Monday, December 31, 2012

Updated desk plans

Recently I discovered and was inspired by Matthias Wandel's amazing Sketchup plans.  He sells some of the more complicated ones (and I think they are well worth the price) and offers others for free on his website.  The great part of his plans is that not only are they 3D models of the project, but by utilizing the features of Sketchup they are also excellent instructions for constructing the project.

I did a little analysis of one of his plans to try and figure out how he does it.  I found that he uses three important features of Sketchup to create his plans:

  1. Components: Componentizing pieces of a model makes it easy to organize the model but also much simpler to highlight specific parts of the model.  Matthias seems to organize components based on how things are organized in the real world.  For example, a table leg or drawer would each be a component.
  2. Scenes: In Sketchup it's easy to record a given camera viewpoint (among other properties), and this is called a scene.  Matthias' plans use scenes to hide various parts of the model and highlight individual construction or assembly steps.
  3. Layers: These are used to add text and dimensions that would clutter the model if they were all visible at once.  The hidden or visible nature of a layer can be recorded as a property of a scene.

I already knew the basics of using Sketchup but I decided to try out some of Matthias' techniques to improve an existing model that I created for the writing desk I built for my wife.  I already had a completed model, so I set out to organize the model as a series of components and add scenes and layers to illustrate the construction process.

I'm really happy with the results although it took me many hours to complete the new Sketchup model. I would like to do this for my arcade as well, though that would take far longer to complete.

I still haven't found a way to host the Sketchup file (at least not a way that I like), but in the meantime I exported a video of the various scenes from Sketchup.  The resolution doesn't really do it justice and for some reason the YouTube import cut a few frames here and there which makes the video stutter, but at least it will give you an idea of what it looks like.

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