Shaderlight creates a Winter Wonderland, and is now available on Mac

Back in January we told you about Shaderlight, a plug-in for Google SketchUp that helps you create photorealistic renderings from your models.

Back in November they announced the “Winter Wonderland” contest, encouraging users to to render festive image using their impressive plug-in. They recently announced the winners of the contest, all three of whom created some incredible scenes:

First Place: Luke Holdmann: Milwaukee, WI, USA


Second Place: Abedallah: Christchurch, New Zealand


Third Place: Zoungy: USA


Shaderlight is an amazing plug-in, and it’s really starting to show the power behind Google SketchUp. The only downside to Shaderlight was that it has only been available on Windows, but just a few days ago they finally released a version of the plug-in for Mac. They had promised it “sometime in March” and delivered on March 1. Impressive!

Have you tried out Shaderlight yet?

Rebuilding L’Aquila in 3D: Progress

In mid-January of this year, we returned to l’Aquila, Italy to teach a Google Building Maker workshop, in further support of the post-earthquake 3D digital reconstruction effort of the city. If you are not familiar with this Google-assisted effort, you can read all about it (or just watch the video below).

While we were there, we had the chance to meet many users that are actively working on the project, and see several of their amazing models. These models allow an “at-a-glance” look at the current situation of the city. Most of the models reproduce the city as it is now, including the damage to the various structures; they provide a precious resource to evaluate current and future reconstruction projects in the city.

Modeling Progress: On the left are geo-models that existed before the Google workshops. On the right are models currently visible in Google Earth.
SketchUp model and picture (inset) of the S. Pietro di Coppito (XIII century) after the earthquake.
SketchUp model and picture (inset) of Santa Maria del Suffragio (XVIII century) after the earthquake.

If you are interested in lending a hand, you can use Building Maker to create simple geo-models. If you’d like to dive in a little deeper, you can use SketchUp in connection with the many photos and other information on the project website.

Google SketchUp 8 For Dummies

When I first downloaded SketchUp years ago, I thought I was the coolest guy on the block because I could push/pull a square into a cube. Then I went online and saw what some other folks were modeling and realized I needed to up my game FAST. So like many folks, I turned to (my now colleague) Aidan Chopra’s Google SketchUp For Dummies book.

I learned a lot from this Dummies book, so I’m especially proud to be able to announce that the newest edition of Google SketchUp For Dummies is on bookshelves now. This new edition is fully revised and updated to cover all the tastiness we packed into SketchUp 8—both free and Pro. You can find the book online and at bricks-and-mortar bookstores.

If you’re new to SketchUp, the book is a great primer. It will teach you how to (among other things):

  • Navigate SketchUp’s user interface.
  • Build a model from scratch.
  • Create and use components.
  • View and present your models.
  • Use LayOut to create documents and presentations.

A detailed table of contents is available for download from the publisher’s website. If you’re a grizzled SU veteran or already own an older version of this book, I’d still recommend checking out the newest edition. It contains several new sections about:

  • Adding additional floor levels to your models
  • Working with solids and the Solid Tools
  • Using the revised Match Photo toolset
  • Geo-modeling with SketchUp 8 and Building Maker
  • Presenting your designs with LayOut in SketchUp Pro
  • Finding and making use of Ruby scripts

There are also two additional chapters available for free download on the website, and the book’s accompanying YouTube channel has 62 supplemental videos that walk through the many techniques and examples presented in the book.

I like to tease Aidan and say that I only read half of his book. What I don’t tell him is I read the first few chapters straight through to get me up and running, but I refer to the advanced chapters often to brush up my modeling skills! In other words, this is a great resource no matter what your level of SketchUp expertise.