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My interest in making custom scenery started the day I was working with TexMod and wanted to re-texture some balloons for use in my park. I couldn’t get the texture to look 3-D on the balloon shape I was editing in Photoshop and I believed putting a texture on an actual 3-D shape in a 3-D modeller and taking a screenshot of that to use as a balloon texture would be the way to go.

Over the years I had thought I’d eventually get around to making custom content and I had collected lots of add-ons, tutorials and web links together to go with my copy of Blender. Blender has a steep learning curve (I'd used it briefly before), I had heard how much easier it was to learn SketchUp, and I had a copy of SketchUp 2008 handy so I decided that because I only wanted to make one shape and I wanted to apply one texture to that shape that I’d just this once go with SketchUp. After all, I could always switch over to Blender later when I got serious about 3-D modelling.

I don’t recall my first sessions with SketchUp being much easier than my first sessions with Blender but eventually I was able to make some simple flat shapes with the circle, polygon, and rectangle tools. The longer this went on the more I considered how much more challenging it would be to get into Blender after tooling around in SketchUp. By the time I got a 3-D shape made I was convinced SketchUp was indeed easier to use because I remembered more of what I had done at that stage in SketchUp than I did when I was at that point in Blender.

After gaining experience in using SketchUp I put together an exported image approximating the sort of balloon shape and texture that I would have liked to have come up with at the time two years prior when I started with SketchUp. In the Summer of 2016 when I opened SketchUp to begin I was anticipating that to make this balloon should take no more than about an hour.

My Adventures In SketchUp: A Brief Account - Summer 2016 - Huge Dreams of Balloon Making, Image 01

There was a huge difference between what I wanted to do in SketchUp and what it was that I could actually do. After I struggled to draw my first few flat shapes I managed to understand the follow-me tool. In a few hours I came up with something that looked more like this:

My Adventures In SketchUp: A Brief Account - Summer 2016 - The Reality Of Balloon Making, Image 02

Returning to my progress perhaps a week or so later, having abandoned any idea of making a balloon shape I wondered if I could come up with something I could make out of my very first 3-D SketchUp shape.

I had previously made up a little list with about 20 or so sets on it that I hoped to make one day. Checking over the list I recalled that I had wanted to make a set of balustrades, something that was inspired by the balustrades that come in Ralfvieh's Antik World. When I was done I took my balustrade results, put them with the other pieces I had made from my shape, and took a screenshot which became the first image I shared on the forums showing I was interested in creating CS.

My Adventures In SketchUp: A Brief Account - Summer 2016 - Something Useful Made, Image 03

The eight balustrades in that image totalled nearly 4,000 polys so I needed to learn how to reduce the polys in my work which included reducing the number of balusters to seven.

The next image I posted follows. It shows the balustrades with about half the original number of polys. Included in that image were additional pieces I had made. I had also applied textures to all the pieces.

My Adventures In SketchUp: A Brief Account - Fall 2016 - My Second CSO Forum Image, Image 04

Those balustrades were the start of my Decking, Stairs, and Balustrades set which is still in progress. As can be seen in the image, the set started out as balustrades with a few planters but those who have been following my progress know that the set has grown, and there are spin-offs into other sets.

After creating and texturing our models in SketchUp they then need to be imported into our game so in that way SketchUp and The Importer go hand in hand. At about the time I posted the first image of my balustrades on the forums was about the time I began to contact other members on ShyGuy’s World to ask for help on how to make custom content. I recalled sets I was impressed with and decided to PM the community members who had made them. The members that returned my messages were helpful but had forgotten much of the knowledge they had picked up while they were actively making CS – nearly all of them had stopped producing anything a year or two before I had contacted them. I recall there was only one who said he couldn’t help because he had used Blender. Gravquian sold me on SketchUp 2013 in addition to providing a link where I could download it directly.

Of course there's no way I'm getting into Blender at this point. I've since upgraded to a 64-bit machine on which there is my original installation of SketchUp 2013 in addition to a newer 64-bit version of SketchUp that enables me to have access to some of the newer SketchUp PlugIns and a 64-bit renderer.

Should anyone be considering which version of SketchUp they might like to use to make custom content, you should keep in mind that there are no RCT3 PlugIns avaiable for SketchUp 2017 onwards. Our convenient listing of SketchUp downloads can be found in our FAQ article here: SketchUp.

I received assistance in varying degrees with SketchUp but mostly with the Importer firstly from L-33, then CaptainEO, CoasterFreak53, Elizabeth, Gravquian, Old Spice, StationJimJr, and Wabigbear. There were many times I got stuck while learning and these members at different times helped me to progress. There is just no way I'd have ever learned how to Import without them. Many thanks guys and gals.


From scenery concepts, set alterations, and SketchUp observations ... my further SketchUp adventures are published and available here for your review:

  Intrepid: A Revolution In Airship Design

  Structure and Ride Supports Set

  CSO Study: GTT’s Hedge Maze

  Wonderland Themed Playing Card Railings

  Architectural Chess

  Mini Chess

  Planters 'n' Fountains Set