clients. Does SketchUp help you solve any of these?

We use SketchUp to help us with two main aspects of our work. The first is to help us communicate a design with clients. Some of our clients know broadly what they want to achieve with their outdoor space, and others come to us with a much more open brief. For each, we are able to produce designs that enable us to communicate a vision and scope of work that helps the client visualise the outcome and for us both to achieve a common understanding of the project. 

The second significant benefit we gain from using SketchUp is purely internal. We now digitise every site survey, regardless of whether we are producing a client design. Doing so gives us three benefits. One, we have an easily readable digital version of the site survey for future reference (even allowing us to digitally measure parts of the site we perhaps didn’t capture during the actual visit).

Two, we can produce really accurate material quantity calculations, and third, we can produce detailed build plans that we can take to site or share with suppliers. The second two of these allow us to be more efficient with materials, and to collaborate with suppliers, which in turn means we are more effective when we are on site (saving the client time and money). 

Is there any specific feature or functionality that really stands out?

There are loads, but I suppose what I lean on the most is the “Object Inspector”, or perhaps more specifically the ability to compose elements within the model into a hierarchy. We use that to divide the model into many logical units, such as areas of the space (Terrace, Water Feature, etc), or build layer (Groundworks, sub base, finished surface). Using the object model we can keep all the relevant pieces of the model grouped together, work on individual pieces, or show / hide elements.

What’s your workflow look like and how do you keep it streamlined?

We start with a site survey. We measure every aspect of the existing garden, and we take lots of pictures. As quickly as possible on returning to the office, we digitise that data in SketchUp, even if we’re not planning on working on the design for a while. The sketched elements of that initial outline goes into its own group in the Object Hierarchy and is locked. We can then copy it to create the future design iterations. 

Depending on the complexity of the brief, we’ll then add additional details from the existing space which will show the garden “as is”. We then send that model to Layout, and use it to create a “Customer Brief”. This is used to play back and confirm with the client that we have understood what they want to achieve from the design project.

Depending on complexity we may create one or more lower fidelity design treatments for the client, building each as a separate set of objects and creating separate views. We then send that to Layout to share with the client. We’ll then take the chosen design, create a new file (to keep the model size manageable) and work up the final design, produce several client views / renders and send to the customer for final approval.

Once we have settled on a design, we then switch gears and work up any construction plans and quantity models based on that design, again, creating views and sending the results to Layout for use on site. We use the data from SketchUp to build our quotes (more on that below)

SketchUp Pro 2020 Solutions4Gardens

Over the years we’ve definitely gotten much more efficient at this process. Big “step ups” for us were (probably in order), making our own object / component library, material library, leveraging the object inspector / model, using Layout for output, creating our own SketchUp / Layout document templates, and finally using the Mind.Sight.Studios components.

Now an annual subscription, what are thoughts as a commercial user? 

I like the subscription model and it is what we use. The success or otherwise of the subscription model needs to be based on good service and regular, meaningful product updates. A software company that understands its users and is committed to delivering and developing the best product they can is a good candidate for a subscription service.

A software company that believes it can move an existing business based on static or legacy products, and sees the model as a cash-cow will not succeed. The model gives me the option to move products if I don’t feel as though my subscription £ is getting value.

What extensions do you use and why those particular plug-ins? 3D models of plants, cost control plug-ins, renderers?

We use the Mind.Sight.Studios plugins extensively. Most of our constructions (decking, fencing, etc) are modelled in ProfileBuilder. Before, if I needed to draw a fence line I’d need to have a set of components that I would construct into a fence. With ProfileBuilder, I just draw the fence line and it puts all the posts, rails and panels in.

We also use BoolTools, which helps us cut components into shapes, for example when modelling a terrace that isn’t an exact number of paving slabs. Finally, we use Quantifier. Once we’ve built our model we click a button and SketchUp / Quantifier will export for us all our materials, equipment and labour requirements. We can then import that into our quoting software. This last component has significantly improved our material ordering accuracy.

We have also recently moved to SUPodium for rendering. We produce renders for some of our design work to help client visualisation and to help sell the proposition. We are by no means experts at this, and so the attraction of SUPodium over our previous render engine is that it makes a “passable” image possible without a massive investment in time. I also like the fact that version 2.6 now ships with their extensive object and material library.

Are there any other extensions you have your eye on and would like to try in the future?

As a Landscape designer I’m always on the lookout for a great plant library. One gap with SketchUp is that I haven’t figured out a way to easily produce useful planting plans. When we use planting in our models the plants are “representative” of what we might plant, but mostly the plants we use are a selection of the best (least polygon intensive) ones available on the SketchUp Library.

A great plant library with a good selection of UK species, along with 2D and 3D representations would be great. I’m looking forward to trying the plant library that ships with SUPodium v2.6.

Is there a project that you’re particularly proud of? A project that just came together perfectly? 

Corny, but true, I am proud of everything we’ve done, just ask my family. They have to sit through the endless pictures. But to single something out, would be the design I’ve shared with you for this article. It’s a few years ago, so our SketchUp skills have improved and we’ve changed our presentation style, but this really captures what SketchUp does for us. We completely ripped out an existing garden and completely changed the layout.

There were challenging levels and entry / exit requirements, as well as material mixes. SketchUp allowed us to communicate and sell the design, and provided us with the accurate build and material plan. The client loves the garden, we enjoyed building it, and the end result is just as we planned it.

And finally, thanks for talking to us about your work and projects. You’ve been a valued Cadsoft Solutions Limited customer for a while and we’ve never asked the question, what brought you to us? 

We started by trying SketchUp through the “free” version along with other products. When we decided to go with SketchUp I looked for resellers, and found you guys in Cambridge. As a small business owner, I know the value of supporting similar businesses, so I reached out. I like your question, but perhaps the most interesting one for you and potential new clients is what keeps me with you when I could easily buy my renewal  licenses from a nameless website. That would be support. I know I can email or call you and you will respond, and be able to offer me sensible advice.

I appreciate you may not always be able to instantly fix issues in third party products, but you don’t dodge issues and recognise that, like any tool in our business, we rely on our software to be successful.

Thank you, Mark for a fantastic customer case study. We’re pleased that you’re happy with the service we provide and appreciate the comments. 

Customer satisfaction is important. We recognise that when you purchase software customers are making an investment, and investments require support and even an honest appraisal of the ongoing suitability of that product or application, particularly if circumstances or business focus shifts over time. 

If you’d like to learn more about Solutions4Gardens or contact them about their services and portfolio, visit their website: https://www.solutions4gardens.com/

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Interiors brought to life with SketchUp by Louise Booyens

Louise Booyens Interiors specialises in residential projects in and around Cambridge. CAD system convert now Sketchup Pro user, Louise has embraced the world’s favourite 3D modeller with open arms. Possessing an instinctive ability to see the potential of a space and creating a timeless, bespoke and comfortable look for a wide ranging clientele, Louise took some time out to talk to us about the important role SketchUp plays in her business.

Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background.

Hello, I’m Louise Booyens and from a very young age, I’ve had a passion for all things interior and an instinctive ability to see the potential of a space.

After obtaining a law degree in my native South Africa, I moved to the UK and completed a Diploma in Interior Design as well as a Diploma in Curtains and Soft Furnishings. I set up my interior design practice about a year ago after having completed a degree in Heritage Interior Design.

Where did your journey start with Sketchup?

I was taught Sketchup and Autocad during my interior design studies and, although I worked with Autocad while studying, I found Sketchup more affordable when I set up my own practice. I also found Sketchup much easier to navigate. After I made the switch, I got used to working in the program fairly quickly.

People are always interested in learning about the creative challenges faced by designers, so how does SketchUp help you solve those challenges?

One of the challenges I face as an interior designer is to get my ideas across to the client. Clients sometimes find it hard to imagine what a space will look like with the walls in a different place or the furniture moved around, so Sketchup is a fantastic tool to quickly visualise any interior space and present my ideas.

As an interior designer, it is important to be able draw floor plans quickly and accurately. Sketchup makes this easy and I love the dimension tool in Layout.

Does SketchUp help you showcase the different stages of a design? Assuming a lot of the time you’re starting with 2D technical drawings and plans, then turning these into models and presenting, have you a typical workflow?

I always start with 2D floor plans and technical drawings. These are then turned into 3D models with wall finishes, furniture accessories etc. after which it’s all sent to LayOut.

Is there a particular feature of SketchUp that you couldn’t do without? 

Probably Layout! I find it invaluable to create professional looking drawings almost instantly.

We’d have to agree with Louise. We still think LayOut is underused and undervalued. LayOut really does make it simple to take your 3D model in to a 2D space enabling you to show your client or partner that you’ve captured what you have discussed, and move the project forward with confidence. You can easily call out materials, lengths and details explaining the intricate detail of one model, and show real-world scale… all on one page.

Most used shortcuts?

I still only use a few basic shortcuts such as scale, move, tape measure, SHIFT Z Eraser, Circle.

And don’t forget these useful and frequently used custom shortcuts: M = Materials, C = Components, L= Layers.

Do you use any plug-ins or make use of pre-constructed models found in the 3D Warehouse?

At the moment I don’t use any other plug-ins., but I would definitely like to look into SU Podium for photorealistic rendering.

I do find the 3D Warehouse very useful, especially to show furniture layout in a 3D Model. It’s particularly useful if you need to make quick changes to textures, colours or other elements

Thanks, Louise. SketchUp is 3D interior design software that really does bring your ideas to life. Making the switch to SketchUp really has paid off for Louise, enabling her to create beautiful documents that get her clients excited, gaining their buy-in and winning business. Louise’s journey also illustrates how accessible SketchUp is whether your starting point is a hand sketch or a floor plan, for Louise, SketchUp just lets her get on with bringing these exquisite spaces to life.

You can learn more about Louise Booyens Interiors by visiting their website or following them on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook.

If like Louise Booyens Interiors you’re a Cadsoft Solutions customer and would like to be featured as a case study, John Quinn in our marketing team would love to hear from you. We’re particularly keen to hear from our SU Podium/WalkerRhinoceros and SketchUp customers.

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Accessing SketchUp while working remotely

Thanks to the team at Elmtec/SketchUp Uk for this helpful article on accessing SketchUp now that working from home is the norm for many of us. Here’s a quick rundown of how to access SketchUp and various extensions while working remotely. The Cadsoft Solutions Limited web store remains open as usual and our team are all working remotely but still able to provide customer support and answer any product queries via email or telephone. If we can’t pick up straight away, do leave a message and we’ll be back in touch ASAP.

SketchUp Pro

SketchUp Pro is available as Subscription, Classic, and Networked.

With a Subscription you / your ICT administrator has access to the Account Management Portal. Here you can remotely deauthorize devices, allowing you to login to your Subscription with your Trimble ID at home.

FYI: With a subscription you get Trimble Connect – a cloud storage and collaboration platform accessible via desktop, mobile, web and mixed reality devices. It allows users to share and access project information anywhere, with collaboration tools including 3D markup, task assignment and clash checking. Connect supports Autodesk, Tekla, and SketchUp file formats, plus point clouds, PDF, images, IFC, Microsoft Office files and more for collaboration across disparate teams and functions.

With a Classic License – the old-fashioned standalone license – it works slightly different. Here it is recommended to remove the license from the work computer first (Help > License > Remove License on Windows / SketchUp > License > Remove License on macOS). This will release an activation on your license and allow you to enter the license at home without any problems.

With a Networked license, you’ll need contact your ICT administrator and they can provide you with the activation codes so that you can temporarily authorise the software via your home computer.

V-Ray

With V-Ray, the licensing works in the Cloud. With the Online License Server you can also log in at home and use your V-Ray activations there! So make sure you have the login details at hand at home as well. Otherwise, ask your ICT administrator.

Enscape

Enscape has both Fixed Seats and Floating licenses. If you wish to use a Fixed Seat license on your home computer, you must deactivate the license on your work computer first. How you can do this, can be read in detail here.

If you are using a Floating variant, then the number of simultaneously active computers is equal to the number of seats you have. The floating license works via an external Enscape server, so you can also work from home with your floating license. If you have the license code at hand, you can enter it at home. Otherwise, ask your ICT administrator.

SU Podium

SU Podium only works with node locked activations of licenses. You need to deactivate at your work first, before activating at home. This is simply done via the SketchUp menu Extensions > SU Podium V2.6 Plus > License . Then click ‘deactivate’.

Don’t forget, the team at Cadsoft Solutions Limited are here to help and advise. We are always only ever a phone call or email away from solving a problem for you, so don’t worry! Remember, Trimble Connect is a powerful tool within the SketchUp ecosystem that allows you to store all of your project files and information. If you need to collaborate with your colleagues or clients, this is what it’s there to help you do.

How to access Trimble Connect from SketchUp? If you have an active SketchUp subscription, Trimble Connect is already available to you. Simply launch SketchUp Pro, and click on File > Trimble Connect to launch the cloud toolbox. 

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay connected virtually. If you have any further questions, just drop us an email: info@cadsoftsolutions.co.uk

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Designing innovative workplace interiors with 3DEA Bulgaria

Ivan Borov got the 3D bug at fourteen when he collaborated with a friend on a project using SketchUp and Google Earth. He was fascinated by SketchUp’s accessibility and technology as a whole. Whilst studying interior design in Milan, a short film submission that combined his love for graphic design, video, and photo editing won him a scholarship. 

During an internship at a large showroom in Milan, he realised colleagues were still drawing only in 2D. Keen to help transform the way they worked and improve efficiency, Borov introduced the team to the world of spatial 3D design in SketchUp.

He returned to Bulgaria in 2012 and worked at a furniture firm for four years before establishing 3DEA, a dynamic commercial interior design firm that delivers branding, and turnkey workplace interiors.

Tell us a little bit about 3DEA and the work you do.

I started 3DEA after several years of post-study work experience in Milan and Bulgaria. I had built up a network of professional contacts whilst working at a furniture company so I had a smooth transition into serving them as an interior designer. We typically work on large and small scale companies, helping to express their ethos, brand and visual identity within their interiors. We also create expo and stand design and signage. SketchUp is our Swiss Army knife that equips us to do all these tasks at different scales consistently well.

“SketchUp is our Swiss Army knife that equips us to do all these tasks at different scales consistently well.”

A key theme that runs through our projects is the combination of good design and build-ability.

We run a lean team, collaborating closely with other design professionals, particularly architectural studios, as required per project. We find that this multidisciplinary team offers greater expertise and gravitas for securing larger bids.

3DEA was a team of five for a long time until I became a father early this year. This major life event forced me to review my approach to work and to find a better balance. This meant switching from 12 – 15hr days at the office to being more selective about the projects we take on, and working healthier hours in a more flexible way. I believe that you produce better work when you have a balanced approach to life, work, and design.

SketchUp

SketchUp rendering of a workplace interior designed by 3DEA

What sets 3DEA apart from the competition? 

Our key differentiator is that we try new things. We’re comfortable learning through trial and error because it means that we might forge new paths. Making mistakes beats repeating known solutions simply because ‘that’s the way it’s been done’ over many years. This was an issue at the showroom I worked at in Milan, some of the veteran architects were still using the same workflow they’d used since they left university. It can, of course, be hard to try something new and fail, but it’s worth it in the end because that’s how innovation is born and good work is done.

SketchUp

SketchUp renderings of a workplace interior designed by 3DEA

Where did you train?

I studied Interior Design at the Instituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Milan. The first year focused on laying a foundation in traditional drafting, in-person surveys of existing spaces, and hand drawing. The curriculum then progressed from 2D to 3D where we were taught a range of 3D programs. I found that SketchUp combines all the key functionality of the separate programs which helped me to save a lot of time and struggle. To be honest, I found it hard to learn some of the more complex software and was more keen to design and deliver than be hindered by technology. I could very simply model my design in SketchUp and then using LayOut, create my 2D technical drawings. I struggled at times when my files got too heavy and suffered a few crashes just before deadlines, but I learnt how to model in a more nimble way, and I graduated successfully!

How important is it to ensure a workplace function as well as it looks?

Balancing function and design is a fundamental requirement of any design task. The current trend of ‘Instagramable’ spaces tilts the focus of many designers of my generation to trends and fashionable design. Time has proven though that the appropriateness, usability, and resilience of a design is what ensures that it stands the test of time.

“..The appropriateness, usability, and resilience of a design is what ensures that it stands the test of time.”

This applies to every kind of design; automotive design, furniture design, and architecture. I believe it is incredibly important to know what kind of material to use, and what kind of functions to integrate. Beauty is important, but in the end, it requires these other principles to be long-lasting.

How do you communicate the design decisions in your projects? 

I’m inspired by Bjark Ingels’ approach to communication. Every project he creates has a clear story and a narrative that can be explained and understood by anyone. To achieve this same sort of clarity, we work to make our proposed solution visible to the client and end-users regardless of the project’s scale. We tend to incorporate a lot of pictures, sketches, real-life models, and 3D drawings, all of which we collate in LayOut. Each project poses different problems so we’ll leverage a different mix of media.

SketchUp

Annotated floor plan of the AECO Space project. Created using a SketchUp model and generated and annotated in LayOut.

You delivered an amazing workplace for AECO Space in Sofia, Bulgaria, tell us about this project?

Our brief for AECO Space was to design and deliver a functional and creative space for their staff and presentation and training areas that could stretch to fit a different number of software trainees. We had an airy space to work with; large windows, tall ceilings and lots of light. These lovely qualities posed a challenge. Whilst great for staff, these features proved problematic for their daily work, particularly training sessions and presentations hosted in-house.


Reflecting the AECO Space brand through colour and material specification.

To create a more productive environment, we opted for blinds large enough to cover the expansive windows thereby addressing glare. This meant that we had to figure out how to securely hang the heavy blinds from the ceiling. The only catch was, we had suspended ceilings to counter the large floor-to-ceiling height! Using drawings and 3D models, we tested two visible and two hidden options. After consulting with the customer, we selected a hidden option that was then created and installed by a single contractor, saving us time and making the process much more efficient.

SketchUp

The original space was designed to house a bank so we inherited a formal granite floor that the client didn’t want. Fifteen to twenty percent of the budget had to be set aside to deliver the preferred flooring. Having a clear budget and roadmap for the entire project was essential to bringing in the project on time and within budget.

The as-built space is almost identical to your plans, how do you reach this level of accuracy during the design stage?

Delivering what we promised was easy because we employed a constructible workflow. By modelling the project with build-ability in mind, we knew that we could deliver what we proposed, down to the electrical plan and the position of appliances.


 Sectional elevation across the AECO Space office. Drawn using SketchUp Pro and compiled in LayOut.

It also meant that we could communicate the concept to the client with clarity, and deliver clear technical details to our contractors. Rendered, annotated and dimensioned drawings ensured that our tradesmen were able to install each element of the project easily. We did this with the bespoke floor tiles which had different colours and sizes, meaning that we could deliver clear drawings and ensure a smooth installation. We could also accurately calculate costs using takeoffs from our drawings and provide great guidance to our team.

SketchUp

Plan showing the floor grid, colour, and positioning of AECO Space’s coloured carpets.

Do you source real-world products to use in your proposals?

Yes, we source and specify real-world and bespoke items from a wide range of suppliers and contractors. On our project with AECO Space, we had about nineteen different contractors and subcontractors supplying fixtures, fittings, and electrics for a not-so-complex project! To get the best quality and price, and still meet deadlines, we’ve found that we need to work with the best. 

Thankfully, we have a selection of companies that we work with and trust to deliver good quality work, on time and within budget. We curate and specify products from this pool.

In addition to this, we create bespoke pieces and import unique materials like Scandanavian moss from Finland which we used to create the six-meter-long lamp used in a project with AECO Space.

What is your current workflow in SketchUp?

During site analysis, we hand-draw a plotting survey that captures measurements that may become extremely important later in the design process.

SketchUp

Scaled and annotated 2D drawings created for the AECO Space project using SketchUp Pro & LayOut.

We also take lots of photographs. Back at the studio, we transcribe key details from the hand drawings and photos into 2D drawings in SketchUp. Once all amendments are done in 2D, we create our conceptual 3D models. 

We generate images that the client can review, comment on and approve, and then we transition to technical 3D drawings and details, focusing on accuracy to ensure build-ability. Our models are data-enriched because that helps us with estimation and specification.

SketchUp

Bespoke furniture details drawn by 3DEA for the AECO Space project.

Even without creating photorealistic renderings, SketchUp helps us to get the client excited about the concept. Then we focus on fascinating the client with the finished product. 

When the client sets a tight budget, what tools do you use to estimate material and labour costs? 

We pull area and linear measurements from SketchUp’s Entity Info tab into Excel and use formulas to provide quick estimates for projects. Our models are data-enriched so that when the budget, specification or price changes, updated results can be generated very quickly.

What are your most used SketchUp extensions?
Make Faces saves me a lot of time. CleanUp³ helps us remove unnecessary elements and materials to make models lighter and easier to work with. We find Fredo Tools really useful and Round Corners is great for details because it eases the pain of manually rounding corners. I must also mention DropGC, Add Center Point (which is native to SketchUp), Fredo Corner, Material Tools and Vray for rendering.

SketchUp

Photo of the AECO Space interior. Designed by 3DEA.

Can you share the details of some of the projects that you are most proud of?

We designed a 3 x 1.4m all-in-one workstation with a metal structure for a 24/7 maritime surveillance tower which is in the Black Sea off the coast of Bulgaria. All the computers, equipment and wiring needed to be fully integrated within the metal structure. Solving the design problem was only a starting point. We needed to think through the delivery and installation logistics. Starting from a brief and one reference image shared by the client, we had six months to design, develop, and deliver the project.

SketchUp proved extremely important for figuring out if all the separate parts being made in Sofia would fit into the haulage truck before being assembled and then transported to Varna and Burgas. The desk’s home is similar to the leaning tower of Pisa and some of the pieces didn’t fit the elevator. This meant we had to simulate exactly how the desk would be positioned throughout the stairwell to eventually arrive in its final location at the top of the tower. This project was really tasking but satisfying to deliver and SketchUp was a great help from the beginning to the end of the project. 

“SketchUp was a great help from the beginning to the end of the project.”

Another project highlight for me was designing and delivering our bespoke aluminum and oak veneer lamps across three floors of a new shopping mall in Bulgaria. We collaborated with a lighting manufacturer called Prisma to create three hundred of them with dimensions ranging from 50cm x 50cm, to 6 x 4m.

SketchUp

Photo showing 6m long bespoke lamps designed by 3DEA.

Where can we find more examples of your work?

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Combining a thriving career and a passion for creativity with SketchUp.

Featured by SketchUp UK in the summer of 2018, Gintare Sidaraviciute is an award-winning Interior Architectural Designer and 3D Visualiser. Since establishing GS Interiors, Gintare’s portfolio has grown and the company now serves an expanding global client-base. In the second of our series of Cadsoft Solutions Limited customer case studies, we caught up with Gintare to see how her career and passions have combined since graduating, and any advice she could offer for those keen on breaking into this field of work.

Hello, Gintare. We first read about you via the SketchUp UK blog back in the summer of 2018. An impressive debut! First Class Honours degree, awards and the establishment of a new business….. What’s happened since?

Thank you so much! Back then it really was just the beginning of my business and getting the opportunity to be featured on the Sketchup UK Blog was an absolute highlight. Since then I have grown the business a lot. I introduced a bigger variety of different extensions in my everyday workflow which helped me to create projects faster and more efficiently to improve my renders even further. I have gained more clients and built some wonderful working relationships. I have expanded my business into creating bigger projects such as architectural, commercial and 360 renders. And had an opportunity to work on some truly amazing projects.

I am always interested in getting new challenges, new projects and growing my business even further. Going forward I have a lot of new ideas and can’t wait to see what the next year will bring me!

You’ve been a SketchUp user for a number of years now and clearly SketchUp is an indispensable part of your work. Have projects grown in complexity and size?

I just learn as I go. Every project brings new challenges and experiences and I have to learn from my mistakes and learn new ways of doing things. The projects have surely grown more in size and complexity. I started from small residential rooms and now I am able to do full commercial projects. That has improved my confidence as a Sketchup user and as a person.

Working with Sketchup is an ever growing skill that always needs improving on every step. It is always a good idea to revise and review your skills, find the most optimum ways to work on your Sketchup models that work best for you and your pace of learning

To help you achieve the best results possible, what’s your typical workflow look like now you’re a seasoned SketchUp user?

I think it is just knowing what you need to do before you even start doing. When I receive my projects I instantly know what extensions and what techniques I will be using in order to create my model with desired results. Over time I definitely improved both in speed and quality. Although I recently upgraded my PC so naturally that helped me to achieve my best results faster! 

What extensions do you use and why? The ‘Render only’ feature of Skatter for example, is really helpful in managing file size and enabling users to render masses of objects. Tell us about the tools you use and what you’re interested in trying in the future.

I do use quite a few extensions. The extensions I use most frequently are V-Ray, Round Corner, Skatter, Curviloft, Artisan, ThruPaint. They help me to achieve my finest results when working on Sketchup models. The ‘Render Only’ option in Skatter is wonderful! I am able to work fast without overcrowding my model. Skatter is especially helpful for creating exterior renders, conservatories and any house projects with large glass doors. It improved my renders a lot!

Looking ahead I am very interested in trying Laubwerk. I read some amazing reviews and I believe it would be a brilliant addition to my plugin library. I am also exploring the possibility of getting Profile Builder from Mind Sight Studios.

3D visualisation is a competitive space and you clearly enjoy the creative challenges in what you do…. The ability to produce presentation ready graphics in SketchUp and iterating in 3D must be important in pitching and winning new business?

It is very important because without iterating in 3D there hardly be any work for visualisers. Today everybody wants to see photorealistic 3D images. On the other hand 3D Visualisation can help designers in so many ways for example show their clients the finished design before the work has even begun, spot any mistakes at a very early stage, experiment with different colours and materials and many more.

The main challenge is to get into my clients head and understand exactly how he wants to see the project and transfer his ideas into a photorealistic 3D image. Always be helpful in any way I can and good communication is a key in achieving desired results. When I succeed then both me and my client are satisfied and that is what I am aiming for. This helps me to win more business and make them stay with me.

Architectural, Commercial, Residential, 360 – what intrigues you most about visualising a scene? Is it lighting, structure, exteriors, nature v man-made? How does SketchUp and your favoured plugins ensure these successful outcomes?

I do try to give my attention to every possible detail when creating the scene. But I would have to say the little things is what intrigues me the most. A simple change of wall paint colour, different furniture material or as simple as changing metal colour from gold to chrome can have such a big impact on how different the design will look.

I love how quickly I can change materials using V-ray and the wonderful feature ‘Interactive Render’ gives me results in seconds. But let’s not forget about the small décor pieces. They just make the scene come to life!

Finally, in SketchUp Stories you mentioned a quote, ‘It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together”. Fast forward to today, you’re clearly relishing what you do.

Yes thank you I would like to think so. I love my entrepreneurship-life and everything that comes with it. Being self-employed and my own boss has its rewards. However, having to run a business alone can get overwhelming and lonely at times but I am very happy that I met so many wonderful designers and people that I get to work with and having to do that from the comfort of my own home that is just a cherry on top. I love everything that I achieved already and I know that I still have a long way to go and I am very excited about the journey ahead.

What advice would you give someone embarking on studies with a view to entering this industry? 

It is a very competitive market out there but living in a digital age there are so many helpful information and resources that can be found online. Many groups with great people that are ready to help you at any step of the way and courses that can be taken to enhance your skills. And today with so many opportunities to do things remotely you can start embarking this industry in an instant. You only need to have the drive and passion to start and good things will follow.  

Is it important to you to have a good relationship with your reseller? Cadsoft Solutions Limited is here not just to sell software, but to support end users and ensure they get the best out of their investment.

Cadsoft Solutions Limited are always very helpful, understanding and very supportive. Having a good working relationship with a reseller is very important and can make your life so much easier. I value everything that Cadsoft Solutions brings and enjoy working with them.

If you’d like to learn more about Gintare’s impressive work, you can follow her on Instagram or visit her website: www.gsinteriors.co.uk

From colleges to non-profits, architecture practices to architectural visualisation companies, we’re always keen on hearing how our customers use SketchUp (or Rhino, Enscape, V-Ray or Podium you name it!). If you’re a Cadsoft Solutions customer and would like to be featured as a customer case study, drop John Quinn in our marketing team a line and we can go from there. We’re particularly keen to hear from our SU Podium/Walker and SketchUp customers.

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Showcase interior design projects with SketchUp

SketchUp Pro Subscription

In part 1 of this series, we revealed how to create winning interior design options in SketchUp. Now that you’re finished modelling, what’s next? 
We show you how to present your vision to customers and blow them away with your designs. And don’t forget to sign up to watch a live demo of this workflow in our upcoming webinar.

A SketchUp Pro subscription includes a powerful ecosystem of products to help you communicate your creations. Let’s explore!

Add custom Styles to your design

Adding your personal style is an important part of showcasing designs. StyleBuilder allows you to create customised line styles using imported digital or hand drawn strokes. Think crisp pen lines, wavy pencil marks or marks from a fat stick of graphite. Combine line styles with unique textures, colours and watermarks to inject your creative flair into models, renders and animations. 

In SketchUp, you can create and edit styles. Apply your preferred style settings with a single click.

Create stunning 2D drawings and branded presentation documents

Now that you’ve added a style, it’s time to insert the model into LayOut. When you import a 3D model, a viewport is placed on the page. Good news, the scenes you set up in your SketchUp file are ready to use in LayOut. 

Combine model views with text and 2D vector illustration to present design details, materials and design options. Many of the tools in LayOut work as they do in SketchUp. That means you can quickly get to drawing, resizing, adding details, making copies and changing styles and scale. 

Present your project in LayOut

Present your ideas with SketchUp Viewer 

Are printed drawings or a pdf the only way to showcase your work? Of course not! SketchUp Viewer for Mobile gives you the power to view and share your portfolio on iOS and Android devices. Take advantage of Augmented Reality to evaluate design options in real-world scale. Switch between scenes to showcase designs on the go while retaining your model’s style.

Model on the go with SketchUp for Web

Not all CAD tools are fully editable on the web, SketchUp is! Handy if you need to make on-the-fly changes when you’re away from your desktop computer. Let’s say you’re in a meeting at a client’s office and they want to see a project with a revised furniture layout. Open a model to SketchUp for Web directly from Trimble Connect on any web device to make the changes in real-time. Save the file to Trimble Connect for easy access back at the office. 

Create rendered images with Trimble Connect visualiser

We’ll wrap this up with something that we are very excited about. Rendering! With a SketchUp Pro Subscription, you can create simplified renders using Trimble Connect for Desktop and the brand new Trimble Connect Visualiser. Note: this feature is currently available for Windows only. 

Step into AR/VR to experience designs before they’re built

Do you have access to a VR or Mixed Reality device? If your answer is yes, you can bring 3D models to life in mixed or virtual reality. Step into a powerful new way to explore, understand, and share your work. The best part? It’s part of a SketchUp Pro Subscription.

Are you using a SketchUp Pro Perpetual license that has expired or is soon to expire? Want to get on to subscription and take advantage of all the new additional features the new plan offers? Email us info@cadsoftsolutions.co.uk and we can advise you.

Customer Case Study

Louise Booyens Interiors specialises in residential projects in and around Cambridge. CAD system convert now Sketchup Pro user, Louise has embraced the world’s favourite 3D modeller with open arms. Possessing an instinctive ability to see the potential of a space and creating a timeless, bespoke and comfortable look for a wide ranging clientele, Louise took some time out to talk to us about the important role SketchUp plays in her business. Read Louise’s SketchUp journey here.

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How to win interior design projects with SketchUp

SketchUp Pro Subscription Workflow

Pitching for a new project is one of the most exciting parts of the design process. Creativity needs to flow but deadlines are around the corner. You want to get ideas out of your head quickly and turn them into winning results that will wow your client, boss or team. 

Leverage the full power of a SketchUp Pro subscription at every stage of your creative process to deliver impactful concepts, quickly. Watch us do it live by signing up for our upcoming webinar (and keep reading for a sneak peak!) 

In Part 1 of this series, we’ll teach you how to start from scratch and create design options with ease. In Part 2, you’ll learn how to showcase those designs in their best light, leaving your audience mesmerised. The examples used are interior design focused but don’t worry, these concepts can be applied to almost any industry!

Get started with a 2D sketch, floorplan or photo in SketchUp Pro

There are a few different ways to bring your project into SketchUp right from the start. Don’t be afraid to use what you have depending on the project, whether a sketch, photograph (check out how to use Match Photo) or a 2D plan:

  1. Working from a hand-drawn sketch? Import the hand drawing as an image and start tracing with the Line tool to create a floorplan. This is an easy (and thus popular) way to bring a floorplan into SketchUp.
  1. Have a set of plans? Import a floor plan in CAD, image or PDF. Draw the outline of your project by scaling and drawing from the plan as a reference.

Bring the outline into 3D 

Once you have an outline, you’re ready to draw exterior walls. This workflow highlights how to use imported CAD geometry as your starting point

Create multiple design options using 3D Warehouse

It’s time to bring your space to life. Apply colors and textures with materials to add detail and realism to your models. Visualize your design ideas fast by importing real products from 3D Warehouse

SketchUp lets you quickly work through configurations and build upon the ones you like. Show off options for furnishings or add in various types of greenery to brighten the space and give your design some personality.

The key to showcasing and organising design options for your projects in SketchUp is use of Layers and Scenes. Layers help you organise your model, and Scenes help you present designs easily by adjusting layers, objects, styles and more! 

Save your project to Trimble Connect 

Now that you have your design options in hand, it’s time to save your project to the cloud. Trimble Connect offers you unlimited cloud storage with full version control. The best part? It’s included in a SketchUp Pro subscription

Trimble Connect

Part of a design team? 

Working together just got a little easier with Trimble Connect. Let’s say you’re working on the interior design at the same time another team member is working on the MEP design. 

You can import a reference model into SketchUp from Trimble Connect. You won’t be able to modify the model, but you can use it as context to more easily coordinate the project. This is useful when you have a team of designers working on different areas. 

Invite other people to your project, create groups with different permissions to control which files members can access. You can also utilize version control to track project history and progress.

Flying solo? 

Each time you upload a copy of your design file, Trimble Connect will keep track of the versions. Use version control to manage different iterations of your model and share those as design options with your client. Assign to-dos and quickly work through client feedback, all within Trimble Connect.

Sign up to watch a step-by-step demo of this workflow in our upcoming webinar on December 11th, 4pm UTC.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article to learn best practices for showcasing your design.