Google Sketchup vs Hand Sketching

hi all,

as i’m delving into that world of product/industrial design, everyone stresses the importance of hand sketching and communicating ideas quickly.

with sketchup able to do just that and then some, is hand sketching that vital now?

really interested to hear everyone’s thoughts.


imo hand sketching will always be the fastest way to communicate an idea… especially if you are good at it. and if you aren’t, get good at it.

Hand sketching is more important than eating. Simple as that.

quote of the day.


i guess that settles that!

eating allows hand sketching…

sketching allows eating.

Oops, I think I just ate my hand.

have anyof you guys tried google sketch up yet…what a neat app, not surprising really as its from google.

go check it out

I think google acquired sketchup, I don’t think they were affiliated with it when I first saw it in '02 or '03

at the time it seemed great for some basic configurations etc., but do not see it as an alternative to hand sketching, just another communication tool.

Isn’t sketchup more of a 3D tool, or do you actually sketch with it too?

I use Sketchbook Pro and a tablet pc… I have to say that it’s pretty nice and super easy. Although you can’t do everything EXACTLY the way you can on paper, but still it’s pretty fluid. Most sketches that people see, see Adobe anyway. I was pretty skeptical at first- came around pretty quick when I didn’t have to pull pages out to scan them in- or even how to organize them.

Sketchup is cool, but it’s still a 3D product. Most people (non Industrial Designers) aren’t capable of thinking (much less doing stuff) in 3D even in the real world let alone software.

A great example of this is Lego Digital Designer. It’s about as simple as you can make it, but it’s still harder than working with real legos in the real world. Try it!:

For Industrial Designers though, I think Sketchup is a great new tool–and the price is right!

I started using sketchup and liked it right away. Its a great way to do simple 3d renderings really quick, and I have used a few rendering programs with it that produced pretty good results with lighting, shadows and reflections. Its hard to do organic things, but there are ways. As far as sketchup vs. hand sketching, its should not be a question. You have to sketch by hand to get quick ideas across, even if its on a tablet. 3d work is a good for steps after you get a few dozen pages of ideas on good ol’ paper, and if you go into an interview and can’t sketch you may end up S.O.L. Bottom line, there is a lot of competition out there for designers, you have to be good at all mediums to get ahead, and the only way to do that is work your butt off, if you don’t like sketching you might be in wrong field, AND there is a world for 3d designers, but as far as I know, pixar does not use sketchup! good luck.

ive never tried google skethup, but from what i gather its not so much a useful tool for ID, but something for non-designers to play with. not much freedom in forms from the look of it and not production ready geometry, so no use really.

i guarantee that i could sketch in 2 minutes anything you could do in sketchup and it would communicate a lot more to anyone looking at it.

hand sketching is the #1 tool for designers. period.


I don’t think Sketcup and hand drawing are in the same category.

By the way, the good thing of Sketchup is you can communicate your idea in 360Ëšby sketching only 5 mins.

Sketchup is a great and useful tool. I use it all the time, but it’s 95% useless when it comes to something like product design. In certain fields (exhibit design, architecture, interior design) it’s an absolute lifesaver. For design where you need to communicate fluid 3d volumes, it’s useless.

It’s still only a partial substitute for hand sketching and only in certain scenarios.

However no one cares how well you use sketchup if you can’t draw.

I utilize sketchup constantly, but never when any precision is involved. We use it mostly for mocking up basic volumes for massing studies. (i.e. here are three options for the casework in the kitchen.) For instance, I can go from handsketch to model to figuring out interior spaces and sequencing in less than an hour.

the main benefit as I see it is to quickly and accurately get “inside” a complex volume. I find it to be more frustrating than effective when working with complex geometries. (see nurbs, etc)

It was originally designed for architects, and works fairly well for that type of primarily orthagnol modeling. (when google purchased it 3+ years ago a ton of CAD like features showed up)

In my opinion, sketchup is similar to any peice of software one uses;
“knowing when to stop is more important than knowing how to use the software in the first place.”

I have only used sketchup a few times but even a novice can create something useful in very little time.
Accurate multiple viewpoints of a complex envisaged space in 20 minutes? Rough models can become great underlays to draw over!

Maybe this will make me sound like a snob…not sure. But for the record, I love the technology of computer modeling and what it’s done for design, but I have to vent…

I often browse through portfolios on here to keep tabs on what everyone is “doing” at any given time and I’ve seen a growing number of portfolios full of “sketchup designs” meaning…designs dictated by the limitations within Sketchup. There will be two dozen rooms or pieces of furniture basically built from simple cylinders, plans, cubes, etc… then slapped with an obvious tiled texture map. And then if by chance a sketch accompanies it, it tends to be a very weak sketch. And these are soon-to-be graduates, or recent grads from design programs.

Is Sketchup TOO easy to pick up and learn? Thus creating a crutch for designers, and preventing them for fully exploring a concept?

I’m a product design graduate working for a retail design consultancy and we use sketchup for underlays, or Form-Z for underlays as well, or for finished computer renderings (if the client requests them). And while I find Sketchup to be highly intuitive and even fun, is there TOO much emphasis being placed on the ability to create simple computer models rather than the ability to more quickly and accurately depict a concept via hand sketch? I teach drawing/rendering classes at a local art college, and we definitely still push the development of hand skills first and foremost, with a solid foundation in computer modeling, but are other schools not? I’m curious.

Luckily, I haven’t seen too many attempts to do product design in Sketchup, and until the Bauhaus movement returns, I don’t think Sketchup will do that field much good.

In short, until computers can read our minds and create objects on screen as we think them, in my opinion, there is NO faster way to get an idea out of your mind, than by sketching it. Our brains don’t think in fillets, unions, and lofts, so I don’t understand why we should force it.

Feel free to disprove my comments, this is only an observation…