Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sketchup vs 123D Design

Let me say from the start that this is not a fair comparison.  When you start using anything, you have a lot to learn.  I started with SketchUp, found it (and me) lacking, and decided to explore 123D Design.

Criterion #1--free. Both qualify.  Why these two?  SketchUp is well-known, and 123D Design is used by the guys on +Adafruit Industries 3D Hangouts (+Noe Ruiz an +Pedro Ruiz). 

I bought a generator this Spring (Harbor Freight, 7000W) and decided to build a house for it.  Since I needed plans, and since I am threatening to buy a 3D printer, I decide to use the opportunity to learn a design tool for 3D models.  I started with SketchUp.  There are some very good tutorials, but my complete ignorance really got in the way. I was able to create a model, and then a beeter one once I figured out that I messed up by leaving stuff around and inadvertently combining sections. Here's the second try:

This was good enough to build the house, but there was enough stuff that was wrong and/or didn't fit to make me want to try something else, so I went to 123D Design.

123D Design documentation is awful. There are a few tutorials, but they're short and basic. Using what I'd learned from SketchUp I was able to start. I needed the tutorials, because there are enough differences to require that. Once I got started, I went to one of +Noe Ruiz's "Layer By Layer" videos on the adafruit blog. I learned enough technique to be able to use the tool. Here's what I wound up with:

I made some more design decisions in the process, but I like this much better.

The moral of the story may be to keep working at it, but I think I'm going to stick with 123D Design. As I said, it's not a valid tool-to-tool comparison becuase I was learning through the whole thing, but I thing 123D has a better interface, even if it is undocumented.  With +Noe Ruiz 's help, I'll master it (or at least get good enough).