I've noticed that a couple people around here use Sketchup to model, but I have yet to see someone successfully import a SU model into Freespace 2, mostly due to Sketchup's horrific exporters butchering the model on export.
Well I have found this exporter (http://shaxam.com/files/lwo_export-0.0.6.zip
) that allows almost flawless export of Sketchup models to .LWO format, where from there they can be touched up and exported properly to .POF.
What you will need:
Sketchup v5.0 or above
Another program that allows welding of vertices and adjustment of smoothing groups (I use Milkshape 3D).
POFCS or 3DS Max with the exporter plugin (I used the latter, but I don't use Max cuz it's too hard
). Truespace works if you don't have Max.
1) Install the plugin by coping the "lwo_export" file into your plugins directory. Launch Sketchup.
2) Check to see if the plugin installed properly. Go to Window-->Preferances-->Extensions, and check "Basic LWO Exporter". It will show up your "Tools" drop down menu.
3) Open the model you want to export. MAKE SURE TO DELETE ANY DETAIL LINES, i.e, if you drew a line on a surface to show detail, but it's not actually modeled - DELETE IT. When the model exports, these lines will be turned into vertexes, and if you made a closed object with them, they'll create faces and will waste a lot of polies.
4) Go to Tools-->LWO Exporter (if yours is weird like mine and showed two of them there, you can click either one, they both work). Export to your chosen directory.
5) Open the .LWO in 3D Exploration. It may show up as transparent - I don't know what's causing this, but when I import into MS3D it doesn't show up that way, so I guess it's not a problem. Go to Tools --> Invert Face Orientation, and click. Then go to Tools --> Join Equal Points.
6) Export to whatever format your modeling program prefers.
--- Here's where it gets tricky. I used Milkshape to do these steps, so I'll explain them using that program. If you want to use a different program, go ahead.
7) If you're using Milkshape, export to .3DS, and then open up Milkshape. Import the file (make sure auto-smooth is ON). Select all and go to Vertex-->Weld Together (shortcut Ctrl-W).
8) Inspect the model for smoothing errors. You'll probably get a few from the welding process, and you'll probably have a bit more from the actual import. Fix as necessary (what's useful is right clicking on the 3D view and selecting "Colored Smoothing Groups").
9) Fix errors as necessary and re-export to your chosen format. I used .3DS and that worked well, so I'd suggest that.
10) Import into either Truespace or Max, and do your thing (follow Kara's excellent ship creation guide).
11) Export and convert! (Or convert straight from Max if you have that).