Sketchup is a 3D modeling and designing software that can be used on a desktop PC or via a web browser. One reason why the software is notable is due to its user-friendly interface.
Likewise, it is also a hub of different tools that makes working easier.
Here’s how Sketchup works:
- You sign up and activate your account by subscribing.
- Launch the software and pick a model template. Many built-in model templates are featured.
- Start designing
With Sketchup, you can design in 3D but still store the work in 2D for easier comprehension. Sketchup integrates with Trimble connect so you can store your works in the cloud and also work with others.
In addition, you can import or export CAD & IFC files to other 3D design software programs. Plus, Sketchup is officially available for Windows and Mac operating systems only.
Sketchup features a variety of pricing plans for different uses cases including:
For Personal Use
- Free Plan – $0
- Shop Plan – $199 per year
- Pro Plan – $299 per year
For Professional Use
- Shop Plan – $199 per year
- Pro Plan – $299 per year
- Studio Plan – $1199 per year
- Students Plan – $55 per year
- Educators Plan – $55 per year
Primary & Secondary School
- Schools Plan – Free (Needs Microsoft Education or G-Suite account)
- Pro Plan – Free (Needs state grant)
However, Sketchup’s Free and Shop plans are accessible only on the web. If you need to install the software on your PC, you have to opt for its Pro or Studio plans.
Unfortunately, Sketchup cannot meet all the needs of 3D designers. So, without further ado, let’s show you the 15 best Sketchup alternatives.
15 Best Sketchup Alternatives 2021
This is a cloud-powered 3D design software that supports CAD, CAE, and CAM files. With Fusion 360, you can sketch and model in different forms, including paramedic modeling, mesh modeling, direct modeling, freeform modeling, etc.
Like Sketchup, this software enables you to store designs in 2D, and with cloud rendering, you can create photo-realistic images.
However, Sketchup is accessible on the cloud and desktop while Fusion 360 works on the cloud; hence, you can’t use it without an internet connection.
Nevertheless, Fusion 360 is effortless to use even though it is cloud-based. As an Autodesk product, its support is top-notch, and it integrates easily with other Autodesk products.
Autodesk Fusion 360 pricing is straightforward with monthly, annual, and triennial options. they include:
- 1 Month Plan – $60 per month
- 1 Year Plan – $495 per year
- 3-Year Plan – $1,335 per year
Verdict: There are more subscription options on Sketchup, but Fusion 360’s 3-year plan is an ideal money-saver. Also, you get access to all features with any of the plans, unlike Sketchup.
From the description, you can decipher what this software focuses on, and that’s 3D designing with CAD (.dwg) files. It falls a tad short of Sketchup which supports CAD & IFC files amongst others.
However, this Sketchup alternative is more of a suite as it features multiple programs including the nanoCAD, nanoCAD Plus, nanoCAD Pro, nanoCAD 3Dscan, etc.
Its user interface is friendly, which makes this software ideal for beginners. The command set and reusable blocks featured further complement this.
With the DWG file support, you can share and use files created with nanoCAD with other CAD 3D designing software programs.
The primary nanoCAD software is free to use, but others are premium.
- NanoCAD – Free
- NanoCAD 3DScan – Custom pricing
- NanoCAD Construction – $260
- NanoCAD Mechanica – $300
- NanoCAD Pro – $290
- NanoCAD Plus – $180
Verdict: For beginners, this free software at no cost is a great option. It is more reliable than the Sketchup Free plan as it has fewer limitations. However, if you want other functionalities, paying for the separate software programs can be cumulatively expensive.
Here is a second software program from Autodesk that makes our list of the best Sketchup alternatives.
Autodesk Maya is used primarily for 3D animation, but it also works great for modeling, rendering, and simulation. The software features intuitive tools that can be used to make very realistic effects.
Some of these tools include Bifrost and Arnold. Bifrost is ideal for very stunning effects with its Graph Editor; there are ready-to-use 3D graphs to save you time. Arnold is perfect for seamless GPU and CPU rendering.
A win for Autodesk Maya against Sketchup is that the software is officially available for Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs. Additionally, Maya integrates with MotionBuilder, 3ds Max, and other Autodesk products just like Fusion 360.
Like Autodesk Fusion 360, Maya has monthly, annual, and triennial subscription options.
- Monthly Plan – $205 per month
- 1-Year Plan – $1,620 per year
- 3-Year Plan – $4,375
Verdict: Clearly, Autodesk Maya is a more expensive 3D design software than Sketchup.
Blender is a free Sketchup alternative. As a multi-functional and powerful 3D design software, you can use it for any form of 3D design. In fact, it enables modeling, animation, rendering, composition, motion tracking, and more.
Notably, Blender features digital sculpting tools with up to 20 different brushes and support for masking and dynamic topology.
A unique tool Blender feature is the Grease Pencil Object. With this tool, you can carry out freehand drawing in the 3D space. If you are skilled in 2D, you will find Blender easy to use because it facilitates 2D and 3D designing.
Apart from being free to use, it is also open-source, unlike Sketchup. So, you can further improve it by modifying its source code. Furthermore, Sketchup is limited to Windows and Mac while Blender extends its support to Linux and Steam.
Verdict: As a free to use software, you can save money with Blender. This gives it a considerable edge over Sketchup, considering its multiple features.
From Foundry, we have the Modo Creative 3D software – a noteworthy Sketchup alternative. It can be used for 3D modeling, rendering, and texturing.
For modeling, Modo features MeshFusion Boolean Tools which enables a very flexible modeling operation. Also among the tools are options for retopology and sculpting.
Modo will work very well for UV creation as it supports UDIM workflows. It also supports different shading systems, and there are several realistic materials in the software library you can use; all you have to do is drag and drop.
The Modo pricing scheme is structured like Sketchup.
- Modo Perpetual – $1,888 for lifetime
- Modo Maintenance – $419 per year
- Modo Subscription – $62 per month ($629 per year)
For Business & Enterprise
- Custom pricing
- First Year Free – Only for first-year university students
- Classroom License – Custom pricing
Verdict: The perpetual plan gives Modo a big advantage over Sketchup, although the yearly and monthly options are relatively expensive.
6. Curvy 3D
Curvy 3D is a 3D designing software that was developed basically for sculpting. It is an innovative software that makes 3D drawing not just simple, but also fast.
Some of its features aside sculpting include sketch-based modeling, mesh editing, volumetric merge, and UV. Likewise, it integrates with Project Dogwaffle.
A fallback with the Curvy 3D software is that it is officially available for Windows compared to Sketchup which supports both Windows and Mac Operating Systems.
This software is recommended as a Sketchup alternative for beginners. If you are already an advanced 3D designer, you can do less with Curvy 3D; hence, you are better off with other Sketchup alternatives.
To use Curvy 3D, you don’t have to pay for a monthly or yearly subscription like it is with Sketchup. You only pay a one-time amount to purchase the software. The cost is $123.75, but the developers are currently running a 25 percent discount that reduces the price to about $99.
Verdict: Curvy 3D is very affordable, a lot cheaper than Sketchup; however, Sketchup has more 3D features than Curvy 3D.
If you are switching from Sketchup because you need a specific 2D design software, LibreCAD is a recommended option to use.
Though it is a 2D based software, it can also be used for 3D modeling by adjusting the source code as the software is open source. In fact, LibreCAD’s source code is on GitHub.
Also, it is a CAD program so the created files can work on other CAD software programs, even if 3D based. Sketchup supports up to 11 languages, but LibreCAD beats that with support for more than 30 languages.
You don’t have to pay to use LibreCAD as the software is available free. Also, the software is officially available for Windows & Mac. Also, Linux users can access only some versions.
Verdict: Compared to Sketchup, LibreCAD is ideal because it is free. However, it is primarily used for 2D modeling though it can be adjusted to 3D.
Another best Sketchup alternative is Rhino. With a coordinated user interface and construction aids, Rhino is one of the easiest-to-use 3D designing software programs.
Some of the things you can do with Rhino include modeling, editing, 3D capture, rendering, and analysis. There are Mesh tools and also developer tools if you wish to contribute to its development.
Rhino might not beat Sketchup in terms of in-depth functions and overall features, but it is a reliable and versatile 3D modeling software. The software, like Sketchup, is available for Windows and Mac but also available for iOS.
Here are the pricing options featured on Rhino for the most recent version (Rhino 6):
For Commercial Use
- Single User – $995
- Upgrade – $495
- Bundle (Rhino & Flamingo) – $1,295
Note: Flamingo is a separate 3D software from the developers of Rhino.
- Single User – $195
- Upgrade – $95
- Academic Rhino Proctor – $285 per year
- 30 Users – $975
- Upgrade – $295
Verdict: Rhino payments are for a lifetime while Sketchup takes a yearly subscription, so Rhino is more affordable.
Art of Illusion is a simple and easy-to-use 3D rendering and modeling software program.
With the Art of Illusion software, you can make skeleton-based animations or still images. Besides, it incorporates subdivision modeling tools such as Object Editor and Procedural Texture Editor.
Likewise, it supports significant plugins such as the ImageFilter, TextureMapping, Material Mapping, and Translator plugins.
Art of Illusion beats Sketchup in terms of compatibility. The software can be downloaded and used on Windows, Linux, Mac, and Unix. Furthermore, the source code is readily accessible because it is open-source software.
No payment is required to make use of Art of illusion; the software can be downloaded for free with a GNU license.
Verdict: Like most 3D software discussed herein, Art of illusion is free and thus cheaper than Sketchup. However, the software is not as stable as Sketchup, and the support is poor.
10. Cheetah 3D
If you are looking for a Sketchup alternative for Macs, Cheetah 3D is a good option.
This software works for 3D modeling, character animation, rendering, UV unwrapping, and texture painting. It is a software built for Mac only; there’s no version for Windows or Linux PCs.
It has a user-friendly and customizable layout. Moreover, it supports drag and drop, multi-object selection, and you can use tags to assign special features.
Cheetah 3D features NGon-Booleans and has a large range of polygon tools and parametric polygon objects. For rendering, there is a fully integrated ray-tracer with HDRI backgrounds. It also works for mapping and texture painting is carried out via Live OpenGL.
To use Cheetah 3D, you have to purchase a user license.
- Single User – $99
- Upgrade – $49
Verdict: Looking at the pricing, it’s clear that Cheetah3D is cost-friendly compared to Sketchup. The software is ideal for Mac users, but not an option for Windows users.
TurboCAD is a software for 2D drafting and 3D modeling, so it is ideal for both beginners and professionals. It features a customizable user interface, and it is easy to use thanks to its featured alignment aids.
Some of the tools featured on TurboCAD include drawing tools, dimension tools, modification tools, scaling tools, etc. You can carry out surface modeling with this software, and the Quick Pull tool makes it even easier.
Nevertheless, this Sketchup alternative is available for Windows, Mac, and also mobile devices.
There’s a wide range of pricing plans featured on TurboCAD, which include:
- TurboCAD Platinum – $1,499.99
- TurboCAD Professional Bundle – $1,099.99
- TurboCAD Deluxe Bundle – $299.99
- TurboCAD Professional Annual – $399.99 per year
- TurboCAD Platinum Annual – $499.99 per year
- TurboCAD Professional – $999.99
- TurboCAD Deluxe – $199.99
- TurboCAD Designer – $59.99
- TurboCAD Platinum Bundle – $1,599.99
Verdict: TurboCAD has reliable features, and it is suitable for 3D modeling, just like Sketchup. Also, you have more pricing options with TurboCAD, but the prices are higher compared to Sketchup.
The FreeCAD software is described as a 3D parametric modeler, and it is an open-source software.
Its featured parametric modeling function is ideal for modeling, so you can edit the designs by simply changing parameters from the model history. Sketchup doesn’t support this, but instead, it uses dynamic components.
Furthermore, FreeCAD uses more file formats than Sketchup with support for OBJ, DXF, SVG, STL, STEP, and IGES. A unique FreeCAD feature is the robot simulation module for easy robot movements and robot 3D modeling.
You can also issue Python commands within the software environment via the built-in Python console. From the description “FreeCAD” you can decipher that this software is free to use. Hence, you can use it on Windows, Mac, and Linux amongst other operating systems.
Verdict: FreeCAD is one of the best Sketchup alternatives because it is free and has a range of important features.
3DCoat is a Sketchup alternative that is suitable for easy texturing, digital sculpting, ultimate retopo tools, and fast UV mapping.
The software works for physically based rendering with up to 16k texture size. There are several blending methods with multiple paint layers. Retopology is comfortable with 3DCoat as the software has pre-defined edge loops and manual retopo tools.
It supports Operating Systems like Windows, Mac, and Linux. Interestingly, 3DCoat has more support for integrations than Sketchup. Through the app links, you can connect this software with several others, including Blender, Cinema4D, Unity 3D, Modo, Maya, 3dsMax, and many more.
Here are the pricing plans for 3DCoat licenses:
- Professional License – $379 ($280 for an upgrade from Amateur License)
- Amateur License – $99
- 3DCprinting License – $49
- Floating License – $568 ($189 for an upgrade from Professional License)
Verdict: Support for more integration gives 3DCoat an upper edge above Sketchup. Not to mention, its pricing plans are affordable, considering they are one-time payments.
14. Sweet Home 3D
Want a Sketchup alternative for drawing house plans? Sweet Home 3D is a 3D drawing software for interior and architectural designs. It allows you to customize house plans and designs with varieties of textures and furniture pieces.
The software uses a drag and drop system for arranging designs which makes it simple-to-use. With light controls and effects, you can create photorealistic videos and images.
Supported operating systems for Sweet Home 3D include Windows, Mac, Solaris, and Linux; more OS support than Sketchup. Also, like Sketchup, it is accessible via a web browser.
Sweet Home 3D is available for free with about 100 furniture pieces and 26 textures. However, there’s also a paid version of the software with more furniture pieces and textures which can be purchased from the Amazon app store. This paid version costs $14.99.
Verdict: Though both are 3D software programs, Sketchup and Sweet Home 3D are relatively different in usage. Sweet Home 3D is a more affordable option, but it is limited to interior home designing.
Our list of the best Sketchup alternatives will not be complete without Shapr3D. In every way, it is a 3D modeling mobile app, unlike Sketchup.
The app was developed to work primarily with iOS, specifically with the Apple iPad. It features a responsive modeling user interface and works seamlessly with the Apple pencil.
There are transformation tools, boolean commands, snaps, and other items. It supports CAD, OBJ, STL, and other files, so you can continue designing on PC with 3D programs that support CAD files.
Shapr3D features only two pricing options:
- Basic Plan – Free
- Pro Plan – $25 per month ($240 month for annual payment)
Verdict: With simple and affordable pricing, Shapr3D is cost-friendly but doesn’t compare to Sketchup as both platforms are ideal for different device platforms.
Wrap Up – Best Sketchup Alternatives
Listed above are the 15 best Sketchup alternatives.
Out of the list, Fusion 360 from Autodesk stands out as the most recommended. When you look at its features, both platforms are not too dissimilar. But, Fusion 360 works faster as it is cloud-powered, and it is relatively more comfortable to use.
Also, being an Autodesk product, it gives room for extra functionalities when used with other Autodesk products. The last and most obvious reason is that Fusion 360 is more affordable, although pricing plans vary from time to time.