Sweet Home 3D
A software package to tickle every bone in your body
Pros & Cons:
Sweet Home 3D (SH3D) is a software package that is sure to tickle every bone in your body. With this program you can model your dream home, along with all of its cherished appointments, and then watch it come to life. You can start simple, with just the bare walls, and if you already have an image of your intended floor plan, this can easily be imported into Sweet Home 3D to serve as a basis for the design-to-be. The user interface of SH3D is as intuitive as it gets; drag and drop furnishings from the built-in catalog onto your floor plan. Clear graphic handles then make it easy to move and rotate the items, shrink or enlarge them, and change their height or elevation. Arrow keys also work for nudging things into the precise desired positions. Contextual menus are always just a right-click away, affording yet more powerful functions. You can bring up a dialog box for an item and customize it in a number of ways, not just its position and size but color and finish as well. You can apply textures to all of your furnishings, floors and walls. (NB The term "texture" is used in this software to mean what some may more commonly know as an "image map".)
If you should find SH3D's built-in catalog of furnishings inadequate to meet your needs, then go online to sweethome3d.com and there you'll find hundreds of additional models free for the taking. In fact, entire libraries of such models can be imported into the program. Or, with a little ingenuity, thousands of additional object models can be readily acquired. There is the entire gallery of Google Sketchup models at your disposal, and the Internet is chock full of 3D models, if you just take the time to follow some links and use your search engines to advantage. Sweet Home 3D can import 3D objects in any of four file formats: .DAE, .OBJ, .3DS and .LWS. I mentioned the vast libraries of Sketchup models but take note that these will have to be converted. The Sketchup program can convert them to DAE format or employ a user-contributed Ruby script to convert to OBJ format. A free web service may also be of help in doing such conversions, for example, Babel3D.com.
Once you've finished your home design and tweaked every niche and corner to your liking, the fun has only just begun. Then it's time to move the camera into your model home and let Sweet Home 3D's ray-tracing rendering engine take snapshots or produce walk-through videos of your creation. Check the SH3D site for an even more advanced photo-realistic rendering plugin available at no charge. Keep a watchful eye on this site, as more models and more plugins are sure to be made available. There's a complete user forum as well, plus plenty of guidance.
The SH3D package is written entirely in the platform-independent Java language, so it should run okay under Windows, Linux, Mac OS and Solaris. It will also run in your web browser, so one option is to simply use the package online at sweethome3d.com. This software is free and open-source and is available in English plus more than a dozen other languages.
Sweet Home 3D was reviewed by Gizmos Freeware on