What’s the difference between SketchUp and 3DS Max?
Depends on what your goals are. Big DCC (Digital Content Creation) applications like 3DS Max are really good to learn if you’re mainly interested in making photorealistic renderings or animations. If you are looking to get a job in digital production in the entertainment industry, it won’t hurt to know one of the big DCC apps.
On the other hand, if what you’re interested in is modeling, designing and making things, I think you’ll really like SketchUp. It is much quicker to learn and much easier to use in the long run. You won’t really need to ‘study’ it much — certainly not at the level you’ll have to study Max. And there is a profoundly large community of helpful SketchUp users out there in the world who’ll happily help you get up to speed.
The reality is that no digital creative today should be happy knowing a single tool. You should try to learn as many of them as you can- each has their various strengths and weaknesses. Learn how to capitalize on that rather than getting yourself bound into a single way of designing.