I got started modeling when someone posted a model of Tails from Sonic the Hedgehog, but the poly count was too high, so they asked if someone could simplify it. Still working on it! However, in the process of slowly editing it and making other models, I've learned an quite a bit more about Sketchup than I ever learned from any video or tutorial.
I think the difference between using Sketchup vs. other 3D programs is that with Sketchup, you kind of have to trick the program into doing what you want, as opposed to just knowing what you want to do and how to do it. There's no preset tool for making geometric shapes, but with the Circle tool and the Follow Me tool you can make all kinds of funky stuff. No, there's no way to control texture meshing in Sketchup, but you can "Project" a texture from a flat surface onto a curved one (FYI, do this onto a sphere and the texture tiles so that the back half of the sphere is identical to the front), and with the Line and Arc tools you can draw all kinds of patterns onto a shape.
I usually compare it to using MSPaint vs. Photoshop. On a very basic level you're technically capable of doing the same thing with each program. Paint is going to have simpler tools and interface, but its abilities will be limited. Photoshop is going to have an ecksbawksheug assortment of tools and filters, but until you learn how to use them right, you're likely to shop your way to disaster.
Sketchup is setup to work as a architectural/design application. You'll see in a lot of tutorial videos people are making copies of famous buildings, or their own homes. Part of this is because you're encouraged to upload your finished models for use with Google Earth. I intend on checking out some other 3D apps in the future, just so that I have a wider range of options.
I like Sketchup because:
- It has a vast assortment of how-tos, feature lists, plug-ins and videos that can walk you through anything you're confused about
- You have access to the 3D Warehouse, where you can pick from many prefabricated model for your papercraft modifying pleasure, and includes (surprise!) more tutorials,
- It's free!
- It's pseudo-compatible with Pepakura Designer.
As mentioned earlier, I gotta warn about the shitty texture support, and Pepakura seems to pick and choose when it wants to recognize color/lines/texture from exported Sketchup models (Exported in Google Earth 4 .kmz format) and when it doesn't. I haven't done a whole lot with it besides using spheres, but you can use Anim8or to quickly apply a texture, export the model as .3Ds and then import into Sketchup. Details Here.
That's about all I can offer for now. Sorry for the long rant. I'm bad at summarizing. Catch me a year or so down the road and I might be going on about how awful Sketchup is and preaching about some other software, so take that for what it's worth. ;)