Blender vs. SketchUp

I see that amazing things can be done with Blender that could never be done in SketchUp. But for simple architectural modeling (which is mostly what I would do) is there something better about SU? I see that many architects are using it and virtually none use Blender. Before I invest many hours in learning Blender instead of SU, I just want to make sure that I’m not missing something. Or is it that everyone else is missing something?


SU is more simplistic, it has more focused tools for more specific tasks. It’s limited, but what it does, it does well and quickly. Blender is much more versatile, and has more tools and more functions for much more complex modeling. Many of it’s tools aren’t as focused, and as a result certain things may take longer and may be harder to learn. But in the end, Blender has much more capability.

If you’re going to do something like organic modeling, don’t bother with SU.

When i’m designing Vehicles or Environments, sketchup is great for mock-ups.

These ‘3D Concepts’ are then taken into blender for full blown creation.

if you do houses - static models - that SU is the way to go.
Simply because Blender does not have any way the tools SU
has such as module libraries and placing windows on a wall while
instantly also cutting into the wall the hole for the insert.

The boolean tool in Blender is rather slow and for such things it
never worked for me.

If you need organic forms SU is not the way to go. Some people do
product sketches with SU but well I see that more as a waste of time.

SU is made for architecture and thats it.

But for rendering, scene enhancements like particles etc texturing
and rendering or animation you can export SU into mesh and import
it into Blender.

SketchUp is good for making a base architectural model.

When you want to work on it in blender you can export it as a Google Earth file. The file can be opened in Blender by renaming the file to a “.zip”, and unzipping it. Then, open Blender and go to File->Import->COLLADA 1.4, navigate to your unzipped folder, and select your “.dae” file. This creates some separate meshes, most are black outlines, which can be deleted. I would recommend texturing your model in Blender and changing the triangles into quads.

For many Architects SU is the quickest, cheapest and smoothest move into 3D.

Simple tools to learn, the required level of functionality (ie dynamic snapping, distance, angle, radius input, etc) and intuitive. Hides away the mechanics and just provides the interface. A very successful approach.

It’s helped from an architectural POV by the ability to import DXF/dwg’s as a base to go from.

3D Max et al are expensive, initially overly complex and not so intuitive as SU. But you probably know all this already.

So learn both SU & Blender, decide for yourself which aspects of both software to concentrate on to deliver the goods. As you delve deeper you’ll discover the benefits and downfalls where and/or if they exist.

With regard to rendering benefits in blender, blender won’t deliver photorealism, if that is a requirement. VRay will and is available for SU as well as blender, there was talk of a exporter for Lux Renderer as well, but SU as you know has a render style of it’s own and for many purposes is all that is needed.

If you are looking for photorealism ‘ArchiViz’ then you will struggle with Blender without VRay or possibly Yafaray. Lux as a unbiased render engine is too damn slow to do anything in way of animation or decent quality images in a workable time frame, production not hobby time frame that is.

Blender will allow you decent animation abilities combined with decent modeling abilities, as suggested maybe model initially in SU and animate in Blender.

SketchUp is a design tool,
Blender is a visualization tool.

I think if render api stuff goes well, someone will write a SketchUp -> .blend ruby script.

Nope, daft over generalisation. :slight_smile:

And you won’t get anywhere near that realism with BI without some add on or other.

SU is used to create visuals for many presentations and I’ve seen blender produce some pretty poor attempts at visualisation.

It depends on the artist and how they use a tool. :slight_smile:

How will the render api help?

the two packages could then link together so to speak.

model the terrain in blender, then switch to sketcjup and model a house then switcj back to render etc.


as much as you tell karamelo he is wrong as much are you wrong on your own.
that term it is the artist not the tool is such an overused and even wrong term.

SketchUp is also not a design tool - it is a quick 3D sketching tool for linear objects
mainly and some curves and also can be used to visualize architecture as well.
In particular SU has a realtime sun shadow option which helps exploring and
communicating architecture orientation in at a given point on the earth at a given time
during the year.

The funny thing is the demo images on the linked page don’t look very photo-real at all. Nothing that can’t be done in blender internal at least.

Couldn’t someone just export a blender model into vray and get ‘realism’ just as easily as exporting from sketchup ‘with some add on or other’?

Sketchup has some really amazing modeling tools. The way you can so easily put holes in meshes and strip away geometry with the follow-me tool would be great to have in blender, without having to pay from sketchup pro to export. (and the export script only works half the time, or less)


Holy shit!! That works!

Uncle Entity

ah VRay rns circles around BI. BI is compared to what VRay when used right can do
pretty weak - in many areas. From AA to GI to SPEED and materials.

It’s a true term, maybe overused but true, just look at the variation in what is produced with blender (the tool) on BA from different artists. The tool is the same, the results not and the way it is used somewhat artist specific take RobertT or Basse’s work as examples.

SU is as much a design tool as a sketching tool, it transfers the designers ideas from brain into a usable form to interact with, investigate and develop, tweak, redesign etc, it aides the design process.

What would you consider a design tool?

The architects practice I am employed at use SU on every architects desk for visualising, designing and interacting with a virtual building & it’s development. It’s a design tool, it’s a sketching tool, it’s a tool for interaction, why split hairs?

Nothing I said that you are commenting on is wrong, just generalised. :slight_smile:

VRay + blender work thanks to Andremi’s python export script and check any work by BbB to see VRays ability for photorealism with blender. BI is nowhere near at the moment, nor Lux, nor Indigo etc etc.

Using the Render API? Really?

I was under the impression the API was to allow an external render engine developer to write a export module for their render against blenders Render API rather than all the partly implemented export script hacks we currently have, like no particles etc currently exposed.

What you mention is more like a verse type thing?

Perhaps I have the wrong idea again.

Cekuhnen, please describe what a design tool is.

Render api will be a big step to use blender as a scene setup tool. If you think about kerkythea and indigo goes commercial, sketchup users won’t have a good free rendering solution.

Although I am a big fan of Blender, cut my 3d teeth on version 1.8 (I think), and still use it reasonably frequently, for general purpose architectural modelling, sketchup wins hands down. The ease of constructing a model is great - with no need to worry about the topology of faces or whatever when putting a window in a wall or something like that. However, sketchup is not ideal for compex curved shapes (whether organic or more formal) and groans under models with high face counts that blender will handle easily. In a work context (as an architect), I use sketchup for almost all my models but many of them (where time and fees permit) then move into blender for lighting, rendering, dealing with complex terrain, or combining multiple models together. Given enough practice (and a good graphics card - which I don’t have in this office :frowning: ) Sketchup is by no means a toy, but - like any piece of software it has its niche and its limitations. Using the two programs together as part of the process gets the best of both (along with cad and Photoshop/GIMP etc. for final editing).