Here are links to online tools, resources and examples.


The basic versions of these software tools and services are free to access or download and use:

  • The Google Earth service to display aerial views of places: wiki – site
  • Trimble (previously Google) Sketchup tool for composing 3D models: wiki – site – support forum
    If you are studying or teaching, you may be eligible for an Educational Licence to SketchUp Pro. resellersUK
  • Google’s SketchUp Viewer for viewing 3D models: site – video
  • Trimble’s 3D Warehouse service for storing 3D models: wiki – site – forum
  • Google Maps with Street View (e.g. try SG6 3DE, “More”, “Street View”): wiki – map – site
  • Google Earth for Mobile devices (Android & iOS): site – video
  • SketchUp Components in the 3D Warehouse: site

For more information, add-ins, enterprise (“Pro”) versions and other 3D software, visit:

  • The SketchUp Materials Library: here
  • SketchUp 3D Trees collection site (charged for)
  • A general list of 3D modelling software: wiki
  • Ways of sharing your models from SketchUp: article
  • Your World in 3D – a geo-modelling community: site
  • Google Building Maker tool for collaging 3D models: wiki – site
  • Trimble/Google SketchUp Pro version offers interoperability etc.:  site
  • Google Earth Pro service: 7-day free trial, webinar schedule
  • IES, EnergyPlus and GreenspaceLive sustainability plug-ins for Trimble/Google SketchUp: here
  • Google’s scheme of grants to provide enterprise versions of its software products to educational and non-profit organisations: here


There are guides, videos and courses in YouTube and elsewhere online, such as:

The 3D_lgc project celebrates initiatives to improve skills for learning, teaching, careers and hobbies, such as:

  • Google for Students blog and Google Apps for Education (USA-based) here
  • AJ Booker for SketchUP Suite etc., in Nottingham, providing tools, training and a free guide for teachers about to what SketchUp can and can’t do.
  • Digital Design and Technology web site for schools, “… to develop a coherent support programme for teachers …”.
  • NextGenSkills “for the UK’s education system to equip the next generation with the knowledge needed to grow this country’s digital, creative and high-tech economy.”
  • Design8 who provide products, services and courses in 3D Google Earth, SketchUp and other design software; based at Tiel in the Netherlands.
  • SketchUcation including The Daily CatchUp, based in Co. Clare in Ireland.

University courses

You can view an article by The Independent as to why you should study Animation.
Here are some of the academic courses in the UK that specialise in digital 3D design:

Examples of 3D models and visualisations

  • The web site of 3Dlinks in Canada has many 3D resources including software tools, free 3D objects, a gallery with animations etc. web site
  • The creative agency Harmony Internet based in Biggleswade has agreed to  match fund our main prize, the Google Nexus 7 tablet: web site – portfolio.
  • Mike Tanti Design – associated with Digswell Arts Trust – runs one-day SketchUp training at six levels, of which levels 1 to 3 are essential here: workshops and gallery
  • Virtual Viewing based in Milton Keynes. One of the company’s services is 3d modelling of products, retail environments and built environments, from single buildings to entire cities! web site and portfolio

Public facilities for 3D modelling

If you have access to the computers at a school, college or university, you may find that they have Google SketchUp installed and ready to use.

The Hertfordshire Library service does not include the use of SketchUp but you may access some of the tools listed above and more via an Internet browser as follows:

  • Taking computer taster sessions. There is a moderate charge for this but you may be eligible for the fee to be waived – see the leaflet.
  • Downloading of SketchUp and other software to a memory stick to install on another PC.
  • Free use of Google Earth3D Warehouse, Street View and video tutorials.
  • Visiting English Heritage’s site Images of England to search for 2D photographs of listed buildings, of which there are many in Letchworth; also British Listed Buildings.

Commercial sources of 3D artwork

These resell artists’ 3D models and components such as surface textures:

Historical collections

Many web sites contain historical images of Letchworth and environs. From the rainy day on which it was founded in 1903, this town has been intensively described, mythologised, mapped, illustrated, photographed and filmed! Note that permission may be needed for the use of the historical images.

  • Images and films of many kinds are held in the collections of the First Garden City Heritage Museum: web site.
  • Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS): web site.
  • Historical postcards in Margaret Pierce’s collection, 1905 to 1960s c/o Letchworth Garden City Society’s web site.

History of 3D software

For the origins of 2D & 3D computer aided design (CAD) software, see for instance:

  • The CADAZZ history to 2004 here.
  • The History section of CADbuilt Inc.’s CAD Drafting/Crafting and Design page here.
  • The Wikipedia article on ‪3D data acquisition and object reconstruction‬ here.
  • The section on discontinued, historic software in the article about 3D computer graphics software here.

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  5. ufo 3d says:

    Awesome article!

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