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Learning how to use Google sketch  RSS feed

 
Tom Connolly
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I would like to learn how to use Google Sketch so that I can be more productive with my planning/dreaming. Does anyone have any ideas on how to learn? I don't have any drafting/engineering background, though I do have good handyman skills.
 
David Vidal
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Location: Catalonia (Europe), Zone 9
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I remember I learned to use the most basic Sketch Up tools in just a few days, just via trial and error. A tip: do not download the pro version of Sketch Up but first the free version. Obviously if you were skilled on some CAD or even some graphical software (like Photoshop, Inkscape, Illustrator) the learning curve would be instantaneous, but if you feel fast with your computer skills it should not take much effort to learn the basics.

Maybe you can find some video tutorials which are a good way to learn for yourself if you google something like Google Sketch Up courses.

I also liked to draw permaculture plans on Google Sketchup, but I got frustrated after a certain point because the program is very well suited and easy to use for drawing squares and square-like shapes, but extremely tedious when creating and interacting with round shapes and all that involves them, and for permaculture purposes it's usual to use more rounded shapes and not angular, etc. So I ended up using vectorial graphics software (the open source Inkscape), which are also difficult to master and you are forced to draw everything in bird's-eye view but I felt it was good enough. There it goes an example of a garden I was managing:



But as I mentioned, I also did some Sketch Up, but I find it more useful for buildings and much more complicated for landscapes or gardening. There it goes another example of what I did with my home:



So it all depends on what use you want to focus on, how many time you get to learn about the software you finally use, and about your overall vision and how abstract/realist you want it to get.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
Posts: 2679
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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SketchUp is a pretty powerful tool, and I agree that it is more flexible for architectural drawing rather than landscapes. That being said, I created a very crude 3D model of the front (West-facing) façade of my house and played around with tree and shrub placement for water harvesting and sun-deflecting purposes (I live in a desert so I want to harvest water and deflect sun from hitting my home in the summer). I was trying to get across to my parents that it's not enough just to have overstory tree canopy, that low setting summer sun sneaks in under the tree canopy in the evening and BLASTS my western façade which, alas, also sports my largest windows (bad design for a desert). So this was my attempt at showing them how a range of what I call "solar baffle" shrubs would help protect the front of the house.

Note that this drawing only shows shrubs and trees. I actually use vines and exterior blinds in real life. But you get the drift. The house is oriented correctly along the axis and I've turned on the "shadow" feature and chosen Jun 22 (summer equinox in Northern hemisphere) as the date for the sun angles. You can see the difference one 6 ft tall shrub makes to shading my house as we follow the timeline from 4 pm, 5 pm and 6 pm. (Note the 3' tall shrubs make no difference to shading the patio).

So first a comparison of shadows without the tall shrub:
West-facade-Jun22-5-pm-wo_shrub.jpg
[Thumbnail for West-facade-Jun22-5-pm-wo_shrub.jpg]
Western facade at 5 pm 6/22
West-facade-Jun22-6-pm-wo_shrub.jpg
[Thumbnail for West-facade-Jun22-6-pm-wo_shrub.jpg]
Western facade at 6 pm 6/22
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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You can see that by 6 pm, the low setting sun is sneaking under my tree canopy and heating up my house.

The shots below shows what happens on the same day, 6/22 WITH the addition of a 6 ft shrub planted strategically at the NW corner of my front yard.
West-facade-Jun22-5-pm-w_shrub.png
[Thumbnail for West-facade-Jun22-5-pm-w_shrub.png]
5 pm with shrub
West-facade-Jun22-6-pm-w_shrub.jpg
[Thumbnail for West-facade-Jun22-6-pm-w_shrub.jpg]
6 pm with shrub
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
Posts: 2679
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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And the results to my electrical usage from making small changes. Note even though I live in the second sunniest city in the US - I have no home solar power - the ROI just doesn't work for me in my situation.

I challenged myself this year to cut my (already frugal) electrical useage by 20%. So far I've managed to cut it by 43%. How? A variety of measures:
--I brought the insulation in my attic up to code in March 2012 and had 5 vents installed in my roof - that saved me a bunch of money in 2012 over 2011
--the cost savings I saw in 2013 were primarily due to a more strategic use of electricity, encouraging cool air exchange at night and blocking the sun from hitting the walls/windows of my house passively. The AC is geared to come on when it gets to be 86 in my house - regardless if it's on or off "peak". I am on an energy savings plan whereby off-peak electrical use (between 7 pm and noon) is cheaper than on-peak (noon to 7 pm). Here in the hot desert our highest electrical usage is during the day during summer to cool our homes. Exterior blinds, vines and strategically placed shrubs all help shade my home. Opening the windows and placing fans in strategic places helps harvest cool nighttime air and vent heat buildup that occurred during the day.

electrical-savings-with-passive-solar.jpg
[Thumbnail for electrical-savings-with-passive-solar.jpg]
the difference a few "passive" tweaks can make
electrical-savings-with-passive-solar1.jpg
[Thumbnail for electrical-savings-with-passive-solar1.jpg]
Saving big time!
 
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