SchoolArts Magazine

February 2017

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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SketchUp and B ond David Gran 28 FEBRUARY 2017 SchoolArts M E D I A @ r + s I n December, I discussed how Trim- ble SketchUp is an excellent free and i ntuitive entry point for students to learn about 3D modeling. Once they've learned to render basic shapes, there is much more to do before mov - ing on to the next project. For me, there are two exciting ways to interact with exported SketchUp models—in virtual space and in real- world space. In Real Space In November, I wrote about aug- mented reality and how much this technology is changing the way we interact with the world around us. Programs such as Inglobe Technol- ogy's AR-media (www.inglobetech- allows you to attach your virtual sketch model to a real-world marker or geolocation. When you look at the marker or location through a device that has the application installed, you can see your virtual model in real space. This option has the potential of allowing students to: (a) create site- specific installations and sculptures that can be located anywhere; and (b) create a conversation about a space without interrupting or infringing upon the real-world space. Alternative Apps A less expensive option is the iOS/ Android app, inVR, which allows you to view your model in 3D virtual space using Google Cardboard or a virtual reality headset. SketchUp constructs can also be turned into real-world objects. Plugins such as "Flattery" and "Unwrap and Flatten Faces" covert the 3D files into 2D planes that can be printed and reassembled as paper craft. Beyond SketchUp There are two other solu- tions outside of SketchUp that have the added bonus of automatically adding tabs for easier folding and assembling. The first is 123D Make, which is avail- able for Mac and PC, but does not handle complex objects with great fidelity. Pepakura (www.tamasoft. seems to be the best option due to its user interface and accuracy. Both programs will take files from SketchUp that have been exported as .obj files and "unfold" them onto a flat surface. After these files are printed, they can be cut out, folded, and pasted together. In fact, if you have access to a laser cutter, these files can also be edited, enlarged, and cut out on a heavier card stock or cardboard. Complex Approaches SketchUp is deceptively complex because its interface is so simple. Once students have learned the basics of the program, they'll discover ways to make their models even more complex with a deeper usage of the tools. There are literally thousands of plugins that you can install to take your models to the next level, includ- ing ones that allow you to animate your models, render them realistically with lighting and textures, or prepare them for 3D printing. Forms can also be exported to animation programs and game design engines, allowing the models to be used interactively. S tarting small and developing more complex approaches through a K–12 curriculum is a great way to engage students in a 3D modeling pro- gram which has so much potential. Although easy to overlook, SketchUp could be one of the first tools to include in your digital toolbox. David Gran teaches high-school art and film classes at the Shanghai American School in China and is the author of The Carrot Revolution, a blog about 21st cen- tury art education. There are two exciting wa s to interact with exported SketchUp models—in virtual space and in real-world space.

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