At the first glance, Shapr may seem similar to SketchUp, but actually, it is a totally different product. This is due to a simple reason: the underlying technologies are completely different because Shapr is a so-called solid modeling CAD system, while SketchUp is a mesh modeler. Comparing SketchUp and Shapr is comparing oranges and apples - both tools have benefits and drawbacks. Benefits of Shapr include accuracy, output quality, and compatibility.
Shapr is designed to be extremely accurate. Models created in Shapr are accurate to 10 decimal digits. SketchUp was not designed to be accurate, for example, circles are actually n-sided polygons. In Shapr, every body has an extremely accurate representation. You can think of a SketchUp file as a “raster image” and a Shapr workspace as a “vector graphical image”.
Anything you make in Shapr is guaranteed to be watertight, solid, and manufacturable. The underlying technology makes sure, that you won’t end up with things like self-intersecting surfaces. This means that anything you made in Shapr, can be directly exported for manufacturing (including CNC milling, injection molding, 3D printing etc.) without any post-processing. In SketchUp, you can easily end up with bad models, that require all kind of post-processing magic in order to get a physically realizable model.
Following the vector-raster analog, you can easily go from a vector graphical image to a raster image, however, the other direction can be problematic, or even impossible. In our case, this means, that Shapr can export high-quality CAD models, that can be imported and post-processed in any CAD system (find a list of compatible systems following this link), and on the top of that, compatibility is guaranteed with most CAD systems, since Shapr is based on the same engine (Parasolid) as those systems.
However, Shapr can also export mesh data ( “raster image”), that can be imported to SketchUp or any other 3D graphics systems. Compatibility is not limited to exporting high-quality CAD data from Shapr, but you can also import and edit any model that was created in any other 3D modeling tool - just like if it was created in Shapr. After editing the model, you can push back your changes to your other modeling tool. This is something that could not be done in SketchUp.
Once you start using Shapr, you will notice, that a lot of things (that may have similar names in SketchUp) are working differently, and this can be confusing. But don’t worry, you can catch up in half a day. The differences are not just random product decisions, but the fundamental characteristics of solid and mesh modeling. Here are a few things that you may find surprising or confusing at the first sight.
Sketches and constraints
In Shapr - like in most solid modeling tools - you start with planar sketches, with setting up all kind of dimensions and relationships between those curves and then using those sketches to create 3D bodies with different tools, like the Extrude, Sweep or Loft tool. Sketches and constraints are an incredibly powerful way to define 2D shapes, but completely different from the way you would do something similar in SketchUp. Unlike SketchUp, your sketches will always lay on a plane. You can learn more about sketching in Shapr3D following this link.
In SketchUp, you can easily move and rotate any face. You can do something similar in Shapr, but what happens under the hood is completely different. And it can be surprising for a SketchUp user. Besides deep technical reasons, there is a very good reason for this: in Shapr, it is guaranteed to always get solid models, thus any transform operation that would lead to an invalid body will fail. Also, in Shapr, the way how a body of the transformed face responding to such changes are completely different compared to SketchUp. For example, Shapr understands if a face is a blended face between two faces, and will do all kind of modeling magic to maintain this property during different operations.
In short: in Shapr if you move a face, the model is adjusted to remain watertight. Shapr3D will not create invalid bodies, unlike SketchUp.
You can learn more about transformations in Shapr3D following this link.
Pushing and pulling
In Shapr, push and pull operations work completely differently. You can select any kind of shape, including a face of a body, an edge of a body, a sketch, or a closed sketch, and push or pull them. Depending on what you are dragging, Shapr will perform different operations. To perform a push/pull operation, select an object with your Apple Pencil, and start dragging it.
- Faces: dragging a face of a solid body can perform two different operations. If you drag a blended face, it will change the radius of the blend. If you drag any other face, it will perform an offset operation.
- Edges: dragging an edge of a solid body can perform two different operations. Pushing an edge will apply a fillet on it, pulling it will chamfer the edge.
- Closed sketches: pushing or pulling a closed sketch will perform an extrude operation. If the sketch filling lays on a face of a planar body, it will also perform a cut or fuse operation: pushing it in the body will cut the extrusion from the body, pulling it out will fuse the extrusion with the body. In those rare occasions when this behavior does not do what you want, you can use the dedicated Extrude tool from the Tools menu, that also allows you to define taper/draft angles for an extrusion.
- Sketches: dragging a sketch by its control points will move it on its plane.
Although the basic interaction (just Pencil + touch) is very powerful, and it will cover a significant portion of your workflow, you will access many features using Tools. Tools are essentially modifiers, that can be used to apply all kind of modifications on your bodies, or to create new bodies.
To create and edit models accurately, Shapr provides so-called construction geometries. These are basically geometries (lines, planes, and points), that can be created in different ways, in order to help you position your geometry. When you are not sure how to position a body properly using the transformation tools, you will most likely have to create some kind of construction geometry.
The most important thing for SketchUp users starting to learn Shapr is to try not to use Shapr like SketchUp. Getting rid of preconceptions can be really hard, but different tools require different workflows. But the reward is very high. Shapr can be an incredibly useful extension for your existing workflow, and it can completely replace some or all of your other modeling tools.
As a next step, you may want to watch some of the introductory tutorials on our Youtube channel, especially the one made with SketchUp users in mind: