I already mentioned that I love using 3D to help me visualize the scenes in my novels. Here, I’ll go into some details of what I use, what models I create, and what’s their purpose.
Tool of the trade
I use the simplest, cheapest (as in free) and easiest to use 3D software, in my humble opinion: Google Sketchup (They’re not paying me to write this). It comes with both a standard set of tools to create your own models, but also a vast library of existing models, all made by a large community of Sketchup users who kindly share their work.
Using pre-made scenes
Sometimes I just download an entire pre-made scene, to check for visual details, dimensions, etc. Here, I downloaded a portion of a Venice canal, to examine the details of the bridge, it’s height, the depth of the canal, and get a general feeling for the scene I was writing.
This was completed by research on Google maps, where I’d use street view to determine exactly where the characters are, what they are seeing, what are the obstacles … This is even more useful than any of my own pics or memories. 🙂
Making my own models
Cool as it may be, Sketchup doesn’t have everything I need ready for use, so I build my own models, to get a feeling for the location in the book, and again, help me describe what my characters see as they navigate in a scene. Below, I modeled March’s cubicle house of Cape Saint Francis, and did a preliminary model of a building in Venice, where some scenes occur (it’s unfinished).
It’s also super useful for actions scenes, to see what’s where and when, check the distances, here again. In this scene, I wanted to know what was possible or not, determine a shooting angle, and whether the helicopter could both miss car 1 and hit car 2, and what would be the distance between the projectile and car 1’s roof.