We have many applications to choose from that allow us to create 3D models for a variety of tasks from game design to animation to 3D printing. A common comparison that is often made therefore is which is better between the increasingly popular Blender, and the equally famous SketchUp application.
For the purpose of creating 3D models designed to be manufactured into real world objects, SketchUp is the better option as it is specialized for the task. For all other intentions, like video games and animations, Blender is the better choice with its larger suite of tools to choose from.
When comparing two different applications we need to consider what the main purpose is for these applications, how accessible it is, and how well the software achieves its primary purpose.
Is Blender Better Than CAD Software For Object Design?
While the general purpose of applications may appear similar, every application is unique in how it approaches completing certain tasks. And you can also categorize different applications based on the types of tasks that they are able to perform.
Blender is considered a 3D modeling application that does not specialize in anything but is very good at just about everything. What it is not though is a form of CAD software.
The term CAD is short for Computer Aided Design and is used to refer to applications that are explicitly built for the purpose of creating 3D models of objects with the intention of manufacturing them into real-world objects. CAD software is specialized specifically to this task, and the workflows that an artist must follow are guided towards the goal.
This is very different from what Blender allows you to do. It does not specialize in any one task, like 3D design for manufacturing, and so you have the freedom to adopt any workflow that you wish using Blender. This sounds like an advantage, but it is the opposite in this case.
With dedicated CAD software, everything is geared to help the end-user create an accurate representation of the object they are looking to create, from the user interface to the tools made available in the software.
So when you are creating 3D models, the purpose of those models will determine if Blender is a better choice than any form of CAD software.
If the purpose of your model is to become an actual object through either 3D printing or manufacturing, then the tools in CAD software will allow you to design your models to the exact dimensions that you require, and while this is absolutely possible in Blender, it is not as easy to do so.
Therefore in terms of object design for manufacturing, Blender is not as good an option as the many CAD alternatives that are available.
However, if using Blender to create objects for other reasons, such as video game design, animations, and concept art, it is a much better alternative to using dedicated CAD software where the functionality is generally more limited.
Why Is Blender Better Than SketchUp?
So in general we know that for object design and manufacturing Blender is not an ideal choice when compared to a dedicated CAD application like SketchUp, but there are certainly benefits to using Blender over a program like SketchUp.
Blender Is Free…
The first reason why Blender is a better choice is that it is entirely free software. With SketchUp, you do have the ability to use the web-based version for free, but if you want to use the full version from your desktop without requiring an internet browser, then you will need to fork out $235 a year to use the software on your computer.
And Is Also Open Source
The second reason why we prefer to use Blender over SketchUp is the ability to edit the source code of the Blender software. Blender 3D is open source software meaning that you can download the source code itself and make any changes that you want to your version of the program.
Choice Of How You Want To Create…
When it comes to 3D modeling, Blenders suite of tools allows artists to choose the workflow that they wish to use. For example, in Blender you could decide to use sculpt tools instead of the traditional modeling tools to create the model, or use geometry nodes for an entire procedural workflow.
The range of tools that are accessible to you is vast, and there is more to learn here than what most artists will need. With different object types, modeling tools, sculpting tools modifiers and more, Blender offers you the freedom to be as creative as you want.
And How You Want To Use The Tools
Complexity counts as both an advantage and a disadvantage in Blender. You can create very intricate objects and shapes using Blender quite easily, however, in SketchUp, the tools are designed to be relatively basic and easy to use. While this makes the learning curve a lot easier it does limit the artist when creating more complex models.
Not only are you able to choose what workflow you want to use, but you also have the power to use the tools themselves how you want, and many of the tools can be accessed from various locations and hotkeys.
For example, the extrude tool allows you to create new geometry from the existing shape, and you can extrude using several methods including the ability to extrude along your normals, and towards the positioning of the cursor.
Then you have the various ways that you can access the extrude tool, such as locating the tool from the mesh menu in the viewport, or the face menu. The extrude tool can also be found on the tool shelf at the side of the viewport. You even have the E key which can be used as the hotkey for the extrude function or Alt + E to open the extrude menu.
Creating For Digital Projects
Perhaps the easiest distinction that you can make between Blender and SketchUp is this, one is best suited to the creation of digital products, ie Blender, while the other option is better suited to the design of physical products, ie SketchUp.
If you are modeling for video games, animations, or artistic renders, then the better choice will definitely be to use Blender. The variety of tools beyond modeling, as well as the various methods of 3D design, allow you to create models that are better suited for digital projects,
What is the distinction between the two? For manufacturing, the focus is on creating a clean shape that is capable of being created using machinery or 3D printers. For video games and animations, the model needs to be animated, and should be easy to rig for animation, as well as for the animations used in a game. It also needs to have the appropriate materials and textures for the project, which are not part of the workflow for CAD software.
Going Beyond Single Objects
If you are looking at creating full environments within your 3D viewport, both are fully capable of doing so, but Blender has the edge in terms of environmental design.
In SketchUp the idea is for the environment to complement the main model with the tools on offer, while in Blender you’re able to focus more on the creation of an entire virtual world if you want to.
Beautiful Realistic Renders Of Your Scenes
Render engines allow you to process your 3D scenes into a 2D image based on the perspective of your viewport camera.
SketchUp uses its rendering software as a preview to what a model may look like, either by itself or as a part of a larger environment.
Blender also has this level of functionality with the Eevee render engine, which is built for speed and allows the artist to quickly view their scene with excellent detail.
However, where Blender comes out on top here is with its Cycles X engine, which is a path tracing renderer built for realism, and it does an incredible job at doing so.
It also has now reached the point where those who have the right hardware will be able to use Cycles almost as fast as they can use Eevee when working in the 3D viewport, as performance and tools continue to improve for both render engines in Blender.
If you want to learn more about Blender you can check out our course on Skillshare by clicking the link here and get 1 month free to the entire Skillshare library.
Why Is SketchUp Better Than Blender?
It’s clear that there are many reasons as to why you would want to use Blender over SketchUp as your chosen software, but there are also reasons why you would want to use SketchUp instead. Here are the reasons why we believe you should consider SketchUp and when…
Dedicated And Specialized Software
One of the key differences to be made between Blender and SketchUp is that one is a generalized application used for a variety of tasks, while the other is specialized software that is dedicated to only a view tasks and workflows.
SketchUp is the specialized software of the tool, focusing on the design of 3D models that are used as concepts for the manufacturing of real objects.
Therefore, the software needs to meet all of the requirements for designing objects for this purpose. It needs to allow the artist to design their model to the specifications required, as when using this kind of software our projects normally have to follow certain specs, such as dimensions of the model, positioning of joints, curvature, thickness, etc. SketchUp allows you to do all of this as an integral part of the modeling workflow.
A Much Easier Learning Curve
It can easily be considered an advantage to have soo many tools available to use as is the case in Blender, as well as the sheer variety of what you are able to do with the software.
But when there is more to learn it also makes learning more challenging. Over the years Blender has long been considered a difficult application to learn to use, and even more difficult to master.
Now, this is not quite the case as Blender has been developed to become easier to use than before and there are many online resources for learning how to use the various tools in Blender.
Despite this, it still remains a much more challenging application to learn than SketchUp, which is arguably one of the easiest 3D modeling applications that you can learn, especially amongst the options that have free versions.
It also has a ton of great resources for learning the software and how to use the different tools, which makes learning SketchUp easier still.
In personal experience, it took me a few weeks to get comfortable using Blender when I first began learning many years ago, but with SketchUp it only took a few hours before I was able to create models of a similar standard. So yes, SketchUp is easier to learn than Blender, especially at the start.
Simple Tool Structure
The easier learning curve exists because of two important factors, the first of which being the simple tool structure. For every tool that is available in SketchUp, there are a dozen plus tools in Blender to learn, and while this is great for Blender in terms of flexibility, it also means that the way tools are structured is a bit more complex compared to the CAD alternative.
Much Cleaner User Interface
The second key factor to the improved learning curve is the UI, which is short for User Interface. As of Blender version 2.80 the UI is much easier to use for beginners, but we still give the advantage here to SketchUp in terms of simplicity.
You can very quickly get to grips with where everything is located in SketchUp which makes actually using the software a more pleasant, intuitive experience.
Industry Standard Set Of Tools
With Blender, you are able to create any object and any shape that you want and are then able to add materials, textures, lighting, and rigging to the model. In SketchUp, you are able to take things a step further and analyze the behavior of your model based on real-world properties.
For example, if you use SketchUp for creating the architecture you will be able to perform Daylight Analysis, where the software is able to judge how much natural light the rooms of the building will receive.
You also have the ability to determine the feasibility of an object’s form under stress using Structural Analysis, which can be again useful when designing buildings for architecture.
The Conclusion Of Which Is Better
The answer is dependent on the purpose of your work and the projects that you choose to do. If you are using your software to create objects for manufacturing, 3D printing, or architecture, then the better option is the specialized software that is SketchUp.
Otherwise, if you are in need of a 3D modeling platform to create animations or design 3D video game assets, then the flexibility and variability with Blenders workflow is the ideal way to go.
Thanks For Reading The Article
We appreciate you taking the time to read through the article and we hope that you found the information that we’re looking for. We have compiled a list of additional topics that you may be interested in reading.
- Which Is Better Between Blender And Maya?
- A List Of Reasons To Use Blender
- Do Professionals Use Blender 3D?
- How To Export A Game Asset To Godot?
- Removing The Grid Lines In The Viewport
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