How to Convert a SketchUp File to a 3D Studio Max File

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Google's SketchUp software created a new standard in 3D modeling programs when it was released in 2000. Competing with advanced software throughout the graphic design and architecture industries, SketchUp quickly became a tool of choice for many creative professionals due to its ease of use, and more importantly, it's price. SketchUp comes in two versions, including one that is entirely free. Yet, complex graphics works often requires integration between programs. 3D Studio Max offers features that extend a designer's creative options. Sharing files between these two programs is a powerful way to combine their strengths.

Step by step.

1 ) Buy the full professional version of Google's SketchUp software. Compared to other programs, even this version is inexpensive. As of January 2010, the cost was $95. For serious creative artists who plan to convert SketchUp files into 3D Studio Max, this upgrade is essential. The Pro version opens a wide range of advanced features, including the ability to export files directly in the 3D Studio Max format.

2 ) Confirm that all the front faces on your SketchUp models are white. The program differentiates between front and back sides by the colors white and purple. Only front faces transfer to 3D Studio Max, so save time by preparing the model first, if necessary.

3 ) Export the SketchUp model in a .3ds format from the SketchUp menu. There are two key options in this export dialog. One technique is to export the model "By material" which separates the model into its different material layers. In 3D Studio Max, this will import as multiple integrated objects. This option gives the user more control after the conversion, but may hog computer resources and slow down the 3D Studio Max program. The other option is to export with "Single object". This is the quickest method for conversion, but limits the creative options after the file leaves SketchUp.

4 ) Import the .3ds from SketchUp directly into 3D Studio Max via its "File | Import" menu. Usually the object is added to an existing project, so the "merge" option will be selected during this process. Other preferences may be set as well, including an options to convert units, as well as control over animation length. These will vary depending on the nature of the project and the user's work flow.

5 ) Manipulate the object in 3D Studio Max as you would any other 3D models, and enjoy the range of features the program adds to your SketchUp creation.


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