Realistic 3D handling takes your 2D drawings into new creative territory.
A few months ago I looked at the importance of 3D handling to realistic illustration and the ways in which the major 2D drawing apps have begun to embrace the fact. There’s still a huge way to go however, so is there an alternative way of bringing your vector drawings to realistic life?
The ideal would be to simply extend your existing 2D skills into the third dimension and there’s one program that promises to do just that – SketchUp 3 from @Last Software ($475). In many ways SketchUp operates like a traditional 2D vector application with its Drawing toolbar providing the basics of rectangles, ellipses, curves, polygons and lines. As you draw, coloured dots and coloured lines keep appearing to help you align your work to the existing geometry by snapping to existing edges, midpoints, tangents and so on. Once you’ve drawn your objects you can select and group them and reposition, scale and rotate them with the tools on the Edit toolbar. This also provides the Paint tool with which you can apply flat colours and tiling bitmap textures.
So far so ordinary. Where SketchUp moves into entirely new territory is with its Views toolbar. Here it becomes apparent that so far we’ve been working in Top view looking down on our artwork from above. If we switch to the Front, Back, Left and Right views there’s not much to see as of course our artwork is completely flat. If we switch to ISO view, however we get an isometric projection which by default shows a perspectivized view just as it would look to a human observer looking at the artwork laid out flat on the ground. And using the tools on the Camera toolbar, in particular the Orbit tool, you can interactively and instantly set up this perspective view exactly as you want it.
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