I have been working this week on my upcoming free e-book: the down loadable plans for my daughter’s bookcase. A critical tool in the preparation of this e-book and my last one is SketchUp. In addition to my e-books, I often use SketchUp illustrations to communicate a variety of things related to woodworking on my blog. It was about a year ago when I posted some of my frustration with SketchUp. I am now glad to say I am very comfortable with this impressive 3D modeling program. But, I wonder if I will ever be as good with SketchUp as those guys that write for FWW or Popular Woodworking? By the time I get too old to use a computer, will I be as deep a SU thinker as they are?
It seems that with every project I illustrate, I pick up a helpful tip or two and this bookcase drawing is no different. So, I thought I would put up a post about my challenges so far and the fixes I have implemented (and I welcome any tips as well).
I have been looking through a variety of woodworking magazines and books to better capture what is expected in a properly executed project plan. As I did this, I realized what I had drawn just didn’t measure up.
In the image above (click it to enlarge), there are a couple of things going on that need to be changed. First, the standard background on SketchUp’s woodworking template is blue. This bookcase being a khaki color actually looks good with a blue background, but I prefer white and in the past I have simply selected the plan view template which has white as a standard background. But with this template, some of the settings change which I don’t like, so while looking through my SketchUp for Dummies book, I ran across a way to change the background of any template.
On the “Window” drop down menu, select “Styles” and select “edit” in the middle of the styles pop-up box. Click the light blue background box and yet another menu pops up that enables you to adjust the RGB color settings for the background. The frustrating thing is you have to know the RGB color numbers, which I didn’t, but it wasn’t too hard to figure out. First problem solved.
I am using Microsoft Publisher to create my down loadable plans. The second problem is that as I import the photo above into Publisher, I need to enlarge it significantly so that the various parts are easily seen. This is a result of the bookcase being tall and slender. As I enlarge this image, two things happen: 1) the text becomes mildly distorted and 2) the text becomes rather large. In addition, I am not liking the labels that identify the components of the bookcase – all those lines and arrows bother me.
According to my Dummies book, I can get a possibly higher resolution image by exporting vector images vs. raster images. The only problem is that vector images are possible only with the Pro version of SketchUp which is about a $500.00 software upgrade and not something I am willing to do right now. So I am stuck with raster images which are really only an issue when I need large illustrations.
What I have decided to do at present is use SketchUp to provide the illustrations and use Publisher for text and as many of the lines as possible. I have not yet found a way for Publisher to create the lines and arrows used to provide dimensions – something that Publisher may be able to do with a little more research.
The question I have is how the magazine and book publishers do this? It seems they use software that can provide illustrations and page layout all in one.
On a side note, we woke up today to a pleasant snow; not even enough to cover the ground, but pretty to look at and no road problems at all. A good kind of snow event.