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SketchUp construction docs vs Archicad

JohnJay
Expert
This is simultaneously the best and worst place to ask this question but I'm sure lots of you have experience with SketchUp and so can make a useful comparison vs Archicad.

I used to work in a small design studio and although it wasn't my primary capacity I did use AC13 on and off for a few years and more recently AC20 but only for a few months, so I know the pros and cons of using Archicad, for my use at least. I'm currently trialling 23 but the workflow remains similar in AC even since v13.

I'm now working freelance so need to make a choice - continue to use Archicad or switch to SketchUp. I don't really have any experience with SketchUp and am just starting to learn of its strengths and weaknesses.

So to my questions:

1. Does AC Solo support Twinmotion or is Twinmotion only available in Full AC?

2.mHow do those of you that use both SU and AC think they compare from a modelling POV? I mainly work with residential house/garden/pool/outdoor living design. Window/door/stair/roof builders are not natively available in SU but it looks like there are plugins or objects for all of these? Does SU fall short of AC anywhere in the modelling department?

I intend on trying out Twinmotion as looks perfect for my use. TM is also available for SU though so of little consequence to the choice between AC and SU.

3. Most importantly then, how does SU compare to AC for construction docs? It looks like this is quite a manual and clunky process in SU? If that's the case then my decision is already made. What I am keen to find out is if there are any good plugins that automate this part of the process to a level approaching the integration in AC?

I have installed the SU trial and have started a small project from start to finish to see for myself but would really like to hear your opinions as I'm sure there will be useful and even essential plugins that I will miss.

Thanks
AC27 | i7990x | RTX4070 | W10
17 REPLIES 17
JohnJay
Expert
There are other considerations too, such as the 'little' (but essential once you get used to them) utilities such as Trace reference, Model view options,, graphic overrides, and the tracker palette just to name a few...

The more I think about this the more I think it's a no brainer and I should stick with AC and add Twinmotion.

I suppose the main question should be - are there any reasons why I would switch from AC to SU? I already use MODO and Octane for advanced modelling, texturing, shading and rendering so my main use for AC or SU would be for the basic house/garden model and for conceptual sketch line style renders. SU seems to have the edge there but I'm comfortable post processing and combining AC sketch lines with other renders and creating the style I want.
AC27 | i7990x | RTX4070 | W10
JohnJay
Expert
Then I read threads like this one:

https://archicad-talk.graphisoft.com/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=70161&start=20

lots of disgruntled small practice users and reports that Twinmotion isn't very stable...
AC27 | i7990x | RTX4070 | W10
JohnJay
Expert
Ultimately though, it seems that SU is just a bit too clunky in the construction docs dept, and unless things have improved or there are plugins that help, this is certainly the kind of workflow that I'd like to avoid. Seems like too much opportunity for human error and in any case a really dull and boring workflow - way too much time spent on technicalities and not enough on the creative side, i.e. designing.

This guy is reportedly one of the SU gurus and the workflow is not one that I'd be keen on adopting, and this is just for line weights... seems like symbols, hatches etc are even more clunky.



Still keen on hearing your opinions though.
AC27 | i7990x | RTX4070 | W10
jl_lt
Mentor
Hi! Quoting mr.James Murray, from onland.info site, a great place to learn conceptual and practical material about using Archicad: "SketchUp is a bad software that you should not use".

But in all seriuosness, you should evaluate what you want as a practice and then decide. Are you a more conceptual and vanguardist practice or are you more construction minded with down to earth design? If it's the former, SketchUp might be good for You (although i would use rhino better), if it's the latter, archicad will serve You better although You can also get very conceptual in archicad. If you do a lot of exterior work You might also want to take a look at Vectorworks, a step brother of Archicad.
If still in doubt, i recommend reading Mr. shoegnomes excelent post about what kind of practice You are or want to be. You can find it here:

http://www.shoegnome.com/2013/03/14/what-kind-of-architect-are-you/

Are You going to do only the schematic design and then delegate construction docs to someone else or are You doing all the work all the way? If it's the former, SketchUp might be good, if it's the latter, then archicad is a no brainer (you need put good effort into your archicad template though). You also have to take into account that importanting and exporting between these two softwares (AR and SU) is really good, so you can actually use both in diferent design stages.

Do You need super realistic rendering? Then SketchUp might be good because it has vray conection. If not, You can get great results within archicad or with twinmotion (which some people here seem to complain about, but ive had no problems with it and think that its almost a miracle of technology specially the 2020 version).

Do You need an integrated solution for 3d modelling and doing your architectural plans, sections, elevations and quantity take offs almost automatically? SketchUp has plugin solutions for this, but as You Will find in many forums, even it's users say it's a clunky and time consuming process and need really good equipement, but You can get spectacular results with good effort. Meanwhile, archicad can fly even in 5 year old computers.

finally, do You plan to remain a one man show or do You want to collaborate with other people and eventually grow? If it's the case, archicad will set You up for this.

Best of lucks in your desicion! but i suspect You already know the answer
JohnJay wrote:
Ultimately though, it seems that SU is just a bit too clunky in the construction docs dept, and unless things have improved or there are plugins that help,
I don't find the need to use Sketchup with Archicad, but there are a number of fairly amazing extensions that could help, if you wanted to go in the Sketchup direction. PlusSpec, Roof Nui, Medeek Trusses, and others do pretty amazing things, but my sense is that you really need a bunch of them. However, I certainly drool over the construction doc's that Nick Sonder puts together. https://sketchupbook.com/ At some point in the size of the model, things start to work like molasses, though I'm not sure where that is. I like that with AC I don't really have to worry about this.
Richard
--------------------------
Richard Morrison, Architect-Interior Designer
AC26 (since AC6.0), Win10
JohnJay
Expert
hmmmm... I downloaded a model from the 3DWarehouse so I could try creating some plans and elevations (this one: https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/model/ba82fb25-7c79-44c8-ab62-ca5ae8304431/container-house).

It's only around 50k polys so not very heavy at all, yet cutting the model to create a simple section cut was much slower than I expected it to be (my PC's not exactly cutting edge but I do have a 6 core i7, a GTX 1070 and 48gb RAM). In MODO 50k polys are nothing, and even AC handles them with little effort.

Tried to import the scene into AC to test the SKP import but that was a disaster too - lots of GUI flickering and refreshing and when it ended nothing was imported.

So, is it normal that SU is so slow with such a simple model or is it my system or me that's doing something wrong or missing something?

Does SU import into AC work well?
AC27 | i7990x | RTX4070 | W10
JohnJay
Expert
@ jl_lt - i'm leaning towards AC right now but only because of the performance issues stated above.

There are also lots of little things that only become apparent once you start modelling and then try to adjust the model.

e.g. changing wall thickness is a lot easier in AC. The wall thickness is always clearly displayed so it's easy to check and confirm. Similar story with roofs - you set the pitch and can then adjust edges know that the pitch it always the same. The pitch is always displayed so there's less chance of changing the pitch by mistake.

There are lots of these instances like this and all together I think they make a big difference.

Maybe I just need to play with SU a bit more but so far I don't get what all the fuss is about.
AC27 | i7990x | RTX4070 | W10
DGSketcher
Legend
I loved SU as a basic architectural modeller, especially its ability to create blocks & modules, and thought it might work on some smaller projects. Unfortunately It does lack dimensional surety of thickness and angles as already mentioned. I last tried it around 3-4 years ago and things may have improved, but for me it unravelled very quickly as soon as I started documentation and trying to export to collaborate. I ended up having to redo the scheme in AC.
Apple iMac Intel i9 / macOS Sonoma / AC27UKI (most recent builds.. if they work)
Anonymous
Not applicable
While there are definitely some very talented people (eg. Nick Sonder) doing some incredible things in SketchUp, it really lacks some basic things which a drawing set requires such as Schedules. The number of posts on the SketchUp forums complaining about the slowness of Layout were was a deal killer for me when I was pondering about which software to use. Archicad has a lot of automation. SketchUp has none. There are a number of plugins for SketchUp which help, but bottom line is that there is a lot of fix up work when you get to changes. SketchUp is very useful for quick mockups but for the documents, not so great.

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