Glossary May 29, 2024
Updated 29 May 2024 by James Ocean
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SketchUp Alternatives in 2024: Free & Paid Software Apps

Table of Contents

What is SketchUp?

SketchUp is a well-known 3D modeling platform that is popular in multiple industries, including interior design, landscaping, architecture, and even video game design. It is a relatively user-friendly solution that can be picked up by beginners while also offering an impressive set of features for experienced users.

The basic idea of SketchUp is relatively simple: it can operate in both two and three dimensions and transform 2D into 3D, making it a very powerful tool for all kinds of 3D design tasks. The key feature of the solution is its “push and pull” functionality, which makes it possible to create new shapes and objects by “pushing” or “pulling” different elements of the existing ones instead of creating new things from scratch.

The first version of SketchUp was created in August 2000 by a startup company called @Last Software. The startup was acquired by Google in 2006, and the first free version of the solution (Google SketchUp 6) was released in early 2007. The software itself was initially distributed as a paid solution, and it retains both of these approaches to this day (a limited free version with extended paid versions for experienced users).

Six years later, Trimble Inc. (known as Trimble Navigation at the time) purchased SketchUp from Google. The official Extension Warehouse for SketchUp started working the very next year (2013), offering a selection of extensions and plugins to expand the capabilities of the software.

Capabilities of SketchUp

  • User-friendly interface.
  • Extremely high levels of accuracy with 2D and 3D models.
  • Ability to create interactive dynamic components for better visualization.
  • Basic rendering capabilities.
  • Extensive layer management capabilities.
  • Multiple options for integration with other solutions.
  • Versatile set of features that can be useful in many industries and use cases.
  • “Push and Pull” approach to model design.
  • Impressive levels of mobility, with support for multiple operating systems and device types, including desktops, tablets, and so on.

It should be noted that one other advantage of SketchUp – the ability to work with extensions and plugins – creates multiple other possibilities for the solution. The total number of potential plugins for SketchUp is massive, and they can either bring new features to the software, improve the existing ones, or both.

SketchUp’s pricing model

Unlike many of its competitors, SketchUp offers the base version of its software completely free of charge. Although this version is somewhat limited in its capabilities, it is still a viable option for most casual and even some professional users.

SketchUp also offers multiple paid pricing plans: Go, Pro, and Studio, each with its own target audience and particular advantages.

SketchUp Go starts at $119 per year. It is a relatively standard version of SketchUp that gets rid of all the limits of the free version while also adding several new features such as XR headset support, an AR viewer, unlimited cloud storage, and access to a library of pre-built 3D models.

SketchUp Pro is an extended version of the software for $349 a year. It offers a dedicated desktop application experience, access to a library of plugins and extensions, insights into the design research process, and the ability to work with 2D design documentation.

SketchUp Studio is the complete version of the software for $749 per year. It is the company’s most feature-rich offering, and it supports real-time visualizations, Revit-to-SketchUp import, panorama export, point cloud modeling in 3D, photorealistic image generation, and plenty of other capabilities. It is also available only to Windows users.

Necessity of an alternative to SketchUp

While SketchUp is a great solution for many use cases, it is still far from perfect. For example, the majority of its tutorials on the Internet were created by the community and not by the company itself. Additionally, many extensions and plugins have separate price tags on top of the subscription fee, and SketchUp offers little to nothing in terms of native integration with BIM and CAD software.

As such, there is a demand for a SketchUp alternative in multiple fields of its work. This includes the architectural software industry, in which SketchUp is already a very prominent player, but many other clients also need very specific features from their 3D modeling and architecture software.

In this article, we list multiple examples of solutions that may serve as alternatives to SketchUp for specific audiences.

Methodology for presenting and evaluating alternatives to SketchUp

Because SketchUp is used in multiple different industries, it is extremely challenging to evaluate its alternatives and competitors. As such, the goal is to offer as much information about each solution as possible from multiple perspectives, highlighting both the advantages and shortcomings of each option.

Customer ratings

Public customer ratings are an essential element of the software evaluation process because they use collective public opinion on the subject to offer a relatively unbiased view. They are a great tool in situations like these, with highly competitive fields and hundreds of software options to choose from.

Resources such as G2, Capterra, and TrustRadius offer hundreds of thousands of verified reviews to the public, creating a great environment for evaluating thousands of solutions based on relatively common factors.

This kind of information is also a great source for various advantages and shortcomings of each solution. We will elaborate on this topic below.

Key features, advantages, and shortcomings

The problem with evaluating dozens of highly specialized solutions is that it is very difficult to have a personal opinion of and prolonged experience with every single one of them. As such, our second best option is to use various review aggregation resources to gather the general sentiment about each software solution.

The review aggregation sources mentioned above are extremely helpful in that regard, providing plenty of customer experiences to work from, and a lot of valuable feedback can be gathered, including the advantages and shortcomings of specific software. Unfortunately, not all of the solutions on this list have very many public reviews, which is why some of the examples of software might have less information.


The cost of the software is an incredibly important factor for many potential customers. It is not uncommon for budget constraints to be the only reason a company does not acquire a particular solution. Some solutions are free, while others are extremely expensive, and in many cases there is a valid reason for the logic of their pricing. For example, a free solution might be too complicated to be useful to most users, while an expensive solution might offer dozens of features in a single package to justify its higher price.

This section of the methodology aims to provide information about the software’s pricing model. While it is not uncommon for business software not to have pricing information available to the public, most do offer at least some information about how their pricing is structured.

Personal opinion of the author

The most subjective element of the methodology is the author’s personal opinion, offering some form of information that was not presented before. This information may be a short description of the solution’s capabilities, some interesting fact, or even information that has not been mentioned before for one reason or another.

Due to the scope and complexity of SketchUp’s different fields of work, the majority of our examples will be paid software. Some of them have free trials with the software’s full set of features, while others offer nothing aside from the paid versions of the software.

Solid Edge

Solid Edge was developed by Siemens Digital Industries Software. It is sophisticated CAD software that offers a multitude of CAD capabilities in a single package. Solid Edge is highly modular, providing tools for simulation, data management, manufacturing, and 3D design. It is most effective in the mechanical design, product data management, electrical design, and manufacturing industries. It attempts to combine the flexibility of parametric design with the versatility of direct modeling and the ability to modify specific parts of the geometry without relying on a traditional history-based approach to modeling.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.4/5 points based on 46 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius7.9/10 points based on 50 customer reviews
  • G24.3/5 points based on 373 customer reviews


  • Relatively simple CAD solution for newcomers.
  • Support for a multitude of CAD model types.
  • Can be used to transform 3D models into 2D sheets for specific purposes.


  • Getting used to the software’s UI can be a somewhat challenging process.
  • It can be very demanding in terms of hardware capabilities.
  • Lackluster customer support experience.

Pricing (at the time of writing):

  • Solid Edge takes a somewhat peculiar approach to pricing. Its product page offers multiple different subscription options to choose from. These options can be separated into three groups:
    • General subscription-based offerings
    • Feature-specific subscriptions
    • Token-based subscriptions
  • Each element has its own price tag, and it is possible to mix and match some of them. As for the elements themselves, the first group of general subscriptions consists of:
    • Design and Drafting is a basic CAD package that starts at $86 a month. It offers basic automation, rendering, part design, and assembly design capabilities.
    • Foundation is a slightly larger CAD package that starts at $210 a month. It combines the previous offering with surface modeling, 2.5-axis milling, and weldment management.
    • Classic is Solid Edge’s most popular CAD package, starting at $263 a month. It provides reverse engineering, generative design, subdivision modeling, and a number of other features in addition to everything mentioned above.
    • Premium is the complete CAD functionality of Solid Edge. It starts at $378 per month, and it offers point cloud visualization, electrical routing, stress simulation, and more.
  • The second group of offerings from Solid Edge covers specific categories of use cases, such as:
    • Wiring Design, starting at $189 a month (billed annually).
    • Harness Design, starting at $163 a month (billed annually).
    • Wiring & Harness Design, starting at $326 a month (billed annually).
    • 2D Drafting, starting at $36 a month (billed annually).
    • 3D Publishing, starting at $232 a month (billed annually).
    • Design Configurator, starting at $139 per month (billed annually).
    • Teamcenter Integration, starting at $38 a month (billed annually).
    • Illustrations, starting at $150 a month (billed annually).
    • Solid Edge + CAM Pro 3 Axis Milling, starting at $530 a month (billed annually).
  • The last group of offerings is the most interesting of the three. It is called “Value-Based Licensing,” and it uses a token system to provide access to all of the aforementioned specific features of Solid Edge for a limited time. There are only two token bundles available right now:
    • Value Based Licensing 25 Pack, for $360 a month (billed annually).
    • Value Based Licensing 50 Pack, for $756 a month (billed annually).

My personal opinion on Solid Edge:

Solid Edge is a combination of CAD tools developed and distributed by Siemens Digital Industries Software. It is a rather unusual solution for this market, offering a combination of features that can also be acquired separately. Solid Edge excels in the machinery, aerospace, and automotive industries – and practically every other industry that requires product manufacturing capabilities. Its pricing model is rather confusing (even if it is quite varied), its interface is even more confusing, and it also manages to be just as resource-hungry as some of its worst competitors in that regard, which is why it might not be the best solution for every single use case.

Autodesk Revit

It is very difficult to overstate Revit’s popularity in the BIM market. It is an extremely complex architectural software solution from Autodesk that offers a variety of modeling and rendering capabilities, as well as construction features, collaborative capabilities, and more. Revit’s rendering and modeling capabilities are the prime reason why it is considered an alternative to SketchUp, even though their target audiences differ slightly. Similar to most Autodesk solutions, Revit is also compatible with other Autodesk software, and there is also a system of add-ons to expand the software’s capabilities to a certain degree.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.6/5 points based on 433 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius8.9/10 points based on 212 customer reviews
  • G24.5/5 points based on 854 customer reviews


  • Extremely long list of features capable of covering the needs of a BIM manager, an architect, a designer, a subcontractor, etc.
  • Impressive 3D modeling capabilities for a solution that is not all-in CAD software.
  • Many supported file formats and integrations with other software.


  • One-way model compatibility that does not allow newer models to be launched with older versions of the software, even without some of their elements.
  • Very limited automation.
  • Steep learning curve and rather convoluted interface.

Pricing (at the time of writing):

  • Revit offers two different pricing approaches.
  • The first is a standard subscription that costs:
    • $365 per month.
    • $2,910 per year.
    • $8,730 per three years.
  • The second involves accessing Revit as a part of the Autodesk Flex program, a “pay-as-you-go” option that offers a daily price in tokens for a number of Autodesk services. Revit’s Flex cost is 10 tokens per day, and there are at least two token bundles available for purchase:
    • 100 tokens for $300
    • 500 tokens for $1500
    • It is also possible to purchase custom amounts of tokens, depending on the needs of the company, and the tokens themselves have an expiration period of 1 year after the purchase.

My personal opinion on Revit:

Revit is one of Autodesk’s best-known solutions. It is widely recognized as the most popular software for building information management, putting it on the same level as AutoCAD, one of the best-known CAD solutions in its field. Revit is a fast and versatile application that provides a plethora of different features and capabilities, including multiple collaboration-oriented options, an impressive set of 3D modeling features, and more. It is also extremely expensive and has had known issues with automation and interface complexity, but none of that is too big of an issue to make it any less viable in its field of specialization.


MicroStation from Bentley offers a somewhat universal approach to architectural software by providing a complete set of tools that can be useful to practically any expert in the AEC field. It can be used for both drafting and modeling, with a sizable set of features in terms of modeling, infrastructure design, analysis, visualization, etc. It also has basic BIM capabilities, moderately useful geospatial capabilities, and a certain level of customization via support for .NET, MDL, VBA, and some other APIs.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.4/5 points based on 173 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius8.6/10 points based on 23 customer reviews
  • G24.0/5 points based on 299 customer reviews


  • Support for multiple 3D model formats.
  • Ease of integration of newer components within the same project.
  • No need for extremely powerful hardware to operate the solution.


  • MicroStation has plenty of issues when it comes to working with complex and large project models.
  • The overall rendering quality is somewhat lacking and is noticeably lower than what a lot of competitors provide.

Pricing (at the time of writing):

  • Bentley’s pricing model is very simple. There is just one subscription license, which lasts a year and costs €2,702. This license includes all of MicroStation’s capabilities, such as centralized access to deliverables, extensive modeling capabilities, and integration of multiple data types. It also includes three training credits from Virtuosity to simplify the initial onboarding process.

My personal opinion on MicroStation:

MicroStation from Bentley is not a particularly well-known architecture solution, but it manages to be helpful to most positions within the AEC market. It can perform many different modeling operations while also remaining relatively light on hardware resources, and it is not particularly expensive. It also supports many project file formats, making it surprisingly versatile. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of issues that are worth noting, such as the number of slowdowns with large project models and the overall low rendering quality.

3ds Max

3D Studio Max (often known as 3ds Max) is a 3D modeling software application that shares a lot of similarities with AutoCAD and other similar solutions. The most significant difference of 3ds Max is its focus on the entertainment industry, first and foremost. It is a great tool for developing video game models, animating projects, assisting with television or film production, etc. That is not to say that 3ds Max is not capable of working with architectural visualization: a lot of its capabilities are somewhat similar to what AutoCAD offers. 3ds Max is also heavy on customization and scripting, with the latter supporting both Python and Autodesk’s own MAXScript for improving existing features, creating new ones, and automating a lot of menial tasks.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.7/5 points based on 100 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius8.7/10 points based on 33 customer reviews
  • G24.2/5 points based on 277 customer reviews


  • Excellent rendering quality with its own rendering engine.
  • Extensive integration with other Autodesk solutions, as well as support for the integration of other CAD software.
  • A wealth of useful features, including simulation of hair and cloth, particle effect generation, keyframe animation, rigging, procedural modeling, and so on.


  • Most rendering tasks take a long time to perform.
  • The pricing model can be a bit confusing, and the price itself is somewhat high.
  • The software is also very demanding hardware-wise, and a heavy investment is practically a necessity for proper software functioning.

Pricing (at the time of writing):

  • 3ds Max offers at least two different pricing models.
  • There is a basic subscription that can be paid for on a monthly basis ($235 per month), yearly basis ($1,875 per year), or every three years ($5,625 for the entire period).
  • 3ds Max can also be used as a part of the Autodesk Flex program, a “pay-as-you-go” option that offers a daily price in tokens for the use of some Autodesk services. 3ds Max’s Flex cost is 6 tokens per day, and there are at least two token bundles available for purchase:
    • 100 tokens for $300
    • 500 tokens for $1500
  • It is also possible to purchase custom amounts of tokens, depending on the needs of the company, and the tokens themselves have an expiration period of 1 year after the purchase.

My personal opinion on 3ds Max:

3ds Max is highly complex modeling software from Autodesk that operates in its own part of the modeling market. Not only is it competent modeling software, but it can also be used to animate models, simulate materials and particles, and even write scripts for specific tasks. All this makes it a great option for film production, video game development, and other similar tasks. The software is far from perfect, its rendering process takes a long time, and the solution itself demands a lot from the user’s hardware, but its advantages are still more than enough to cover its shortcomings.

Autodesk Fusion 360

Autodesk Fusion 360 offers a somewhat different approach to CAD design compared with traditional 3D modeling solutions. It is a cloud-based solution that offers not only CAD capabilities but also computer-aided engineering (CAE) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) in a single package. It offers plenty of other capabilities, including the creation and sharing of technical documentation, extensive customization via add-ins and APIs, and its interface is relatively user-friendly. The primary target uses of Fusion 360 are engineering analysis, manufacturing, and product design, due to its combination of CAE, CAM, and CAD in a single package.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.5/5 points based on 237 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius7.6/10 points based on 96 customer reviews
  • G24.5/5 points based on 455 customer reviews


  • Collaborative approach to design with plenty of cooperation-oriented features.
  • Even the more complex concepts and features are easy to understand thanks to the solution’s convenient UI.
  • The impressive existing user base makes it a lot easier to find necessary guides and tutorials online.


  • The solution’s cloud-side core makes it somewhat annoying to adapt to every update that changes something in the middle of a project.
  • Complete lack of any kind of offline mode.
  • Free modeling is very limited in Fusion 360, which is mostly technical software and not design-centric software.

Pricing (at the time of writing):

  • Fusion 360 offers a single pricing model.
  • There is a basic subscription that can be paid for monthly ($85 per month), yearly ($680 per year), or every three years ($2,040 for the entire period).
  • It cannot be obtained using Autodesk Flex.

My personal opinion on Fusion 360:

Fusion 360 is an exciting solution in its own right. Its ability to work with 3D models makes it a competitor to any CAD solution out there (as well as software like SketchUp), but it is not as detailed as AutoCAD and its alternatives. In exchange, Fusion 360 offers a combination of CAD, CAE, and CAM capabilities in a single package while also being a cloud-based solution with little to no hardware requirements. It can be extremely helpful when it comes to engineering analysis, manufacturing, or product development, but its online-only capabilities and very limited capabilities in terms of free modeling make it somewhat case-specific software.


GRAPHISOFT is often credited as the creator of the first full-fledged BIM solution, Archicad. Despite its age, it is still actively developed and upgraded, with a plethora of BIM capabilities and features. It can perform accurate information measurements, automate documentation workflows, and help with complex model designs. While it does focus more on the collaborative side of BIM, its modeling capabilities are not bad, either, which makes it a prime competitor of SketchUp in terms of modeling capabilities.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.5/5 points based on 277 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius8.8/10 points based on 26 customer reviews
  • G24.6/5 points based on 245 customer reviews


  • Can view projects in both 2D and 3D with ease.
  • Interface navigation is surprisingly good and not particularly complicated.
  • Plenty of modeling capabilities to choose from despite its focus on the collaborative side of BIM.


  • The object library is relatively rigid and has little to no customization options.
  • Updates to layout drawings take a long time to be implemented.
  • The solution’s primary modeling focus is in three dimensions, which makes its 2D drawings somewhat limited.

Pricing (at the time of writing):

  • Archicad’s pricing model is not particularly complex. It consists of a free educational license (1 year), a 30-day free trial, and three subscription pricing tiers:
    • Archicad, which starts at $225 per month before tax, offers the software’s basic (complete) set of features.
    • Archicad Solo starts at $200 per month before tax. It is an excellent solution for individual managers which lacks most of the sharing-related features.
    • Archicad Collaborate starts at $225 per month before tax. It combines Archicad with BIMcloud, a cloud-centric solution that expands Archicad’s collaborative capabilities.

My personal opinion on Archicad:

Archicad is often considered the first commercial BIM solution on the market, and it is still relatively competent to this day, offering plenty of BIM features in terms of collaboration, modeling, and more. It is relatively easy to navigate, and its BIM capabilities greatly reduce the number of different tools that must be used within the same project. At the same time, it is not the most useful when it comes to 2D modeling, and there are some other issues with the object library and long updates to layout drawings that might also turn off some potential users.


SolidWorks offers a sophisticated CAD toolset with the goal of offering a massive set of features without the added complexity that most CAD solutions are known for. It is a solution built primarily for computer-aided design and engineering, providing a wide variety of features for a relatively low price. It is still quite challenging to get a handle on all the capabilities of SolidWorks, but it is also noticeably less complex in comparison with its competitors.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.7/5 stars based on 724 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius8.1/10 stars based on 403 customer reviews
  • G24.4/5 stars based on 553 customer reviews


  • It is challenging to find CAD software on the market that offers better environment management capabilities than SolidWorks.
  • Excellent simulation capabilities with multiple materials to choose from.
  • Plenty of capabilities and features in the 3D modeling sphere.


  • Extremely high hardware requirements for the proper functioning of the system.
  • Not all of the capabilities are equally challenging, and some specific tools are far more difficult to use.
  • License management is very difficult with SolidWorks.

Pricing (at the time of writing):

  • SolidWorks offers very limited pricing information on its official web resources.
  • The licensing model revolves around the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which is comprised of three pricing tiers:
    • Standard, which includes 3DSwymer, Collaborative Industry Innovator, 3DEXPERIENCE SolidWorks Standard, and 3D Creator.
    • Professional, which provides 3DEXPERIENCE SolidWorks Professional.
    • Premium, which adds the Premium version of the solution and the Simulation Designer package.
  • This can be relatively confusing without a detailed explanation, but the rest of the licensing information can be obtained only by requesting a personalized quotation from SolidWorks.

My personal opinion on SolidWorks:

Mechanical modeling and product design are the most notable examples of use cases for SolidWorks. It is complex CAD software with an immense level of precision and versatile modeling capabilities. It is a great help for many different audiences, with a significant focus on professional design and modeling. It also excels at performing simulations with different material types. On the other hand, its licensing model is messy and complicated, and the software itself can be tough to work with.

Autodesk Inventor

Autodesk Inventor is another example of specialized software from Autodesk. Its main goal is to provide assistance in mechanical and product design, which makes it relatively similar to AutoCAD, even if Inventor is far more specialized in its capabilities. Inventor manages to integrate two- and three-dimensional data in a single environment, offering a detailed representation of the final product as early as the design phase with all of the dimensions, design options, and functional capabilities of a real object. It also offers freeform modeling, parametric modeling, and the ability to operate in multiple CAD model formats, if necessary.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.5/5 points based on 257 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius8.1/10 points based on 80 customer reviews
  • G24.4/5 points based on 419 customer reviews


  • Impressive versatility, offering plenty of capabilities in a centralized interface.
  • Extensive integration with other Autodesk products, such as AutoCAD.
  • Some of Inventor’s basic capabilities are relatively easy to understand, even if complete mastery of the software still takes a long time.


  • Similar to how the basic features of Inventor are user-friendly, there are some elements that are extremely inconvenient and difficult to work with, such as the Tube & Pipe module.
  • It is difficult to manage complex shapes with Inventor. It is not impossible, and there is a functionality for it, but the process is very inconvenient.
  • Inventor is very demanding software and needs a lot of hardware resources to perform well in most cases.

Pricing (at the time of writing):

  • Autodesk Inventor subscriptions have three different prices depending on the length of the subscription:
    • $315 for one month
    • $2,500 for one year
    • $7,500 for three years
  • There is also Autodesk Flex, a “pay-as-you-go” pricing model with tokens that provide access to Autodesk products with daily payments with no commitment to a complete purchase. Autodesk Inventor costs 8 tokens per day, and users can choose between several different token packages available on the Autodesk website:
    • $300 for 100 tokens
    • $1,500 for 500 tokens
    • Custom token amounts
  • It should be noted that the pricing of all Autodesk products is updated regularly, and the only way for a business to fix the software’s price is to purchase a three-year package (which is cheaper than paying for the same period on a monthly or yearly basis, and the base price of the solution also remains the same for the entire duration of these three years).

My personal opinion on Autodesk Inventor:

Autodesk Inventor is a rather interesting solution for multiple reasons. There is the fact that Inventor has a lot of overlap with AutoCAD in its capabilities, even if it is more targeted towards the manufacturing industry over everything else. Additionally, it continues the trend of Autodesk software applications being highly specialized versions of AutoCAD, like Civil 3D, 3ds Max, and so on. By itself, Inventor is a rather helpful solution in its area of specialization, but it does have a few notable issues, including extremely high system requirements, the inconvenience of using certain software modules, and the complexity of creating sophisticated shapes with Inventor alone due to its unwieldiness in this regard.


AutoCAD is extremely popular computer-aided drafting software distributed by Autodesk. It is the best-known CAD software application on the market, and its two main fields of work are drafting and object design. It can be used by many different professions and specialists, including construction experts, engineers, architects, and more. AutoCAD supports many other model formats, offers plenty of plugins and add-ons for improving its existing features, and even supports API-based scripting via ObjectARX, VBA, .NET, and AutoLISP, among others.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.7/5 points based on 3,018 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius8.8/10 points based on 545 customer reviews
  • G24.4/5 points based on 1,416 customer reviews


  • Plenty of integration capabilities, including multiple Autodesk products.
  • Support for multiple APIs and script languages makes it highly customizable if necessary.
  • Large array of features makes it very useful in many situations and industries, including research, design, sketching, prototyping, etc.


  • The extremely high number of features and capabilities make navigating the software somewhat difficult for less experienced users.
  • The software tends to struggle a bit with the 3D modeling process, experiencing slowdowns and other issues.
  • The complete lack of cloud collaboration capabilities makes data sharing somewhat less helpful than it could be.

Pricing (at the time of writing):

  • AutoCAD offers two different pricing approaches.
  • The first is a basic subscription license with different time frames:
    • $255 per month
    • $2,030 per year
    • $6,090 per three years (with a fixed base price per month).
  • The second involves accessing AutoCAD as part of the Autodesk Flex program, a “pay-as-you-go” option that offers a daily price in tokens for a number of Autodesk services. AutoCAD’s Flex cost is 7 tokens per day, and there are at least two token bundles available for purchase:
    • 100 tokens for $300
    • 500 tokens for $1500
  • It is also possible to purchase custom amounts of tokens, depending on the company’s specific needs. The tokens themselves expire one year after purchase.

My personal opinion on AutoCAD:

AutoCAD is extremely well-known in the 3D CAD sphere. It offers an incredibly large number of features and can be helpful in many situations. It is also highly customizable via APIs and scripts, and there is also a system of add-ons that can expand the solution’s capabilities. On the other hand, AutoCAD can be very difficult and intimidating to approach for newcomers. It demands a lot of hardware resources to work properly, and learning all of its capabilities takes a rather long time. Autodesk itself seems to be aware of this, as well, which is why there are plenty of in-house learning resources and training courses that can be taken to improve one’s capabilities with AutoCAD.

Free alternatives to SketchUp

As mentioned before, some alternatives to SketchUp are free, although their capabilities are rarely on the same level as those of paid alternatives. It should be noted that this section includes software which has a “free” tier, no matter how limited its capabilities.

Separating business software into multiple categories based on the price tag is challenging because the line between “free” and “paid” can be very blurry. This is why we have chosen to treat software with free trial capabilities as “paid” and software with limited free pricing tiers as “free.”

Nevertheless, the list below concludes the article with multiple free examples of SketchUp alternatives.


FreeCAD is a completely free solution for parametric modeling, an architectural solution that can be used for many design-oriented use cases. The software’s modular architecture also makes it possible to expand its capabilities in many ways, just as with SketchUp. The software has open source code and strong community support, which makes it a rather interesting option for 3D modeling tasks with a limited budget.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.3/5 points based on 139 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius7.8/10 points based on 10 customer reviews
  • G24.2/5 points based on 57 customer reviews


  • The incredible advantage of being a completely free solution in the field of highly sophisticated modeling software.
  • Similar to most modeling software, FreeCAD can be used by constructors, designers, engineers, architects, and more.
  • The versatility of the software is quite impressive, and it supports multiple operating systems.


  • FreeCAD is a very complex solution that has an impressively steep learning curve.
  • The software’s interface is not very user-friendly and might take a while to get used to.
  • FreeCAD is best suited for working with smaller and less complex models, and it does not handle large and complex projects well.


  • As its name suggests, FreeCAD is a completely free and open-source solution.

My personal opinion on FreeCAD:

FreeCAD is relatively competent 3D modeling software that is difficult to recommend to most users. It is not particularly user-friendly, and there is a steep learning curve, but it is also completely free and can be expanded in multiple ways using a system of modules. The lack of a price tag does come with a few more caveats: the lack of customer support and the absence of a centralized learning resource about the software’s capabilities are just a few of the potential issues. And yet, FreeCAD’s capabilities are quite impressive to any user who manages to get used to its unwieldy interface.

Sweet Home 3D

Sweet Home 3D is a solution that aims to compete with SketchUp in a very specific field: interior design. Sweet Home 3D is convenient architectural software that offers house plan creation in 2D (and can preview them in 3D). It has a vast library of pre-made objects to use as furniture, which is why it is also highly favored by renovators and real estate agents. It is not the most complex solution on the list, but it is also extremely easy to use, which is a very rare trait for these complex fields. It can perform project review and architectural design (to a certain degree), and its primary audience is individual customers, not businesses or enterprises.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.5/5 stars based on 21 customer reviews
  • G24.3/5 stars based on 18 customer reviews


  • Ability to view all of the projects made in Sweet Home 3D in both two and three dimensions at any time.
  • Respectable library of objects for furnishing and other interior design purposes.
  • Multiple floor planning capabilities to work with.
  • Complete lack of a price tag.


  • The standalone desktop version is not updated as frequently as its web-based counterpart.
  • Despite the fact that most of the basic capabilities of the solution are easy to handle, mastering Sweet Home 3D’s entire set features takes time and effort.
  • Navigating models in 3D can be a challenge.

Pricing (at the time of writing):

  • Sweet Home 3D is completely free software with no hidden costs attached.

My personal opinion on Sweet Home 3D:

In a list of solutions full of CAD and BIM software, Sweet Home 3D claims its own category, since it cannot be categorized as either of those. It is a floor planning and interior design solution that can only challenge a fraction of SketchUp’s capabilities, but it is still a competitor for SketchUp. It is a completely free solution that is rather impressive on its own, with a library of 3D objects, multiple design tools, and plenty of other capabilities.


LibreCAD is a basic computer-aided design solution that can only work with 2D design. It supports Windows, macOS, and Linux devices, making it one of the very few solutions to support all three operating systems. It is also completely free and open source, a source of additional appeal for people with limited budgets. LibreCAD’s interface is also very close in its overall logic to how AutoCAD operates, making it easy for AutoCAD users to adopt and get used to.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.1/5 points based on 48 customer reviews
  • G23.8/5 points based on 25 customer reviews


  • Complete lack of a price tag combined with strong community support.
  • Large set of features for free architectural software.
  • A great option for simple design tasks.


  • LibreCAD has a steep learning curve, and it takes a while to get used to all of its capabilities.
  • It is somewhat unstable, with frequent slowdowns and crashes reported on a regular basis.
  • The majority of learning content about LibreCAD is community-created, which may feel somewhat disjointed.
  • It does not support three-dimensional modeling whatsoever.

Pricing (at the time of writing):

  • LibreCAD is completely free and open source.

My personal opinion on LibreCAD:

LibreCAD is an exciting solution that closely resembles AutoCAD’s interface and feature set without the massive price tag usually associated with Autodesk products. It is also highly customizable and even supports Lua scripting, creating possibilities for various task automation sequences to be written. However, its model creation capabilities are only available in 2D, and it can be an extremely difficult solution to get into for many newcomers. The lack of official training and documentation makes it even more difficult for new users to learn the software’s capabilities.


SelfCAD is a relatively unknown solution that combines CAD and CAM capabilities in a single package. It attempts to solve one of the biggest issues of modern CAD software: lack of accessibility. SelfCAD can be used by both beginners and professionals, and most of its modeling capabilities are relatively easy to start working with. It also offers sculpting, preparation for 3D printing, and convenient collaboration capabilities, and the fact that it is a cloud-based solution means it does not place high demands on the end user’s hardware.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.6/5 points based on 11 customer reviews


  • Impressive 3D modeling and sculpting capabilities combined with the ability to perform STL repairs and prepare models for 3D printing operations using an integrated slicing tool.
  • The overall UI of the software is user-friendly and easy to work with.
  • The customer service team is nothing if not efficient and helpful.


  • Severe limitations in terms of parametric modeling.
  • Difficult to create complex and sophisticated models.
  • Although the software itself is not particularly complicated, the steep initial learning curve means it takes a while to get used to it.

Pricing (at the time of writing):

  • The pricing model of SelfCAD consists of two pricing plans: Free and Pro.
    • The Free pricing plan does not have a price tag, and it offers a porting of the software’s capabilities, such as direct data import/export, STL slicing, drawing, sketching, and interactive tutorials.
    • The Pro version starts at $14.99 per month ($11.99 if paid for annually) for a single license, offering all of the features of SelfCAD: sculpting, deformation, 3D sketching, and more.

My personal opinion on SelfCAD:

SelfCAD is a relatively simple sketching and modeling tool that will probably find its niche among hobbyists with 3D printers rather than businesses and architects. Nevertheless, it is still a rather notable CAD and CAM solution that offers plenty of useful features, ranging from extensive CAD capabilities to unusual features for sculpting, 3D printing, and more. The fact that SelfCAD is also user-friendly makes it even more attractive for the potential user base, even though its capabilities in parametric modeling are somewhat limited, and the software is not suitable for working with massive and complex models.

Wings 3D

Wings 3D is an impressive subdivision modeler. It is a comprehensive 3D modeling solution that attempts to offer a wide array of features without overcomplicating the software’s interface. It is completely free, has been available since 2001, and uses Erlang as its primary programming language (an open-source language by Ericsson). Its name comes from the WEDS, or Winged Edge Data Structure, the system that stores data on the relationships between adjacent vertices, faces, edges, and so on.

Key features:

  • Extensive customization, both visual and backend-oriented (support for scripting).
  • Substantial community that includes both regular users and experienced developers.
  • Support for multiple 3D model formats.
  • Surprising ease of use for free CAD software.

Pricing (at the time of writing):

  • Wings 3D is completely free; there are no additional payments necessary.

My personal opinion on Wings 3D:

Wings 3D is comprehensive 3D modeling software that offers an impressive combination of features without being too challenging to work with. It supports subdivision modeling, making its models extremely detailed and visually impressive. It also has a loyal community of users and developers that contribute error messages and test new features on a regular basis. There is not very much official configuration material on the subject, and the solution is still somewhat difficult to get into for specific user categories, which is why it cannot be recommended to just anyone, but plenty of users will find a lot of useful capabilities in it.


Shapr3D is one of many 3D modeling solutions, which makes it rather difficult to find among its competitors. It provides professional CAD capabilities for multiple operating systems (Windows, Mac, and even iPadOS). It is relatively easy to work with, and its tablet version can also take advantage of the touch-based interface and various Apple Pencil features. It also provides multiple rendering versions, compatibility with various CAD solutions, and impressive levels of precision with its 3D modeling capabilities.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.7/5 points based on 21 customer reviews
  • G24.9/5 points based on 147 customer reviews


  • Relatively user-friendly software that allows the creation of complex 3D models with little to no issues.
  • Official YouTube channel with helpful information, as well as other learning materials.
  • Responsive and helpful customer support team.


  • The number of different material textures to choose from is very limited.
  • The same can be said for the complex assembly tools that are necessary for the creation of comprehensive designs.
  • Rather steep price tag for its paid versions.

Pricing (at the time of writing):

  • Shapr3D is a solution with a relatively standard pricing model.
  • There is a free version with limitations, the Basic tier, which offers most of Shapr’s capabilities, including importing from CAD platforms, exporting for prototyping purposes, etc. It is also limited to 2 designs only.
  • Shapr3D’s other pricing is as follows:
    • The Pro pricing tier starts at $38 per month ($25 per month for annual plans). It offers a limit-free version of the Basic feature package with the addition of real-time product renders, priority tech support, technical drawings, etc.
    • The Enterprise tier is the most expansive offering on the list. It does not have a public price tag, but it does have SSO support, consolidated billing, reassignable licensing, dedicated account managers, etc.

My personal opinion on Shapr3D:

Shapr3D is an impressive CAD tool with many well-known features. It is fast, responsive, and surprisingly easy to work with by the standards of this market. In addition to the usual Windows and Mac support for the desktop software, it also has its own iPad application. It uses the geometric modeling engine from SolidWorks to deliver an impressive CAD solution with its fair share of advantages and limitations, but it might not be the best option for complex and highly detailed 3D projects.


Onshape is a CAD platform that is completely cloud-based. It attempts to offer the same experience that other CAD solutions on the market provide while also addressing the existing limitations of the category of CAD software. It offers extensive 3D modeling and drawing capabilities (with direct and parametric editing) while also being a centralized platform for real-time collaboration among multiple project participants. Other capabilities of Onshape include extensive built-in data management capabilities, detailed access control, API access, and more.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.5/5 points based on 313 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius9.0/10 points based on 75 customer reviews
  • G24.7/5 points based on 641 customer reviews


  • Basic 3D CAD capabilities are very responsive and efficient.
  • Extensive collaboration features in a CAD solution, a rare combination in this industry.
  • Version history can be very helpful in many situations, including both commercial and educational environments.


  • The lack of offline access to existing project models may be a significant deal-breaker for a lot of customers.
  • The solution can be difficult to get into at first.
  • Sketching in 2D is somewhat rigid and does not always register the correct gestures or actions.

Pricing (at the time of writing):

  • Onshape offers four different pricing plans, ranging between completely free and enterprise-specific options with no public cost.
  • The Free Plan is a great option for personal projects. It offers a number of CAD capabilities, as well as versioning, access to mobile apps, and unlimited public project storage.
  • The other pricing plans are:
    • The Standard Plan costs $1,500 per year for a single user and is essentially a paid version of the Free Plan. It offers unlimited private storage and direct customer support.
    • The Professional Plan starts at $2,500 per year for a single user and offers advanced PDM, rendering, release management, ECAD exchange, and other capabilities.
    • The Enterprise Plan has no publicly available pricing information. It offers priority support, SSO capability, analytics and dashboards, and guest access.

My personal opinion on Onshape:

The main goal of Onshape is to try to solve issues that have plagued the CAD software industry for decades, which is also the main reason behind a lot of its design choices, from the cloud-only structure to its vast collaborative capabilities. Onshape was created by former SolidWorks executives, as well, which explains why some of the specific CAD issues were addressed more. It is a great solution in and of itself, but it does have its fair share of disadvantages, including difficult onboarding, problematic sketching, and the lack of offline model viewing capabilities.


pCon.planner is another example of an interior design solution with plenty of capabilities to its name. The software allows its users to create accurate and detailed interior design projects, including customizable lighting, decorations, and plenty of furniture models to choose from. It also provides real-time visualization and accurate rendering capabilities, as well as high precision in measurements, support for various project file formats, and space optimization. It uses a standard pricing model with a basic free version and a more feature-rich PRO version.

Key features:

  • Integration with dozens of rendering plugins and other solutions in the architecture industry.
  • An impressive set of features in the field of interior design, with different lighting types, a myriad of room elements, and more.
  • Support for many file formats, with DWG being the primary file format.
  • Surprisingly high performance, even with complex project models.

Pricing (at the time of writing):

  • Little to no pricing information can be gathered from pCon.planner’s official website.
  • It is a solution that can be downloaded for free with limitations or purchased as a PRO version for an extended feature set.
  • Other pricing information can be acquired only by contacting the company directly.

My personal opinion on pCon.planner:

pCon.planner is a relatively old architectural solution for interior designers that was created back in 1998. It is still updated regularly, and its set of features is full of commonly used features such as room element manipulation, floor plan drawing, layer modification, ability to work with multiple file formats, integration with other CAD solutions, and so on. It is also compatible with other pCon software, such as and, creating a greatly expanded combined solution.


Blender is an extremely popular software offering that manages to cover the entire 3D pipeline in a single solution. With its modeling, animation, rendering, motion tracking, simulation, rigging, and other capabilities, Blender is a well-known name in multiple industries, including game development, animation, and art. Blender’s capabilities include procedural modeling, sculpting, path tracing, and realistic rendering. It is also a completely free solution that can expand its functionality with a system of add-ons.

Customer ratings:

  • Capterra4.7/5 points based on 926 customer reviews
  • TrustRadius9.1/10 points based on 87 customer reviews
  • G24.6/5 points based on 294 customer reviews


  • Extremely high levels of community support, generating new add-ons and learning materials on a regular basis.
  • Complete lack of a price tag.
  • Immense number of features that extend far beyond 3D modeling.


  • Extremely steep learning curve and the lack of a clear and concise way to approach Blender as a newcomer.
  • Convoluted user interface.
  • It is far from perfect when it comes to very specific features, such as cleaning up models.
  • High hardware requirements with frequent spikes of usage in complex situations.

Pricing (at the time of writing):

  • Blender is completely free and open-source software.

My personal opinion on Blender:

Blender is one of the most popular multifunctional tools on the market. It can do 3D modeling, animation, rigging, simulation, and plenty of other things. An active community and a system of add-ons expand its functionalities even further. On the other hand, Blender is very difficult to get into, its interface navigation is extremely convoluted, and the software requires very powerful hardware to work at its fullest.


SketchUp is highly versatile software that is applicable to many use cases. It is also far from perfect, and there are plenty of disadvantages that might dissuade users from choosing it. The fact that SketchUp itself is presented in multiple different forms, including a web version, a tablet version, and a desktop version, makes it even more challenging to find software that is on par with SketchUp’s capabilities.

As such, we have managed to present several alternatives to SketchUp in this article. Some of them are only useful for specific tasks, such as model generation, floor planning, or sketching, while others offer complete sets of features that closely represent SketchUp’s own. This kind of selection should be enough to cover the needs of many different potential clients who might choose not to use SketchUp for one reason or another.

Of course, this is far from an exhaustive list of potential alternatives to SketchUp, and there are even more solutions in the overall architecture market. For example, Revizto might be a great alternative to BIM solutions such as Archicad and Revit, both of which are prominent players in the BIM market. Revizto itself offers extensive issue tracking and clash detection capabilities, as well as vast collaborative possibilities and a multitude of useful features (such as the ability to perform complete VR walkthroughs using dedicated hardware).

Frequently Asked Questions

Why would anyone need to look for an alternative to SketchUp?

While SketchUp is useful in many ways, it is also far from perfect: its rendering capabilities are very basic, it does not have any native integration with other CAD or BIM software, and most of its extensions and plugins have separate price tags. The customer’s industry of choice also makes it somewhat difficult to pick SketchUp every single time, which is why there is always a need for various SketchUp alternatives.

Is it a requirement to pay for SketchUp alternatives?

Not at all. There are multiple alternatives to SketchUp that are available for free to a certain degree. A lot of software takes the same pricing approach that SketchUp does: with a free basic version and a paid version with an extended set of features, but there are also solutions like FreeCAD that are completely free with no additional payments required.

Is there a SketchUp alternative that is best for 3D printing tasks?

While many 3D models can be directly imported for 3D printing, solutions like SelfCAD are the best fit for hobbyist-level 3D printing thanks to their built-in STL slicing capabilities. These capabilities make it easier to prepare models for the printing process and to fix some of the potential issues beforehand.

About the author
James Ocean

BIM/VDC Specialist. James Ocean is Head of BIMspiration at Revizto and keeps everything moving onwards and upwards. From supporting and teaching our internal team as well as our clients, James shows us the ins-and-outs and how to best leverage Revizto to maximize workflows, cut costs, and get all types of projects through the finish line.

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SketchUp Alternatives in 2024: Free & Paid Software Apps SketchUp is a popular sketching and modeling solution that is surprisingly user-friendly and can have plenty of additional features thanks to its expandability via the system of extensions and plugins. At the same time, SketchUp is not a perfect solution, and some users might be looking for alternatives for specific use cases. Our goal is to present a list of such alternatives in a convenient and useful fashion. 2024-05-29
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