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Google Releases SketchUp 8

The latest version of Google's modeling software offers improved tools to amateur and professional 3D artists alike.

Google on Wednesday introduced SketchUp 8, an updated version of its downloadable 3D modeling software.

Last updated in November, 2008, the eighth iteration of SketchUp features a redesigned modeling workflow to make the software more useful for Google Earth modelers and graphics professionals.

Google's engineers have replaced the "Get Current View" button with an "Add Location" button that simplifies the process of importing mapped areas into SketchUp, thanks to integration with Google Maps. The 3D terrain gathered in this manner is now more detailed and in color.

SketchUp 8 includes tighter integration with Building Maker, Google's free online tool for modeling existing buildings based on aerial imagery. Users can now start a model in Building Maker and easily transfer it into SketchUp. The connection between the two applications also allows users to open any Building Maker model in SketchUp, even those created by another person.

SketchUp 8 is available for free, but there's also a professional version for $495 (or a $95 as an upgrade from a previous pro version) that includes a new set of Solid tools for advanced users. The tools allow engineers and the like to perform modeling operations such as Union, Intersect, Subtract, Trim, and Split to create new 3D forms composed of multiple geometric shapes.

Another improvement available only to SketchUp Pro users is LayOut 3, a companion tool for turning 3D models into scaled 2D drafting presentations. LayOut 3 adds more precision to object movement, a custom line tool, an angular dimension tool, and the ability to export to DWG/DXF 2010 formats.

SketchUp 8 and SketchUp 8 Pro are available for for Mac OS X and Windows.

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