Google debuts SketchUp Pro 6

Google has released an upgraded version of its pro-level 3D sketching software. SketchUp Pro 6 adds the ability to create models from photos, add watermarks and 3D text and set display styles. It also includes a series of tools for creating presentations from sketched scenes called LayOut, which is currently in beta.

The Photo Match system enables 3D models to be created from photographs in a similar way to software such as RealViz's ImageModeler. Users designate lines in a photograph that correspond to axes in SketchUp's 3D environment. SketchUp then calculates the camera position, builds the 3D scene and applies parts of the photograph as textures to the models. Multiple photographs from different angles can be combined to create multiple sides of objects.

The upgrade includes the new Styles palette, which hosts collections of display settings including Watermarks and Sketchy Effects. These can be saved and shared with other users.

Watermarks are 2D images that can be placed behind or in front of models. They can be used aesthetically to adds skies or other backgrounds to scenes -- or add notices such as 'For Review' over the top of outputted images. Controls include position, scaling, tiling, and opacity. Sketchy Effects renders lines as if they were hand-drawn.

Fog adds an atmospheric haze to a scene to set a mood or create a sense of depth - though it includes controls so that it can be used non-photorealistically for creative effects. The new 3D Text tool converts text to vector shapes or extruded 3D objects. The upgrade also include performance enhancements, according to Google.

The beta of LayOut lets users place, arrange, title and annotate SketchUp models, photos and other design elements to assemble presentation graphics and design documentation for print and screen.

Google has not released details of pricing, though it says that current owners of SketchUp Pro 5 can upgrade for free.

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