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Google Sketchup for Game Design: Beginner's Guide [Paperback]

Robin De Jongh
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Nov. 27 2011

Create 3D game worlds complete with textures, levels and props with this book and ebook

  • Learn how to create realistic game worlds with Google's easy 3D modeling tool
  • Populate your games with realistic terrain, buildings, vehicles and objects
  • Import to game engines such as Unity 3D and create a first person 3D game simulation
  • Learn the skills you need to sell low polygon 3D objects in game asset stores
  • Simple techniques to photo texture your models for ultra realism

In Detail

Creating video game environments similar to the best 3D games on the market is now within the capability of hobbyists for the first time, with the free availability of game development software such as Unity 3D, and the ease with which groups of enthusiasts can get together to pool their skills for a game project. The sheer number of these independent game projects springing up means there is a constant need for game art, the physical 3D environment and objects that inhabit these game worlds. Now thanks to Google there is an easy, fun way to create professional game art, levels and props.

Google SketchUp is the natural choice for beginners to game design. This book provides you with the workflow to quickly build realistic 3D environments, levels, and props to fill your game world. In simple steps you will model terrain, buildings, vehicles, and much more.

Google SketchUp is the ideal entry level modeling tool for game design, allowing you to take digital photographs and turn them into 3D objects for quick, fun, game creation. SketchUp for Game Design takes you through the modeling of a game level with SketchUp and Unity 3D, complete with all game art, textures and props. You will learn how to create cars, buildings, terrain, tools and standard level props such as barrels, fencing and wooden pallets. You will set up your game level in Unity 3D to create a fully functional first person walk-around level to email to your friends or future employers.

When you have completed the projects in this book, you will be comfortable creating 3D worlds, whether for games, visualization, or films.

What you will learn from this book

  • Discover the tools required to make game level and asset creation a swift and easy process
  • Create "game ready" textures from photos
  • Learn techniques for quick modeling by creating assets straight from textures
  • Sculpt rough terrains using easy Sandbox tools in SketchUp
  • Import the game art you created with SketchUp into a professional game engine: Unity 3D
  • Create realistic assets to bring the game alive such as buildings, tools, barrels, and rusty fencing
  • Model a 3D automobile with advanced SketchUp tricks and techniques
  • How to add lighting and walk around in your game


The book takes a clear, step-by-step approach to building a complete game level using SketchUp with many props and textures.

Who this book is written for

This book is designed for anyone who wants to create entire 3D worlds in freely available game engines such as Unity 3D, CryEngine, Ogre, Panda3D, Unreal Engine, and Blender Game Engine. It also targets all those who wish to create new levels and assets to sell in game asset stores or use in visualization or animation.

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
Packt Publishing has offered this an interesting book to me for review. It's about using Sketchup for game design. I like using Sketchup but I didn't know that it is good enough to be used for game design. This book shows that it can, and how you can do it.

This is a beginner's guide that's made up of step-by-step tutorials that build on one another. The goal is to construct a small town on uneven terrain at the outskirts of a city. It's the setting for a first person shooter game, and it's going to be used as demo where you can walk around the town.

To get up to speed, you need basic Sketchup knowledge like modeling and moving things around. The tutorials only cover the essential steps which focuses on finding textures, creating them, and mapping them onto the models.

Specifically for game design, it covers how textures are to be manipulated to get them looking good and still not be a drain on computing resources. The guided exercises are all easy to follow along.

In addition to Sketchup, the book introduces many free software that are to be downloaded and used for the tutorials. They are Meshlab, GIMP and Unity 3D. Unity 3D is a huge file so you'll want to download it first while reading the first few chapters.

The tutorials use GIMP, the Photoshop alternative, to edit pictures. You can still use Photoshop but you'll have to be proficient enough to understand how you can workaround, for example on how you can create seamless textures, because all the steps are written for GIMP.

There are many things new to me in this book. One of them is on creating undulating terrain inside Sketchup. I didn't know that was possible, and it's not difficult. There's also a chapter on modeling a car.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Intro to Integrating SketchUp Models into Gaming Apps Jan. 17 2012
By Bonnie Roskes - Published on
I'm a SketchUp author myself, and it's always fun to see what others are writing about.

This book actually targets two industries: game design and film / stage. Both use storyboarding to lay out scenarios, and Robin de Jongh explains how to do this in SketchUp, helped by other applications. I'm not an expert (to put it generously) in either field, so the fact that this is a self-stated "Beginner's Guide" is great for me.

To be clear, this isn't a book that teaches SketchUp modeling, though there's nothing presented that requires advanced SketchUp skills. But you'll be ill-served if you pick up this book with no SketchUp experience at all. This book is really about integration - combining SketchUp skills with skills in other applications.

Like Robin's previous book on rendering, this one is quite fun to read. Robin is very funny, and while this one isn't as laugh-out-loud as his first one (maybe his editors wanted this one to be more serious), the intro to each chapter is something to look forward to. And his casual, informal, writing style makes this book a lot more fun than your typical, dry "how-to" book.

And like in his first book, Robin's passion for free stuff comes through loud and clear. He uses free software for graphic editing (GIMP), and finds places to download free models and textures (CGTextures). He demonstrates using Unity 3D for setting up the environment after importing SketchUp assets (terrain and buildings and props). He also focuses on doing things as easily as possible - such as making model changes in SketchUp, rather than in more complex app's like Unity.

There's a lot in here about textures and materials. Not just how to use them in SketchUp, but the most efficient way to use them. Game design is all about speed, and Robin goes into detail about how to reduce the size and number of graphics to keep things running well. This is an important concept for any modeler, but particularly for the target audience of this book.

He devotes a chapter to terrain modeling, which makes sense - game environments (like the real world) aren't always flat planes. By combining plan view graphics and textures with the Sandbox, Stamp, and Drape tools you can build game-worthy spaces.

The second-to-last chapter is my favorite - I've been meaning to write something like this myself for a while - how to design a realistic-looking car in SketchUp. It's a fun project that requires some patience, done with a set of easily-downloadable car plans and some car photos. The resulting model is quite rewarding.

By the end of the book, you're walking around in your own game environment, complete with assets (buildings, cars, tools) and backgrounds and lights.

The appendix demonstrates an app I hadn't heard of - MakeHuman, used for, well, making humans. This is another tough task to accomplish in SketchUp alone, and every game (or stage or movie set) needs a bunch of those pesky humans in it.

My one complaint (if that's the right word) about Robin's first book was that its black and white graphics didn't always convey very well. This new book is also printed in grayscale (I didn't see the e-book but I assume it's in color). But the pictures look much better in this new book - even in grayscale everything is crisp and easy to identify.

If you're thinking of trying your hand designing games or film sets, this book is a great place to start. I know a lot of teenagers who would go nuts trying out the book's projects. I imagine that someone who becomes really proficient in the applications shown in Robin's book would be well on their way to a cool career.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun read for anyone interested or involved in 3D/gaming Jan. 30 2012
By SAM - Published on
Overall this a fantastic book to have in the 3D section your library. Beginners will find this book most useful as it will get you up and running with the tools you need to begin your journey with 3D & gaming, but even experienced pros will find SketchUp a very useful tool in rapid prototyping; particularly since you can import sketchUp models into programs like 3ds Max.

I like how author grabs your attention with his passion for the subject that really comes through in every chapter and makes it a fun read. It lays out what you can -and can't- accomplish with SketchUp and just how relevant this free tool can be to a 3D artist whether a professional or a hobbyist. The book is refreshingly honest about such a complex subject as 3D asset creation.

You'll get hands on experience though practical exercises that are easy to follow and encourage adding your own personal style as opposed to cut and dry recipe examples. These examples are great jumping off points that allow you to practice techniques used throughout the book. I like how each exercise ends with a challenge to push you to take the exercise further.

My favorite aspect of this book is how it focus exclusively on FREE tools available that allow anyone to set up a 3D development environment. Sketch-Up, Google Warehouse, Gimp (Photoshop alternative), CGtextures, Unity3D, Meshalb - all the tools necessary to create AAA quality game assets or any interactive experience. What's exciting about this is that any with curiosity can jump in.

The modeling exercises start with creating simple but useful game objects and introduce a repeatable work flow: researching real-world objects, preparing textures for game engines, modeling and texturing objects, and finally importing them into a game engine.

Building on the techniques learned in the early exercises, a couple of great advanced modeling exercises are also included. What's awesome about this is you'll see the secret the pros use to create insanely complicated models (hint:reference pics and time). Using the same techniques on a different scale, you'll create your own city block, and import that into Unity3D. With a few adjustments, you'll have a first-person game-environment to explore and you can post it online for others to explore. (now go make games :)

If nothing else it's a refreshing read for anyone interesting in 3D because the author's passion for the subject comes though and surely will inspire (or re-inspire) the like-minded.

If you enjoyed this book and want to push further into creating games I can recommend some other great titles that I've read that you will find interesting

- Unity Game Development Essentials (Packt publishing)
- Unity Game Development by Example (Packt publishing)
- Unity 3 Game Development Hotshot (Packt publishing)
- 3D Game Art for the iPhone with Unity (Focal Press)
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Sketchup Companion Feb. 19 2012
By R. Sullivan - Published on
An excellent book relating to 3d modeling for games. Although, one thing I didn't care for is how the author proclaims how money can be made selling models on sites such as turbosquid. I believe many (most?) people who purchase models on those sites created with SketchUp will likely leave negative reviews, as the SketchUp models tend to be too simple for people to be happy with. Other than that, a great book. I'm quite happy with my purchase.
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly What the Title Says! Feb. 18 2012
By F. Kahl - Published on
Google SketchUp for Game Design is exactly what the title says: A Beginner's Guide to creating navigable 3D gaming environments. The specific process this book focuses on is to create models in Google SketchUp, then bring those models into Unity to create walkthrough environments. The audience for this book is anyone who is interested in creating 3D walkthroughs in UNITY, which can be published to the web, using the unity player. Its easy to follow for anyone with or without experience with either tool. I could see this book applying to budding game designers, architects, artists, or anyone interested in creating 3D environments.

This book is broken up into chapters that break it down into easy to follow steps to create models including terrain, buildings, cars, and objects including palettes, barrel, wrench, etc. They cover modeling from photos, texturing, optimizing the model and more. The car modeling chapter, in particular, is a great technique. There's also lots of references for where to get free textures and models on the web, for you to use if you don't want to model them yourself. Once the models are created, they are imported into Unity. The author goes step by step to teach you how to create walk-arounds in the model, and you're off!

Its pretty amazing how far all this technology has come, because pretty much anyone from my mom to my son could pick up this book and start making their own 3D environments, using freely available software. I'd be really interested to use this as a high school class curriculum and see what kids could make. So for anyone wanting to create 3D walkthrough spaces, I highly recommend checking this book out. It cuts out the learning curve and gets you creating cool stuff fast!
5.0 out of 5 stars A complete game level environment from scratch Feb. 15 2012
By John Moritz - Published on
Packt Publishing offered this book for me to review (My first) and it was the best decision I could have made. I have taught high school and middle school technology for years and about a year ago started teaching Sketchup as part of units on design and architecture. At about the same time we started a technology club full of students that want to make their own games. All year we have been following the Unity FPS tutorials. We only have the free versions of software so integrating the 2 has been near impossible with fragments of advice all over the net. Then this book came along.

If the cover is ever an indication of what you will learn, it's this one. When I finished the book, I had completed a detailed and realistic game environment and had it working in Unity. Along the way I learned how to model and texture objects properly for a game environment.

The chapter on terrain modeling and texturing was amazing. It's hard to explain, but the author presents an easy system that uses a combination of plans, texturing, and modeling that brings everything together into a finely detailed terrain. It's a system that can be used over and over to quickly create high quality environments for Unity.

The rest of the book covers all the eye candy. Fences, buildings, barrels, etc. Then there is the car. I can't tell you how many times my students have asked me how to model a car. It's every students dream to be able to model their favorite sports car and this book shows you how.

If you are looking for one source with the details on how to put a complete game level together from start to finish, this is the book for you.
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