Sketchup is a Computer Aided Design (CAD) program created by Google. Sketchup has been designed to be a fully functional CAD program that combines a wonderful ease of use with a low price tag of $0. I found Google Sketchup when I was getting my military training in Pensacola FL. I just searched for freeware CAD programs and was stunned to find one backed by a company as notable as Google. I immediately downloaded it and began "sketchup-ing."
When I first started I took the introductory tutorials and then began experimenting. One of my weaknesses is that I would rather figure things out by trial and error than by just reading the instructions. This made Sketchup much more difficult for me than it had to be. It really was as easy to use as they claimed.
Don't mistake ease of use with lack of features, however. Google packed Sketchup with tons of features including easy texture application, shadow and fog control, style and backdrop settings, and integration with Google Earth. There are few features in the Pro (bought) version that are not in the free version. All the features are for various uses from simple scribbling of ideas to movie-set creation complete with scene and shot control. Google Sketchup has made a stunning program to make CAD available to virtually anyone.
You may have even noticed some of the benefits of Sketchup without even knowing it. People have used Sketchup to create plans for furniture. Sketchup has also been used in architectural renderings of future buildings, such as the freedom tower being built on ground zero, etc. Even the set of the movie "Good Night, and Good luck", directed by George Clooney, was completely designed using Sketchup. Probably one of the most viewed uses of Google Sketchup however has been its creation of the 3d Warehouse.
The 3d Warehouse is the place for all the Sketchup-ers in the world to upload their designs. It is a great way to get feedback on your ideas, and a great place to download excellent designs by others. Whirlpool has uploaded every model in their lineup for people to "try out" when using Sketchup for re-modeling ideas. As people upload quality renditions of real buildings, they are then added to the database for Google Earth. In recent editions of Google Earth, 3d Warehouse support has been added. This has made the Google Earth experience so much better. You can also add your own designs to your personal copy of Google Earth. This is great to kind of get an idea of how jealous the neighbors might get when you upgrade to a double-wide. All told, the 3d Warehouse has added a new dimension to CAD.
Simply put, Sketchup is Amazing.
After several months I created this "house," and this afternoon I downloaded the Arc de' Triomphe. If you have any desires to design a dream home, remodel your house, create a movie set, do some novel landscaping, etc., then download your copy of Sketchup. It is the ideal program for the average Joe to do any of these things and more.