Sketchup Blog - News and Notes from the Sketchup folks

SketchUp Pro Case Study: Alexander James International

We recently came across some marvelous work from Alexander James International (AJI), an interior design firm in the UK that specializes in the Hotel & Leisure market. Michael Reekie, Senior Interior Designer for AJI, was good enough to provide some insight into how they use SketchUp Pro.

I started using SketchUp Pro about five years ago. At that time we considered it a tool to help produce quick 3D line drawings of small areas. Gradually, its value has become more apparent and with the recent addition of Shaderlight, it is now considered to be an invaluable tool by the whole design team.

At the earliest stages of the design concept, I import a CAD plan of the project into SketchUp from which I build a model. It gives us a three dimensional awareness and makes space planning both easier and more accurate.

The SketchUp model offers better awareness of space which aids in the design and in space planning.

I continue to use SketchUp Pro throughout the design process, periodically using a fast, low resolution Shaderlight render to check the progress of lighting levels, features, furniture, and finishes.

SketchUp model with entourage and Shaderlight lighting elements, when rendered, will help validate the design, look and feel.

When I am sure that no other changes are necessary I produce a high resolution rendering which is imported into Photoshop. I can then make any small changes to colours or light levels and add people or anything else that I feel would enhance the final visual.

Final Render: SketchUp Pro + Shaderlight + Photoshop

Before using SketchUp I produced hand-rendered visuals. The uncomplicated nature of the program has made the transition easy and very effective. SketchUp has become an invaluable tool for the whole design team.

A big thanks to Michael Reekie ( and the whole AJI team for providing this snapshot into their SketchUp workflow. Great work!

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CCAD said...

I wish my teacher would see the benefits of SketchUp. He is MAKING us use a CAD program for a conceptual design. But I'm still gonna use it anyway...and perhaps Shaderlight too!

Anonymous said...

Some professionals are afraid of SketchUp because it is low-cost/ freely available. This may seem to defy logic, but this (in their own minds at least) takes their power away, because anyone can access it. Professions don't like that feeling.

I get the feeling that this is also true for educational establishments. The only way to overcome this is for students to demand proper recognition for this platform.

michaelr said...

I don't think that it's about power, but simply that we find it hard to believe that an inexpensive program that is so user friendly you can learn the basics in a day, can be up to he job. It doesn't have to be complicated!

michaelr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vassarette Handbags said...

I am a design student working with sketchup and I recently discovered Shaderlight, and Im eager to get to know all its capabilities, this blog post is both encouraging and inspirational.

sai said...

eager to get to know all its capabilities, this blog post is both encouraging and inspirational.

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Unknown said...

It must say good structure designing.

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ChrisA said...

I've been "off" SketchUp for a little while, but used to do project designs in SketchUp before switching to a CAD software for contract documents.
We are currently using an expensive CAD software that models and renders. Not only is it expensive, but it is difficult to teach staff to use.
This example has inspired me to look again at using the very affordable and easy-to-learn SketchUp!

Chris Armer, Compass Architecture


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ANT said...

Its cheap (free), its easy and I learnt to use it after coming to 3D CAD systems late.....I use SketchUp after many years after using MAX and other high end systems I can understand the irritation and of those that see it as too easy and therefore not as good as more expensive solutions .....but a lot of users don´t produce attractive renderings and so see it as a less sophisticated system.

Ive done some amazing things quickly with SkeychUp and see Reekie´s work as a typical good use of the many plug-ins avalable.

walk in wardrobes said...

sketchup just get better and better. all it need now is an inbuilt render engine that would be a game changer for us.

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