SketchUp, SketchUp Pro, Woodworking Plans in Progress
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Opacity Setting Helps Communicate Construction Method

I like Fine Woodworking magazine. When other woodworking magazines are struggling to survive, FWW seems to just keep getting better. The most recent issue is full of illustrations; very well executed illustrations. I often pay attention to how their various graphic illustrators use color to communicate construction methods. Or, better said; how they use the lack of color.

By adjusting color opacity, I can better explain joinery.

By adjusting color opacity, I can better explain joinery.

Being able to see through a component can better explain a construction step. I am not exactly sure how they do it at Fine Woodworking, but here at JBWW, I only have SketchUp to accomplish this. I do have software products like Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop, but I am not schooled on the use of these programs.

One feature I have been exploring is the paint bucket opacity setting. Making a part more transparent actually removes or tones down the color. You might think that using the x-ray view of a model would be easier, but x-ray removes most of the color from all the components in a model. I want better control and I get that by adjusting the color opacity of a part.

By adjusting color opacity, I can better explain joinery.

By adjusting color opacity, I can better explain joinery.

In the image above, I have selected a light gray color and adjusted the opacity to 50%. I then go inside the component and paint the dowel holes a solid bright red. If I used x-ray, every component would be transparent including the bright red. This extra step helps highlight the joinery needed to create while progressing through the woodworking plan. This look is also more like what you see in Fine Woodworking plans.

Here is how I am using the image in the woodworking plan.

Here is how I am using the image in the woodworking plan.

Click the image above to enlarge. It is page four of my upcoming woodworking plan. I continue to fine tune this page making minor adjustments; I am still trying to get it to a higher level of graphic design. Page five is also finished, but this will likely be at least a nine or ten page plan so I still have some work ahead of me.

While I have used SketchUp Pro and LayOut to build the woodworking plan, I am thinking that using Microsoft Publisher is the tool I’ll stick with. Publisher is better with text, has more text options and I can do more graphic intensive work with it. At least that is my view currently. I have not given up on LayOut, but I have not been able to make it do the things that Publisher can.

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