As a "recovering" architect, one of my favorite applications is Sketchup. Even before Google purchased the company, it was used by a lot of architects to get their "sketches" on the computer and quickly review their design ideas and to convey them to others. I always described sketchup as "3D for mere mortals". In the early days, the company described their software as the "digital napkin sketch" as they knew architects loved the idea that a grand building design might have come from a simple sketch done on a napkin at a restaurant one afternoon.
I continue to use the software and we work with architects and designers who still use it on a regular basis. Some use the free version but most are using the pro version when working with Sketchup in business.
So the point of this post is to give my architects, designers, and generally curious folks a link to a web site full or resources for sketchup users. SketchupArtists.org has opened my eyes to how popular the software has become and the myrid of options available to professionals and ameteurs alike. With rendering plug-ins, and tutorials, and tips and tricks galore, it is certainly worth a look if you do any 3D work on the computer.
Sketchup is still a great and simple tool for the "digital napkin sketch"... but now, with the help of a ton of 3rd party tools, it can do so much more. Check out this render using V-Ray for Sketchup.