SketchUp in Theatre Design

This semester, I’ve had a chance to work more closely with 3D partSet designed in "Introduction to Theatre Design" modeling tools, as I’ve been assisting Eric Barratta’s Introduction to Theater Design class. Although I am well-versed with tools such as SolidWorks and PTC Creo, which allow you to control fine    details in manufacturing drawings, I find that building larger systems often present limitations and make evident the various complexities of part-modeling software and above all are way too time consuming.

As I wrote about last semester, we’ve had much demand for trainings on SketchUp as 3D modeling becomes more popular in various disciplines. 3D printing facilities around the campus added further fascination to learn 3D modeling software among patrons; being relatively easy to learn and free, SketchUp comes in really handy.

I possess a fairly good ability to visualize the process of 3D modeling; however, with SketchUpstage, I realized that this is not a prerequisite to build complex models. SketchUp has an intuitive interface and needed options to start with, so one is not overwhelmed by possibilities. You can build almost anything from complex architecture to home furniture, photorealistic rendering to real-time animation, and development drawing to 3D printable objects. It took me hardly 15 – 20 min to sketch the figure on the right in SketchUp even as a first time user, which could haven been hours if using any other standard software.

Because I have had to teach others how to use SketchUp, I’ve been able to reflect on my own learning process with this program. This spring, I had the opportunity to teach SketchUp in the Introduction to Theatre Design, which has been a very pleasurable experience. SketchUp sessions started with understanding the interface and designing a simple stage, doghouse and birdhouse so every one gets the hang of the software and understands the various design tools available. With introductory sessions, students were able to produce a wonderful body of work on their own as shown below.

Th130_Model1-peoplehouse TH130_model1_peoplehouse4 

Both instructors Eric Barrata and Catherine Johnson have been amazing mentors. I appreciate their patience in telling me the necessary steps needed to cover in each session. I am a stage enthusiast and often find myself reading more of the class material on stage design instead of my own course materials. I am thrilled by the invitation to see a live performance at  the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and am excited to attend.

The SketchUp interface might look simple and elementary but is often used professionally in set designs. Andy Walmsley is an Emmy award-winning set and production designer whose work has appeared in television, Broadway, Las Vegas, and beyond. He uses SketchUp Pro extensively in his design work as he shared in SketchUp Blog. SketchUP’s Extension warehouse has a plethora of plugins on wood working, lighting design, interior design, architecture, 3D printing, for almost everything you possibly can design. SketchUp’s 3D Ware house is another tool to add prop in your design. It has a collection of 3D designs which could be imported directly into your design.

At present, I use SketchUp extensively for creating scenario / environments for my products instead of Photoshopping web resources, as I have control over every aspect of my design. The more I play with SkechUp, the more I like it – after all, design is really fun!

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