Google Sketchup is something I have heard about a lot as being an effective tool for game concept work but have never inquired to try it out for myself. Having glanced at an article for it in a magazine the other day I decided to take the time to investigate and I am very pleased that I did.
Immediately as I started it up I was able to get to grips with it within 5 minutes, baring similarities to most other software with basic shape drawing tools and movement controls. With the entire thing being snap controlled it is very easily to make a simple shape quickly and then using the variety of other controls to edit it future and turn a box into a house or other shape. I really enjoyed using the software as I found it simple to achieve something and with just time and a plan can see it being a much preferable alternative for me to produce basic models, rather than 3Ds Max, which at sometimes I find to be fiddly to produce some things.
The only gripe I currently have with Sketchup and I assume, one that can be easily solved through further exploration, is the lack of precision. I find myself undoing something repeatedly to get a line in just the perfect position as it will never quite want to go where I want it to.
A quick 10-20 minute session with it allowed me to produce what I would hope resembled a barn house, something that would take me an hour in 3Ds Max from simply, second guessing myself on every aspect of it as I went along.
In essence the main reason I really enjoyed using Sketchup and will most definitely use it again, is its basic. Whilst with 3Ds Max and other software I try to make each part perfectly modeled and shaped, Sketchup removes this necessity and just allows me to make the basic shape of a structure and build on it as I go.
The final point about Sketchup is its community sharing feature that allows you to quickly search for a particular model and find hundreds of examples made by other users that can then be downloaded for your personal use, or just as reference if you are working on a similar model.
Overall though I will certainly use Sketchup again and see what is possible with the models once one is completed, e.g. importing it into Photoshop to add a backdrop and produce my own concept art piece.