Create Your Own 3D Camper Model With Sketchup
Looking for a cheap way to draw up your camper ideas in 3D?
Learn how to use Sketchup — It’s easy, and it’s totally free!
Formerly known as “Google Sketchup” this popular free 3D modeling software has moved to Trimble, where the free version is now known as “Sketchup Make”, alongside the full-featured professional version known as Sketchup Pro. The correct place to download the current free version is at Sketchup.com. (Just fill out the form, and download it on the next page.)
I used Google Sketchup to quickly sketch out my homemade truck camper before I built it.
Thanks to some great tutorials from YouTube, combined with the fact that it’s so easy to learn, I literally completed my camper model on the same day I started learning the software!
The video series that got me started is this tutorial by Michael Janzen called How To Draw A Tiny House With Google Sketchup.
Since I was going to be building a “Tiny House” on my truck, everything in it was totally applicable! Most of what you need to learn is covered in the first video — things like zooming in and out, moving, sizing, and rotating objects, and using the push tool. It’ll take some practice to get used to some of the moves, so the best advice I can give is to watch the video carefully, not skipping ahead too quickly. Just practice along with the explanation and replay parts if you need to, because his demonstrations are really right on target.
(Thinking you need a 3D truck to build your camper on? Scroll down below the video.)
Need A Truck?
One cool thing about the Sketchup user community is that they've uploaded all kinds of helpful 3D models to the "3D Warehouse", which you can access from inside the software. That's how I got the awesome Toyota Tacoma Prerunner model I used for my plans.
Even though it was an extended cab regular bed instead of a double cab short bed like mine, it was totally fine. I wasn't building my model to have perfect measurements -- that would have been a lot more work -- but I was able to lay the boards out to see how things fit together, which is what was really important. In my case my final plans were simple enough that I didn't even need to look at them!
As for 3D truck camper models...
Yes, they exist. Some of the models are really detailed and useful for study, but most are nothing more than surface paintings, meant to be included as props in architectural models. There's no harm in poking around to see what you can learn from them. BUT, I'll caution you that "unpacking" the models in order to adapt them to your own truck dimensions takes a lot more technical knowhow, and it's really easy to mess it all up if you don't know what you're doing. And even if you've been working with Sketchup for awhile, the fact that everyone uses the software differently can make it a huge headache to try to modify someone else's work.
If your goal is to have a quick 3D model of your future camper, you'll probably save a lot more time and headache by watching the videos and learning how to build one from scratch. You really can learn enough to start building within a half-hour.
In the process, you'll develop your own unique 3D modeling technique, which will be different from others, with your own unique quirks and shortcuts. Depending on your own goals, you can be as neat or sloppy as you like. My own first model was extremely sloppy, but accurate enough for me to understand what pieces I would need to cut and where to put them. And that was all I needed in order to make my shopping list the next day and build it only a few days later! 🙂