Creating 3D SVG graphs with google Sketchup7 on linux

Well, almost… have a look at the updates section.

What you will need: Google Sketchup7, Inkscape 0.46 or later, a PDF creator printer driver and Windows XP (dual boot or virtualized).

Inkscape is a very nice program for creating 2D diagrams, graphs and illustrations. I use it instead of Adobe Illustrator for making PDFs going directly into pdfLaTeX for my PhD thesis.

Here are some simple examples:


The Inkscape files can be downloaded here:

plug.svgz, breadboard.svgz

Creating perspectively correct 3D graphs is rather painful with Inkscape and there’s no tools for adding dimensions. I’m somewhat spoiled by having worked with professional CAD software like Autodesk Inventor 2008. Creating 3D objects with it is so simple, almost like working with putty in your hands. Unfortunately it is way too expensive for hobby users. There’s also TurboCAD, but still costs about 400 bucks. A few years ago they had a free 2D version, but it had a nasty problem with keeping correct dimensions and rounding values. I bought version 8 with 3D support back then, but never really used it. It also came with internet activation, which I just hate. Good open source 3D CAD programs that match Inventor just cannot be found (yet?).

Google Sketchup to the rescue! OK it’s not open source, but at least free and reasonable easy to use. Still there is no linux version yet. So I used the latest incarnation of VirtualBox (2.1.2) to run it. The previous versions were considerably faster, but I’m sure they will fix it soon. But hey, there is not export to SVG or any other vector format that could be imported to Inkscape. Finally I found DoroPDF, a free PDF creator that would give me PDFs with vector data and not just a pixel image. Others may work too, but I had to tweak the postscript settings a bit. PDF import in Inkscape is really good and simple. Just File -> Import. Open the PDF, select the page and it is done!


The Sketchup7 file block.skp and the Inkscape file block.svgz are availabe for download.

Here is my first 3D test in Sketchup. It was reasonably easy to do. It is just a mock-up of the wooden case I had made for my LED project. Not to scale, wrong dimensions, just for show.


The Sketchup7 file sketchup7_3D_test.skp and the Inkscape file sketchup7_3D_test.svgz are availabe for download.

“And from all of us here, happy painting and [your preferred deity] bless!”

Update 1: 08.03.2009:

As of wine-1.1.16-2.1, Sketchup7 actually runs on my openSUSE 11.0 system without using VirtualBox and Windows XP. The only remaining problem is that wine doesn’t see the kprint PDF creator :-(
So for printing PDF files and importing them into Inkscape, I still need to run it in a virtual machine.

Update 2: 16.03.2009:

Using wine wine-1.1.17-1.1 and some registry hacks, it is possible to print with KDE’s kprinter!

Install Sketchup7 and make sure it works and does not crash.

Now add the following to ./wine/system.reg

Then add this to ./wine/user.reg:

Then add this to ./wine/drive_c/windows/win.ini:

And then just print :-)

Some information was taken form here.

Update 3: 11.06.2010:

This worked until KDE 3.5.9 – I couldn’t make it work with KDE4 yet.

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