Monday, October 26, 2009

WINNERS of the Pumpkin Carving Contest

Congratulations to the top three winning pumpkin-carvers in the SketchUp Island carving contest! The judges have spoken and...

Gold Medal goes to Aerilius in Germany who created the menacing "Snarling Pumpkin" who is biting another pumpkin.

Silver Medal goes to Cathy Tritschler of France whose terrible ogre pumpkin swallows the Earth on its tongue while looking scary at the same time.

Bronze Medal goes to Tobias Merk, whose Rübengeist is not a pumpkin at all, but a fodder beet. Says Tobias of his carving, "we have a very similar custom in Germany or more specifically in Bavaria where I'm from. Instead of pumpkins our children use fodder beets for making little ghosts, which should scare away evil spirits. We call these carved beets "Rübengeister"

Excellent work everybody. All three winners will appear in the header art of this blog in the week leading up to Halloween. Additionally, Igloo Studios has donated a year's subscription and a month's subscription to their School Pro website for First and Second Place winners respectively.

Thanks Mike and Alex at Igloo Studios, and thank you judges (Beryl, Jennie, Addie, Alex, Eryne, Dawn, Zack, and Mike), thank you Aidan Chopra for donating pumpkins to carve, thank you John Wilkes for providing entertaining pumpkin fiction, thanks Tasha at Google for blogging about this, and thanks to the many other people who submitted pumpkins. Did I leave anyone out?

I hope you all had some fun. Peace out.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pumpkins Pumpkins Pumpkins

All October it's been nothing but pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins here on SketchUp Island. Pumpkin Mania! The pumpkin carving contest has been a success, with the last few pumpkin entries rolling in today...

Soon they'll be judged (thank you, lovely judges) and then on October 27 the winners will be announced and appear in the header of the blog here.

In addition to this, Second Place winner will receive a one-month Pro account membership to Igloo Studios' School website, and First Place winner will receive a whole year's membership! Thanks to Igloo for that.

Good luck, pumpkins of the World!

UPDATE: The entry period has closed (one hour ago at 11:59 PM on October 24 Eastern US Time). If for some reason your pumpkin appears after that time, regardless of the upload date it won't be submitted to the judges, however it will appear in the collection with all the other pumpkins. Thanks to all participants and judges!

SECOND UPDATE: Winners will be announced tomorrow (October 27) and appear in the header. Good luck!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Preview Window: Fill 'Er Up

Model was uploaded from a wide screen (highlight to see shape)

Upload trick of the day. I may be wrong about this but I don't think so... when uploading a model to the 3D Warehouse, your SketchUp window width-to-height ratio determines the ratio of your preview image. Therefore this is one more technique you can use to control how large your model appears in that window.

In the above example, "Kelso Town Hall" by Alistair_M, we can see the model was uploaded from a wide screen.

SketchUp Competitions

This just in... Mike Tadros and Alex Oliver of Igloo Studios have thrown in a one year Pro Account membership to the SketchUp School website for the first place winner of the pumpkin carving contest, and a one month Pro Account membership for the second place winner!

Enter now, dammit!

Or, if carving pumpkins just isn't your thing, or if you missed the October 24 deadline for the pumpkin carving contest, there are some other SketchUp competitions coming up to suit every taste...

Check out the SketchUp blog post all about it HERE.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Halloween Header Art

Good morning, SketchUp Islanders! And spooky morning, too. Mwah-ha-ha!

You may have noticed that the new autumn holiday header art has arrived as promised. I created this illustration not just to decorate the blog, but also to commemorate the contestants who have entered the Pumpkin Carving Contest. Thanks to all who have done so!

Anyone can enter before October 24. Just carve a virtual SketchUp pumpkin, upload it to the 3D Warehouse before October 24, and include the tag "sketchupislandpumpkins2009."

Our judges will rank three top pumpkins, and those pumpkins will be added into the blog's header artwork for the Halloween season, along with the names of the three winners!

NOTE: The header illustration was created with Google SketchUp and image editing software. Everything is "from scratch" and no photographs were used.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Beryl the Builder

Meet Beryl the Builder.

Beryl Reid will be one of our judges this Halloween in the pumpkin carving contest. Be sure to enter a pumpkin design by October 24 so that Beryl can check out your work!

Asked about herself, Beryl writes
My interests [are] Art, Photography, SketchUp, Genealogy, teaching, paper sculpture, learning new things... the usual. I just found out that I am going to be a grandmother, so that's taking front runner in the interests list right now. I am a Google Certified Teacher too, I teach Google World to my school system. I was trained by Google in Boulder this summer, now I am set forth to spread the word of all the great apps created by Google. My little "Literary Landmarks" collection of buildings is now featured on Google "Lit Trips", which I am very proud of and I live in Massachusetts.
PS. She's called "Beryl the Builder" because of the number of quality 3D models she has built on Google Earth. Check them out HERE. She did a couple pumpkins, too! Last but not least, congratulations on your good news, Beryl.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Street View Trike

This is kind of hilarious and cool, too. To get into tiny, interesting spaces that the Street View Car can't get to, Google has invented the Street View Tricycle (Trike), a high-tech, picture-making vehicle manned by an athlete.

Watch the video and then follow the link to give your suggestions for where to take the Street View Trike. But do it before October 28, which is the deadline for suggestion-taking. I've already suggested Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania (USA).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Model Me Minnesota Model Mega-Complicated

Hi SketchUp Islanders

So I've been sitting on a number of nice models which for one  reason or another I just haven't gotten around to publishing them.

Here's a sneak peek at one that's about two years old! Click the image for larger view. this was done using the "model me" kits put out by Google.

In this case, the State Capitol of Minnesota was photographed from all angles one winter's day by some good person and then the photos were published as a Picasa web album. A marker was placed at the appropriate location and uploaded as a SketchUp file. Then I took those materials and made this model.

I ran into some issues. Edges not forming closed loops, and faces not dividing when they should. I think I need to reduce the complexity. Maybe I'll start over and import the textures and certain pieces of geometry into the new model. In the meantime I've begun other new models which will go out first.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My First Building Maker Model

Actually it's my first American building (in Philadelphia, PA) done with Google's new Building Maker program.

I heard that if you model a tall building whose image has "projected" onto another nearby model, that Building Maker will recognize this second building and remove its projected image from the first building. At the time of writing this model has that problem. Part of a neighboring tower appears on one wall.

I'll model the tower and see what happens...

Image of a neighboring building's roof got projected onto the model

EDIT: I modeled and published that tower and so far no change on the shorter model. Maybe it takes more time?

Modest Judge With Red Worms

Meet Jennie.

Jennie is a very cool friend of mine and a judge in this year's SketchUp Island pumpkin carving contest. Be sure to enter HERE before the deadline (October 24) for a chance to have Jennie check out your work and, if it wins, it will appear in the Halloween header artwork for this blog!

Jennie, by way of introduction, has this to say about herself
Jennie has a fine arts degree that gathers dust as she works as an executive wrangler at a VA consulting firm.  She comes from a long line of pumpkin carvers, and is still plotting her design for this year.  She claims to have no recent accomplishments.
So modest! Jennie forgot to mention how creative she is (knits a mean scarf) and that she has a red worm composting system! Thanks Jennie and, see you around the Island...

3D History Layer

I have heard the idea tossed around of a "3D historic buildings" layer for Google Earth.

Imagine being able to travel back in time in 3D and really get a sense of what a place was like years ago. If it were ever developed, a great source of historic imagery for modelers would be the Shorpy blog which I have mentioned several times before.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A New Spin On Your Old Models

Meet Zack Mertz, one of our pumpkin judges this Halloween in the pumpkin carving contest.

Or rather, meet Zack Mertz's pumpkin. This is Zack's "Happy Halloween" greeting from him and Concept3D to all of you (Enter the contest so Zack can see your work, but do it in the next ten days before the contest ends!)

The original graphic was much cooler than the one I posted above, because the pumpkin could spin in a 3D view like the models do on the 3D Warehouse. I couldn't figure out how to host the images and so yes, I failed. But at least you get to see one frame. If I figure it out I'll re-post with the spinning view. In the meantime, see it here at Concept3D.*

If you want to learn how to hack the 3D view code (known as the SketchUp web exporter plugin) and customize it like Zack did, watch this YouTube video.

Zack is a founder of and a 3D designer at Concept3D, based in Boulder, Colorado and Minnesota. He is an avid skier and a recent father.

* EDIT: Scroll to the bottom of the post area to see the 3D pumpkin gadget Zack made. Thanks to Aerilius for the tip on how to make it work!

And the Winner Is...

And the winner is... I don't know!

I am referring to the Monopoly City Streets building design contest. So many cool entries were made (I made thirteen myself). But who won?

October 13 at midnight, winners were to be announced. I wasn't sure if that meant midnight at the start of October 13 (which is technically the midnight that happens on that date) or the midnight at the end of that day. Either way they've both come and gone and I can't find an announcement of winners. Has anyone seen anything?

UPDATE: I won! Second Place with this model.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Autumn Greetings From Oxfordshire, UK

SketchUp Islander Wurzeller has submitted the latest pumpkin to the pumpkin carving contest today, along with a cool little history of pumpkin carving traditions in his family. I like it! He writes
We have a tradition of carving Hallowe'en pumpkins and sometimes turnips in my family. This menacing design is similar to one I have done, with variations, many times in real pumpkins...
Click on the 3D Warehouse logo in the image to check out Wurzeller's pumpkin up-close. Then from there click on the link to the SketchUp Island Pumpkin Patch collection and check out the other cool Jack-O-Lantern submissions we've been getting!

SketchUp Is So Twisted

SketchUp Islander Aerilius wanted to share a cool Ruby plugin with all of you. He writes
I wanted to share some tips about pumpkin growing:

There is a useful plugin by ruby-developer Fredo. His plugin Fredoscale allows to choose the direction of the scaling box in SketchUp. He has enhanced it with many additional features like tapering, twisting and bending. The plugin [first requires] Libfredo, and you only need to copy the files inside both zip-archives into the /Sketchup/plugins directory.
It may be useful to make pumpkins look more natural and asymmetric.
Thanks, Aerilius! I'll have to try that one out. It accomplishes something that I always want to do in SketchUp but never knew how...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

SketchUp Island Adventures #7: Eloi Raiol

This week's SketchUp Island Adventure takes us into the world of Eloi Raiol, high in the canopy of the jungle...

After a successful hunt in which three particularly vicious SketchUp Island pumpkins were rounded up and turned into pies and soup (enough to last weeks into the winter), I found myself feeling quite full and in need of a walk to shed some of those extra pounds.

I turned my nose in the direction of the forest and stepped into the cool air beneath the trees. Suddenly I heard a terrible snarl behind me and to the right. I froze and then ever-so-slowly twisted my head around to see what it was. Just as I feared: a giant, vengeful pumpkin. I took a deep breath and I ran for my life!

Dear SketchUp Island: Inaccurate and Rejected Models

Dear SketchUp Island: I am so frustrated by the lack of consistency in acceptance criteria for Google Earth. My model is so much better than the other one that got accepted! Signed, Ready To Blow A Fuse in France

Dear Ready To Blow: Let's turn off the power main for a moment and examine our options. I can think of three ways to address this problem. If your own model is rejected for the reason "better model exists" then you can choose (at the bottom of your model preview page) to follow the link to tell Google "Why We Are Wrong." Secondly, if you come across an inaccurate model on Google earth, click it. In the pop-up window, click on "Report Inaccurate Model" and tell Google what's wrong. Better yet, the third option is to contact the model owner through the model preview page and tell them what the problem is.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

SketchUp Island Adventures #6: Alex Juhola Ostler

Autumn: a crucial time for pumpkin hunting on SketchUp Island. Our survival instinct takes over. We know the pumpkins must sustain us... If we can manage to catch any.

You see, the pumpkins are tricky fellows on SketchUp Island. They slip away easily, roll under bushes and vanish. Some, when cornered, gnash their teeth and snarl. One needs stealth and focus to snare a pumpkin. And any SketchUp Islander knows that a true hunter of pumpkins must hunt by the light of the harvest moon.

It was under these circumstances, on a cold, crisp night beneath the stars and moon, in near silence, that I bumped into a fellow pumpkin hunter who was crawling through the SketchUp Island pumpkin patch on hands and knees, spear in hand. Crickets chirped and we conducted our interview in hushed tones...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pirate Dawn

Meet Pirate Dawn.

Dawn will be one of our SketchUp pumpkin carving judges this Halloween. If you haven't submitted your pumpkin to the SketchUp Island Pumpkin Patch yet, you might want to... soon. Otherwise Pirate Dawn will come and get you! Arrr!

Dawn is a costume/set designer for the music business in Los Angeles and a self-described "Halloweenie Lover," also working in the travel industry. She's a pirate. AND she's doing something great this October to help those suffering from HIV and AIDS through AIDS Walk Los Angeles. Dawn says

Pat Acton Matchstick Models

From time to time I like to show you what modelers are doing in mediums other than SketchUp.

Modeler Pat Acton of Gladbrook, Iowa (USA) creates amazing buildings, ships, and even portrait busts out of matchsticks.

Maybe this will give SketchUp artists some inspiration.

In the illustration (seen HERE on his wife's website originally) we see Pat with his model of the United States Capitol. This model was made with nearly half a million matchsticks!

Pat is a career counselor and does matchstick modeling as a "passionate hobby." See more models at his website,, and also at his wife's website HERE.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rain Stomper

Meet Addie Kay Boswell. She will be one of our SketchUp pumpkin carving contest judges this Halloween.

Addie is a painter and children's author/illustrator living and working in Portland, Oregon, whose picture book The Rain Stomper (illustrated by Eric Velasquez) was just awarded the Oregon Spirit Book Award.

Congratulations, Addie!

To enter the pumpkin carving contest and have Addie check out your work, enter the site HERE.

Pennsylvania Railroad Station II

Somebody made a different Pennsylvania Station for the Monopoly contest. Check it out. I also made one last week.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Donna's Arboretum

My thirteenth submission to the Monopoly City Streets design contest. It's called "Donna's Arboretum" and it's named for my friend Donna who owns Samuel's Florist in Burbank, California.

This model is a good example of when to use components. The building was built 1/4 of the way and then repeated. The trees repeat and so do the rocks (there is only one rock turned and resized to look like many) and the flowers (only one kind, dyed different colors) repeat as well.

The pine trees are made from a single ring of branches that repeats vertically and is shrunk each time. Each ring is made of one unit that repeats in a circle.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

SketchUp Island Adventures

In keeping with the Adventurous spirit and theme of the popular "RSI" (Really Short Interview) Series, the series has been renamed SketchUp Island Adventures.

The short interviews will be written in the style of pulp novels and/or 1930's radio broadcasts or something like that. It will still be a fun venue to get to know people in the 3D modeling world in an unusual way... with a different title.

Keep your eyes open for two new SketchUp Island Adventures coming soon!

Pumpkin Making With Aidan

You may have seen the tutorials on how to make a 3D pumpkin that I posted to the SketchUp Island pumpkin carving contest website.*

What's cool is that there are many unique approaches to creating a pumpkin shape, really. I just figured out one way on my own. Below is a demonstration of another way that Googler Aidan Chopra makes pumpkins, using complex curves.

Read on!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Dear SketchUp Island: Make Unique Texture

Dear SketchUp Island: If the purpose of "Make Unique Texture" is to cut off the excess of a texture and reduce it to the essentials, then why does the file size actually sometimes increase when this is done?" --Questioning

Good question, Questioning. I'm going to try something new. Maybe some smart person out there can post an answer in the comments to this post.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

SketchUp School

Meet Mike Tadros. He will be one of our judges this Halloween in the Pumpkin Carving Contest.

When I got started in SketchUp I really had NO idea how to do it. I was not a "computer person." Luckily there was a great, free resource called The SketchUp Show (starring Mike T. and Alex Oliver) that I began watching on iTunes. It turns what might seem like a formidable subject for a beginner into something very approachable.

I'm revisiting The SketchUp Show this week to learn more about Dynamic Components, which are objects you can design to interact with (example, a door that swings open when you click on it). I feel like I'm starting at the beginning again but I'm not too worried this time :)

Why is Mike dressed like a Power Ranger? See SketchUp Show episode #37 for the answer to this and other fashion tips from Mike.

My Twelfth Monopoly Creation, Like, For Real

I call it "Coconut Milk Tower." Originally it was "Dairy Tower" because it is shaped like a carton of milk. But then I thought I would rename it "Soy Milk Tower" for the vegans. But then... I recalled that a certain vegan close to me prefers coconut milk. Hence, it became Coconut Milk Tower.

So there you have it. It's all true, too. This model is found in these collections: My Monopoly Buildings, Models By Zoungy

Awesome SketchUp Jack-O-Lantern Wallpaper

Go visit the pumpkin carving contest site* to get this really awesome high-resolution Jack-O-Lantern wallpaper for your computer! It's in the section marked "goodies."

The full size image is 1200 X 1600 pixels and looks great on my 1344 X 1792 monitor. (Click thumbnail for preview size only).

While you're at it, register for the pumpkin carving contest (see the site* for details). The winners will be featured in the new header artwork of this blog!

"Happy Pumpkin" was designed using Google SketchUp and is the official mascot of the 2009 SketchUp Island Pumpkin Carving Contest. 

*BOO-HOO! Although the site is no longer live, you can still see all the cool pumpkins that were made in the 3D model collection HERE.

The Contenders

The contenders are starting to march in to the arena for the pumpkin carving contest, and they look great!

Want to win? Be sure to enter soon, because the deadline is October 24. For details on how to enter click HERE.

The prize? Your pumpkin and name will appear in a new header illustration for this blog. The blog has had ten thousand (10,000) page views in more than 100 nations since late August, so your pumpkin will be seen by many people! But the bigger award is just doing it. It will definitely make you cool and maybe even get you a girlfriend or boyfriend. Trust me.

Please remember to follow instructions carefully in order to win. Include only solid colors (not photo textures); turn off edges and all geometry except SketchUp faces; upload your pumpkin as a "close-up" and don't forget to tag it with "sketchupislandpumpkins2009."

I prefer that you light it for October 31, 2009, 8:00 PM from the bottom right (see top right example) but this is not absolutely necessary.

One more thing. Have fun :-)

Beautiful Gas Station

Since the deadline for entry into the Monopoly City Streets game piece design contest has been extended, more submissions are coming in. Take a look at this one by BerylDrue, one of my favorites.