Jump to content

Seeking advice: VectorWorks or Sketchup?

Recommended Posts

Hi all.


I’m about to update my VW Fundamentals 2017 to Architecture 2022. Up until now I have only worked in 2D but am looking into starting 3D drawings. I mainly do interiors . My goal would be to create similar images as attached. I’m in the process of deciding whether to learn VW 3D or Sketchup. I’ll continue using VW for all 2D plans, so it seams logical to create 3D drawings in VW as well, but Sketchup seems soooo much more user friendly, easier to learn, and much less komplex that VW,  but I might be wrong…?? I’ve tried experimenting in 3D on my Fundamentals 2017, but it has been a rather frustrating process as I’ve hardly come across tutorials for 3D Fundamentals… which is why I am thinking of upgrading to Architecture...


I’d appreciate any feedback, information or advice…


Further, should I decide to start learning VW 3D I am looking for a private tutor to get me startet. If anyone is interested I’d welcome a contact.


Many thanks in advance.


Sunny greetings from Munich,




Link to comment

I would recommend you upgrade to Designer if you can justify the cost.  It includes Architect, Landmark, and Spotlight.  I’m a landscape architect and enjoy having access to the architectural tools.  I’ve fiddled with spotlight for lighting and perhaps there is an advantage there for your interior lighting work, perhaps not.

in terms of Vectorworks vs Sketchup for 3D… I replaced Sketchup by switching to a BIM workflow.  The advantage to this is your 3D BIM work becomes your rendering AND documentation needs (plans, elevations, sections, takeoffs).  It saves a lot of time in my experience.  The disadvantages are usually felt by l9ng time Sketchup users accustom to certain workflows.  Since you are new to this, starting out in Vectorworks only for 3D and BIM would probably be most efficient in time and money.


in terms of learning the workflows, best to start with Vectorworks university and take the learning track on Architecture.  This will provide you with a strong and self paced foundation.  After that, a tutor can fine tune your specific workflows.  Many of us here offer tutoring services, putting up a help wanted ad on the “job board” forum here will expose you to more providers than this post may.


if you upgrade your software, be sure to take advantage of the free twin motion offer before it ends this month.  That will give you access to a nice real time rendering engine for doing walkthroughs and such.  It plays nicely with Vectorworks and is easy to use.

  • Like 2
Link to comment

Thank you Jeff for your informative reply. Greatly appreciate your validation that I’m better of investing my time learning VW3D rather than Sketchup


I wasn’t even aware that Designer included Architect, Landmark and Spotlight…(!)  I might look into that option, although Architect 3D seems enough for me to handle at the moment, as a project and for the pocket….  


But with Architect I’m well set up for 3D drawing, yes?  Even without the Twin Motion option for now? Sorry, this is all very new to me and I am trying to wade through the jungle… 


Thanks , Snaedis 

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Hello - there are a lot of different points to consider with this - the main one being: you have to find the workflow that speaks to you and makes the most sense personally.  No one can answer this for you and you really have to roll your sleeves up and try them all out.


Staying in VW gives you the opportunity to do the 2d and 3d together in sync and this will make changes and revisions more efficient and easier to deal with.  There is a leaning curve involved in this, of course, and Renderworks is capable of producing nice renders if you take the time to really learn about materials and lighting.


Sketch up is very instinctual and quick to pick up and might be easier and faster to get designs together, at the cost of now needed to maintain and update two separate files for each project.  There is also no built in render engine with Sketch up, so if you want to move to more advanced rendering, you are looking at adding and learning a 3rd party add on renderer (which there are some very nice options for Sketch up, but cost, time, and learning need to be taken into account.).


I have free tutorials that are meant for making the transition from 2d to 3d, but I will say these are Entertainment design oriented and focus on Solid modeling (i.e. not using the architecture tools like Walls, roofs, slabs, etc., but building everything from scratch and I use Spotlight edition).  Still, these might be of use to you for general learning.  Just search for Evan Alexander Vectorworks in Youtube.


There is no better learning tool then time logged inside of the software, so you really need to try it all out and see what feels most comfortable to you and your work.  Good luck!

  • Like 2
Link to comment

I had a similar question a few years ago after more than 20 years using VW in 2D, and decided to stick with VW for 3D and have been transitioning to a BIM workflow.  There is a big learning curve, and a big payoff.  I also didn't have to learn an entirely new interface and import & export between file formats.  I would recommend making the transition slowly and/or using a past project as a learning sample.


I find Architect sufficient for my work (primarily custom single family residential), though a few Landscape features would be nice.


Good luck.


  • Like 1
Link to comment
2 hours ago, Snaedis said:

But with Architect I’m well set up for 3D drawing, yes?  Even without the Twin Motion option for now? Sorry, this is all very new to me and I am trying to wade through the jungle… 

Architect has a good set of tools to define your building and the modeling tools help bridge any gaps in forms you need to create.  Twin Motion is free with your Vectorworks license until the end of the month.  If you get it, you have it to use in perpetuity. Once you buy your Vectorworks, grab the twin motion license and just have it available when you are ready to play with it.  There are instructions here on the forum on how to retrieve the twin motion license.  It would be a shame to miss the opportunity.

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Very very helpful and encouraging comments everyone , thank you!  


@ Jeff - I was planning on waiting for the arrival of my new MacBookPro in May before purchasing VW Architect 22… but I was not aware of the TwinMotion offer till the end of the month… I’ll look into that, thanks for the info


@ E/FA great information on how you went about it, very helpful and encouraging ! Also to learn that for your work Architect suffices…. 


@ EAlexander, I so agree that spending time exploring the programs would be best, but unfortunately I’m still on Sierra (Mac) because of my VW2017 and I can’t download Sketchup for that system. But I’m slowly finding the courage here to take a deep breath and dive into VW 3D... phew ! I’ll look into your youtube tutorials, thnx 


  • Like 1
Link to comment
  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

@Snaedis - yes, stick with Vectorworks and learn 3D as you go along...what I've always found helpful in Vectorworks is that you can "bail" on the 3D model and complete your project in 2D if time is of the essence (crunch time!)... Also bear in mind that there will ALWAYS be some 2D work done to complete a drawing set - Vectorworks shines in this arena...


There are are few tutorials, webinars, etc over at the Vectorworks University that speak to interiors projects along with some pretty cool renderings done completely within Vectorworks.


Here are a couple of examples:








Happy modeling!



Link to comment

@Snaedis  Learning to use the 3d modelling tools in VW and combining them with the push/pull function in the tool set will give you a Sketchup like experience.  I think it is even better than Sketchup.  I've been using it more and more in my work for massing out buildings.  Add in the roof tools and you can block out a building in a very short time.

Link to comment

Start simple with one of your existing 2d Project and see how 3D for free you get.

A lot of the time a few settings tweaks on layer height and wall height can give you a remarkable amount of model that was always hiding with the workflow you had. 


Trust the tools Walls, Slabs, Stairs, Windoor can be both a blessing and a curse. the Curse part is they have a time more option than you need so worth creating styles that suits you so not covering the same ground over again then it won't be long till you find something they can't do. 


Treat 3d like set design... put the effort in to the things you want people to see...

Also the camera doesn't see through walls... so for interiors you need to build in your own 4th walls you can remove for some shots.  

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Thanks very much for all the replies and tips ! I SO appreciate it. I should have come to this forum right in the beginning of my 3D journey ,-) 


@Wes Garndner: I’m looking forward to check out the tutorials. Even the VW University seemed like a jungle - I could not even find ‘How To Start 3D…Lesson No One’ (!) alas the fog is slowly lifting…. 


@TomKen: thanks for sharing… so good to hear this from someone who’s used both VW and SU


@Matt Overton: thanks for the tips, they go straight into my yet blank VW note book! 

Link to comment
  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
Posted (edited)

As a former SketchUp and AutoCAD user, I can tell you that when I began the transition to Vectorworks Landmark in 2018 - I thought I would still be using SketchUp to create 3D models for import into Vectorworks. That hasn't been the case. I have not opened SketchUp since transitioning. I'm able to model everything I need using Vectorworks modeling tools. The tools are also more robust than what I last remember from SketchUp, including solid modeling and subdivision modeling which provide a lot of flexibility to create the elements you will need. Good Luck!

Edited by slebsack
extraneous word
  • Like 3
Link to comment

Another very encouraging and helpful information, thank you slebsack… I’ll be able to start out on the journey in May, and slowly am beginning to develop an appetite for the task... who would have thought ?! 

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...