Offering Freelance Rendering Services - Part 1

The duties of an interior designer are ever expanding. They enter the design field for the love of creating and procuring a vision for living, but lately, many designers are finding themselves with an overwhelming amount of tasks to fulfill. One of the newest tasks that clients are asking for is to create 3D renderings of a space so that they can visualize the design as well. 

Why is there a surge in requests for 3D modeling and photo realistic renderings? 

Clients who love to watch design shows see Chip and Joanna and house-flipping twin brothers showing their clients renderings and animations of what their space will look like before construction even starts. Our clients see these shows, and wonder if they too can see their space before it's built. I know this brings about some reluctance from designers, but this push (I believe) is a good thing!

Taking the time to create 3D models of the space during the schematic design phase will help convey designs to the client. It will show massing, how the color options work together, and help the designer talk a client in (or out of) a decision. Once the 3D model is developed, 2D drawings are pulled directly from the 3D model to document the design and plan for construction and ordering. 

Many designers are finding themselves with a choice to make.

"Should I learn 3D modeling?
Hire someone in my office who knows 3D modeling?
Or should I contract out my drawings?"

Many designers choose to create the drawings themselves because it can be a wonderful part of their design process. For others, outsourcing the drawings is the right choice because the prospect of learning a new software while keeping their business running seems overwhelming. 

This opens up a big opportunity for those who love to 3D model and design, but don’t like to (or are not able to) work with clients to source and plan for remodels and new construction. Over the next few days I will be highlighting my tips and advice for offering these services on a freelance basis.

Freelancers: Who are you offering these services to? 
Designers: What to expect when outsourcing your drawings

Structure Sensor Review

Many of you have been asking me...

Have you heard of that new structure sensor that attaches to your iPad?
I wonder how it works!

I've heard of it, I've tried it, and I LOVE it!

The Structure Sensor attaches to an iPad, and with the use of an app, will scan a space for you. Then that scan is sumitted and becomes a 3D model (typically 1-2 day turnaround time). 

I first took the sensor out for a spin in a kitchen remodel in Los Osos, California. I'll admit I was a little skeptical at first. I thought... "really, I just take it for a little spin around the space and then submit the file?" It turns out it really that simple.

Getting the scan of a small kitchen and pantry took me a few minutes, and then I was done! 

Find a link with a 5% off coupon at the bottom of this post!

Find a link with a 5% off coupon at the bottom of this post!

I chatted with the client throughout the scanning process, and the only time I took out my digital tape measure was to record one field measurement, so that I could compare it to the model that would sent to me in a couple of days.

It normally takes me at least 30-45 minutes to measure a kitchen that size, and I certainly am not talking to the client while I do it.

I saved the scan, and once back at my desk, I submitted it through the app.

A few days later I was pleasantly surprised with a properly built model, already grouped and layered just the way I like it! (Cost per room scan is $29 at time of this posting.)

The resulting model

The resulting model

I was able to take out the existing cabinets easily, move the window slightly, and add in my own design. The result was this rendering...

SketchUp Rendering
SketchUp Rendering Kitchen

The end result was that the Structure Sensor saved me about 3-4 hours of measure time, and drawing time that I usually use to set up my model. This is even more time saved for those of you who don't feel as confident yet in getting you model set up and grouped properly. 

I will be posting a mini-course soon about how I've used it, a model that it's created for me, along with some downloads so that you can investigate for yourself what the sensor can create. But in the meantime, if you want to try it for yourself, you can find the sensor below. (This is an affiliate link). 

Part 2 of Entire House Remodel Series is Posted!

Today I posted part 2 of my video series on how I use SketchUp to plan an entire house remodel. This one was a brief overview of the schematic and final design of the kitchen. When I was hired for this project the kitchen had already been taken out, and the client was feeling stuck. So we had to work quickly to keep the project rolling. SketchUp makes it easy to produce some basic drawings quickly to show clients the general layouts, massing, and style. 

I'm feeling a bit vulnerable showing everyone my very basic renderings that I use at the onset of a project. Especially since we were in a rush, but this is the actual process that I take my clients through. Non-fully developed renderings and all! 

In the next video, I will cover working through the layout of the 3rd bedroom addition. 

New video series! How I Use SketchUp to Design and Plan an Entire House Remodel

Hi Designers!

I have some fun and exciting news. One of my local clients in nearby Morro Bay California has agreed to let me film and record her remodel for the purposes of showing all of you how I use SketchUp throughout the entire remodel process, from measuring to completion*. It’s a great 2 bedroom 2 bathroom house, right near the ocean with big windows and so much potential! They will be adding on a bedroom and possibly a bathroom. It’s a bonus that she and her family are simply awesome clients and have such great taste.

The first video is posted to my YouTube channel. Check it out here! In this video, I give a short tour of the house and explain how I do an on-site measure. For more information on how I do an on-site measure and an opportunity to ask questions about it, tune in to the live training session on Monday April 10th at 10:30 am PST.

The next video in this series will deal with schematic design and presenting to the clients. I’m really looking forward to sharing this with everyone to give a real-world example of how useful and powerful SketchUp can be in an interior designers workflow.

*While I will show a lot of SketchUp tools throughout the videos, this series is not meant to be an in-depth tutorial on how to use each SketchUp tool. The main purpose of this series is to show my SketchUp drawings progress throughout the project.

LayOut Template Paper Sizes Explained

When starting a new document in SketchUp Layout, you have the option to choose a template in specific paper sizes. They are listed (Letter, A4, ArchD etc.), but don't include the specific dimensions of the paper sizes in inches or millimeters (you can still find them under Document Set Up). So below is a spreadsheet of the Template Paper Sizes in inches and millimeters for your reference.

Layout Paper Sizes

to a client. (My client will also be able to print these files easily). However for larger projects I like either 11 x 17 or 24 x 36, which I then send to a local printer.

Once you have added your logo and business information to a template, you can save that into the templates section. This will help you from having to repeat these steps at the onset of every project.


Now, when you start a new file in LayOut, it will give you the option to start with a template that you have already altered with your logo and information.

LayOut Paper Sizes

New Course! Lighting and Electrical Plan Template for SketchUp LayOut

Creating a lighting and electrical plan in SketchUp LayOut can be confusing. There are no built-in symbols to add to your drawings. With this template (geared towards residential projects), you can easily pull the lighting and electrical legend onto your drawing and create a plan quickly and easily. This course includes a template, and a few short videos on best practices for using the template. 


A few notes on the course:

  • This template will take away a few of the pain points with SketchUp Layout, mainly adding a lighting and electrical plan and/or a reflected ceiling plan to your construction documents.
  • SketchUp LayOut is required. This is available with SketchUp Pro, not Make (the free version). It will include templates from years 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.
  • This is not a course on drawing a lighting plan, but a course on using the provided template for your project, with an example.

Happy drawing! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Why I Chose SketchUp

Back in 2011 I was living in North Carolina with a strong desire to go back to school for interior design. I had two young babies at home, constantly needing me and a career in design felt out of reach. But one thing that I could do was learn SketchUp. With the help of tutorials I could even teach myself. Google owned it back them, and graciously offered the free version (now SketchUp Make), so I was up and running in no time. I made all the rookie mistakes, not grouping, putting items on different planes when I thought I was putting them on the same plane, etc. But my skills got better quickly. By Fall of 2012, after a cross country move to California (my motherland), I was back in school and using SketchUp regularly. Now, nearly 6 years later, I continue to learn new ways to improve my drawing and modeling with SketchUp. I am a huge fan of the Pro Version in conjunction with Layout.

When I present to a client I can easily show them my floor plan proposals, what that space would look like with a 3D model (a la Fixer Upper!) and then continue to refine the design with elevation drawings and detail drawings.

I’m excited to share what I have learned. From my YouTube tutorials, to my courses on workflow  and other intensives. Be sure to join the newsletter so you don’t miss a thing!

- Tammy