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Sketchup Resources #8: Other things are out there

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Blog entry by PurpLev posted 07-17-2010 09:14 AM 3767 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Another Joinery Plugin - Presenting M&T This time around Part 8 of Sketchup Resources series Part 9: Wudworx Board Maker Plugin »

I was playing with Bonzai3D lately, and must say that the workflow and the built-in basic functionality of the app blows me away more and more. Before I used SketchUp I used Alias|Wavefront Maya (now owned by Autocad’s Autodesk) but Maya is designed for animation and film work and was seriously lacking when it comes to product design. Working with Bonzai feels like home with all the benefits of design elements plus so much more.

The only thing I’m missing in Bonzai3d are the plugins which it does not support. although most of the plugins for SU are not needed as all the functionality is already built into the app. But plugins like the Dovetails and M&T plugins would sure make things easier. Tthe higher end app from the same maker FormZ does have plugin support (I used FormZ in my past so I was curious to see what they did with Bonzai3d – and am glad I did).

The downside? $500 compared to $0 for SU (free version), so I doubt we’ll see many occasional woodworkers make the switch. This is probably aimed at the industrial designers market, and people that want the FormZ power while staying on a lower budget at the cost of the extra features that FormZ offers (at $1500).

For what it’s worth – modeling is far more intuitive and faster in Bonzai3D than SU, there is far less overhead work (no cleaning extra left over lines and stuff like that, and everything makes more sense) and I did get to do some rendering comparisons:

STRAIGHT OUT OF SKETCHUP:

BONZAI3D ’’SKETCH’’ RENDER:

BONZAI3D HIGHREZ RENDER:

This is without playing around with the rendering options. the rendering could be made photorealistic, but this does give a quick idea to the power at hand.

I’m liking this.

If anyone is interested to try it out, or check out the tutorials that show what this app can do. you can check it out here:

http://www.bonzai3d.com

beware – this one is addictive.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.



8 comments so far

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6819 posts in 3442 days


#1 posted 07-17-2010 10:20 AM

Nice job with this write up Sharon.

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2460 days


#2 posted 07-17-2010 02:19 PM

Just looking at the demo videos and reading through the docs, I think it would be a tough call to choose between the two commercial versions. Just my addendum to the comparison:

Bonzai3d has a richer set of built in drawing tools. The NURBS and the extrusion tools are a big plus. The boolean operations are also cool. The richer tool set also makes for a more complicated interface.

Sketch-up has a stronger set of presentation tools. The simplicity of its interface is also an advantage. They did a really good job on making the keyboard input of dimensions while drawing pretty seamless.

In my opinion, the rendering is a wash. There are some really good 3d party plugins and options for doing photorealistic rendering for Sketch-up. I personally like the more stylized path they took with Sketch-up.

I would probably switch to Bonzai3d if I were going to pay for the commercial version of something. I don’t have a need for the presentation tools that Sketch-up has for the professional version and I would really enjoy the extra drawing tools. It looks like they did a pretty good job with the interface even though it is much more complex.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8523 posts in 3111 days


#3 posted 07-17-2010 03:06 PM

David -

bonzai does have a richer built in drawing tools and manipulation tool such as booleans and deformation tools. this does seem like it’s making for a more complicated toolset at first, I felt the same the first time I opened Bonzai. but with v2 things are much smoother, and when you are actually working the interface is surprisingly easy and powerful to navigate to quickly get to all the tools you need.

not sure what presentation tools you refer to RE sketchup, but b3d has all the tools within SU. dimension input from the keyboard while drawing is also used in b3d just the same way, with the addition of quite simple and useful set of dynamic guide snapping and grid snapping assist.

I have tried some of the 3rd party rendering engines for SU, and they are decent. but from my experience each and every one of them made the workflow very complicated compared to b3d which uses materials, lights, and rendering process much like the rest of the modeling apps in the market.

not trying to bash SU – I love SU for what it is, but always felt “if only I had this tool and that tool”. I think SU is fantastic for being a Sketching app, and probably does not require all the additional functionality of a more robust modeling environment. but having those tools, working with solids, and being able to instantaneously render a photorealistic version for the client is a sweet treat.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2460 days


#4 posted 07-17-2010 06:51 PM

PurpLev:

On the commercial version of Sketch-up, you can prebuild documents such as standard views, cross sections, and presentation materials with Layout and Present (additional packages that come with it). They are much like document templates for Word. If you revise things within your model, all of the other documents that are associated are also updated with the revisions. It also includes bill of materials from the objects that are included in the components. If you are compiling bids, the associated costs are kept up as well. If you are doing a lot of bids and proposals, it would be a huge time saver.

Sketch-up is quite sophisticated at what it does but they are focusing on a different audience. The modeling aspect is pretty secondary and kept fairly rudimentary. They assume that people will use it and then give the Sketch-up models to CAD people to create real models from rather than it being a real full featured modeling program. Too many modeling tools are omitted.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8523 posts in 3111 days


#5 posted 07-18-2010 12:11 AM

Thanks David, I see what you mean with Layout and all. I agree with you that both apps are aimed at different audiences.

on the same note – have you seen the cross section real-time dynamic tool in b3d? it’s quite attractive. adding to that the automated area calculation, angle calc, and other dimensional tools I would be curious to see if they don’t match up with SU pro + layout. haven’t personally used layout so I can’t really say so myself.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2460 days


#6 posted 07-18-2010 03:32 AM

The videos of the tools looked pretty sweet from Bonzai3d. I hate the dimensions in Sketch-up. The rotation tools leave a lot to be desired as well. The cross section tool in Sketch-up looks cool but once I tried it out, I didn’t have that much use for it.

Apparently, there are not any new drawing capabilities in the pro version of Sketch-up other than some of the dealing with components and building your own styles. Nothing that I would really be that interested in for my own use. There is a lot of potential there from people like you making some nice plug-ins but still pretty limited without more quality plug-ins. I looked over the API docs and it looked pretty accessible but basically, you would have to re-write a huge number of the basic tools to make them more capable for real modeling. I think the main problem is they have a limited numeric model that leads to a lot of gaps and ambiguity on selecting and finding edges when working at a fine detail level.

I would probably jump over to Bonzai3d in a heartbeat if I was going to pay the $$. I am pretty much stuck in a dead end with the current version of Sketch-up now that they have killed DXF import support in the free version. I just have to click the no thanks button when it tries to get me to upgrade. I really can’t complain though since it is free. I do have some additional alternatives though since I work for a university so there is a lot of stuff that I can get the educational version. Later, I am planning on converting my little lathe (metal) to CNC and real CAD formats will pretty much be a must, so eventually I will jump ship. I won’t be buying any software for a while because if I were going to spend the $$ right now, I would go for a little metal working mill.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8523 posts in 3111 days


#7 posted 07-18-2010 03:40 AM

I completely agree with you David, both on the SU perspective (no complains – it’s free, and it does some pretty amazing stuff) and on the $$$ concern with B3D. I believe that it is a bit overpriced for what it is (the market share). Should it have been marked at $100-$200 they would have gotten a good number of converts from SU me included (and I don’t use SU Pro).

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2460 days


#8 posted 07-18-2010 03:54 AM

Actually, I think the most brilliant thing that they did for Sketch-up was the 3D warehouse. I had to come up with a layout for a new computer lab and it was wonderful to have all the scaled furnishings at my fingertips. Having all that stuff available made the job a 30 minute toss together rather than having to bang it all out from scratch with a CAD program. Much like a 3D Visio. It is great marketing for people like office furnishing companies to put their stuff out there so people spec their furnishings.

Very smart of the people with Bonzai3D to hook into the 3D warehouse and Google Earth.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

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