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Thread: Designing a sign with SketchUp

  1. #1
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    Default Designing a sign with SketchUp

    Hey all, I thought I'd share this latest project I did:

    https://youtu.be/M4ZZx3ukK2Q

    It's a basic 3D carved sign I did on expanded PVC.

    I designed it in SketchUp and imported it into Aspire using my Fabber plugin.

    Interested to hear your thoughts on the workflow!

  2. #2
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    Hello Eric. I have never used SketchUp. But since you have Aspire, why didn't you just design the sign in Aspire? Aspire is a great design tool, and from what I saw in your video, SketchUp looks to be a step backwards for designing signs. Am I missing something? Thanks, Chuck
    Chuck Keysor (circa 1956)
    PRT Alpha 60" x 144" (circa 2004)
    Columbo 5HP spindle
    Aspire 9.0, Rhino 5

  3. #3
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    What I didn't show in the video was the other stuff that you can do in SketchUp. This sign had to go through a permitting process so I was able to quickly show the sign placed in Google Maps in 3D so everyone could understand what it would look like. Also the client was worried about what the sign would look like at an angle, and that's something you cannot do in Aspire easily. SketchUp allows for working in 3D without creating any toolpaths.

    While we didn't do stacked text on this sign, it's really easy to do in SketchUp: https://youtu.be/h4WgAt3CZq0 Something that requires many steps in Aspire.

    You're right though, for a lot of sign work Aspire is all you need. Where SketchUp/Fabber come in really well is multi-part 3D stuff like cabinets, furniture and other complex assemblies. With the same workflow you could flatten an export an entire kitchen from 3D to 2D in about 2 minutes, and have all of your toolpaths built for you automatically too.
    Last edited by EricSchimel; 09-04-2019 at 07:58 AM.

  4. #4
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    Thanks Eric. I had partially assumed Sketch-up was used because you know how to use it. And I did have the general understanding that Sketch-up is a very powerful general tool.

    But it is of note, that Aspire does allow you to look at a model from any angle, and that is very easy to do.

    As to work flow, since we tend to use what we know, I would have modeled in Aspire, and then used Photoshop to place the 3d model into the real world view.

    Lastly, not as a criticism, especially since I don't know any of the details of what SketchUp can do,,,,,,,, If I were to take my total understanding of SketchUp based upon the sign that you made, it would lead me to believe that Sketch-up's "organic" design strengths are very limited, as the sign looks so very blocky and chunky. Perhaps that is what you wanted, and maybe that is what you would have designed had you been a master of Aspire. But my guess is had you known Aspire and used it, the end result would have been more "organic" in its feeling.

    Thanks for sharing, Chuck
    Chuck Keysor (circa 1956)
    PRT Alpha 60" x 144" (circa 2004)
    Columbo 5HP spindle
    Aspire 9.0, Rhino 5

  5. #5
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    I know you can place signs and such with Photo shop, but the "placing an object in the real world" is just a button in SketchUp, really fast to do, plus you don't need to buy Photoshop! But that's a pretty narrow use case...

    SketchUp has a good set of organic modeling tools built in, they're called "The Sandbox Tools"

    https://help.sketchup.com/en/sketchu...rounded-shapes

    With some third party plugins you can really take it to the next level:

    https://youtu.be/8JODF8n2nRk

    https://youtu.be/Ia5DzKIPhKc

    All of those 3D models exported as STLs and machined in Aspire.

    That sign was pretty basic as that's what the client wanted, so that's what I did

    Most of the stuff that I do is assemblies, and even drawing a cabinet that's reasonably simple is something I find personally frustrating in Aspire. With everything in 2D, and not linked together it's hard to see what something will look like fully assembled, and it's easy to make mistakes. If I'm designing a cabinet, table, chair, or a booth drawing it in 3D keeps you honest, you can always see how things are going together. Plus, it's a far better way to show stuff to clients.

    The only time I use Aspire exclusively is for really simple stuff like rectangles, circles, and that sort of thing.

  6. #6
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    Thanks Eric for the added links to SketchUp videos. The sandbox tools appeared to be interesting, but from the short videos, it mostly looked like everything was geometrically based, and then just smoothed over or distorted. That is very different than modeling in Aspire. The topography tools seemed interesting too, but everything was very faceted.

    If you ever need something that looks really organic, I'd still think Aspire is a great way to get there, since you have it. However, SketchUp looks pretty powerful, and if you know how to use it and can get done what you need, you can't ask for more! Thanks, Chuck
    Chuck Keysor (circa 1956)
    PRT Alpha 60" x 144" (circa 2004)
    Columbo 5HP spindle
    Aspire 9.0, Rhino 5

  7. #7
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    That's an incorrect interpretation of how it works Chuck, the faceted stuff is just there for easy control points, measuring, etc. Once you smooth it out you get some nice smooth geometry.

    Aspire does the same sort of smoothing in nearly the same way. The files created in Aspire are in reality chunky (they voxelize everything, think of something like a 3D pixel) then the resulting toolpath is "smoothed" over that.

    For my money, I'd rather own SketchUp and VCarve. I can do more modeling in SketchUp and just import my finished STL into VCarve. Plus, I have something like SketchUp to sell jobs with.

    Anyway, we all use our tools differently. Glad you were able to check out another workflow.

    IMG_20160307_132814.jpg

    This is a model I did a few years ago. It's a 4x8 scale model of every building in downtown DC. We used SketchUp to collaboratively source and model every building that is downtown. I combined it into several STL files, then brought them into Aspire and used it to create the toolpaths.

  8. #8
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    Wow, that model of DC is amazing! Are some of the buildings cut out/modeled separately and attached to the base board, or are they all that way?
    Chuck Keysor (circa 1956)
    PRT Alpha 60" x 144" (circa 2004)
    Columbo 5HP spindle
    Aspire 9.0, Rhino 5

  9. #9
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    Eric, that model is great and I'm digging that table you have the model on. We are setting up a new to us non-blue CNC at work and I need to build an off-load table for it. I think I'll try to do something like that.

  10. #10
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    That table underneath it is a hack of an AtFab design. I made it parametric in Fusion a while back so that you can punch in whatever height you want and it'll build you a 3D model that you can machine. When I build more of those tables I'm going to make the legs 4x4s...

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