Advice/Help on Modeling Curved Chair

Hi,

I’m still pretty new at Sketchup and am having some difficulties determining the best and simplest route to go to modeling certain pieces of furniture.
For example, this chair:

I can figure out the cushions, but the frame of the chair is giving me some trouble. The legs are rounded, yet seem more flattened in some areas (look at back leg near the wood base ). Looking at the legs’ silhouette, they also seem to curve very slightly inward at the banded areas, and then outward again, etc - almost a very slight “beaded” look. And then, to top that off, each leg as a whole seems to have a slight curve. All of these variances in the curves are greatly confusing me… I can’t seem to figure out a good method of action to model this frame. :pensive:

If you were given this chair to model, how would you go about doing it? Any picture examples you’d like to include would be very helpful. I really want to get better at Sketchup - thanks in advance for any and all help!

Hey Bailey,
I’m still learning myself but I ran across this man’s work the other day and I think he must have a chair similar to this that you could look at, tear apart. You might even be able to talk to him about it.

https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/by/DavidHeim

It’s a very large library so be warned, but it’s very smart looking modeling in my opinion.

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Thank you for the reference - I took a peek and he does have a lot of good stuff in there!

Sure does…I have had a bit of interaction with him and it looks like he even does paid training sessions. You might consider that.

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In SketchUp, as with all design, a key question to ask yourself is “what is the purpose of the thing I’m about to make”. Sketchup is capable of just about whatever degree of precision you have the time and patience for, but often an exact recreation down to the .001 inch is not needed and not the best use of time. Will this model be used for construction drawings to communicate to a builder how to build the chair? Will it be used for visualizing the furniture in situ within the context of a larger architectural model? Or will it be a rendered image for a catalogue? Let the end purpose inform the method of building the model.

For example, the laced wicker sides of this chair could be modeled individually as a grid of tiny woven 3d filaments, which would be tedious and an enormous file, or you could apply a transparent .png texture to a single surface which would take 1 min and look exactly the same from 5’ away in the model.

Even if this is just an exercise to better understand SketchuUp it’s good to know what you might want to use the resulting model for and plan accordingly. I would start with trying to recreate the basic shape, and then successfully texturing the model to recreate the image of the details on a simplified surface.
If you really wanted to explore the deep end, recreating the bulges and rounded shapes of this chair could be an extensive learning opportunity for modeling organic shapes, using extensions like SUbD, or quad face tools. But first learn walk, then learn run.

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I appreciate the good words about the models I have in the 3D Warehouse
As endlessfix says, learn to walk before you learn to run. So if you’re interested in modelng furniture, begin with some simple pieces–occasional tables or Arts & Crafts sofas and chairs. As a rule, these pieces use fairly simple joinery and are pretty straightforward in design. But study as many sources as you can find to learn how stuff gets put together. This will help you understand how Tab A fits into Slot B.
When you’re ready to tackle a piece with lots of curves and angles–like the chair in the photo–here are a few pieces of advice.
Find sources with good front, back, and side views. The more views, the better you’ll be able to gauge the shape and angle of rear legs, the shape of the seat, and so on. Be sure you have all the critical dimensions–height, width, depth, and seat height.
I import images into SketchUp and trace over them for the shape of key components–seat rails, legs, crest rails. I don’t do a matched photo from a 3/4 view; I find that too difficult. I work from straight-on front or side views. Still, you won’t have all the dimensions you need. So you’ll have to make an educated guess about the thickness of seat rails or, sometimes, the thickness of back legs.
Keep in mind, too, that chairs are almost always symmetrical. That means you only need to model half, then copy and flip the half to complete the model.
Hope this helps.
Best,
dh

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He knows whereof he speaks. Check it out https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/by/DavidHeim

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That is an excellent point. :sweat_smile: I am primarily a graphic designer, but just began working at an interior design firm. Per their request, I’m learning Sketchup in order to create room renderings for their clients. You’re right, it’s unlikely that being exact down to .001 inch on each piece of furniture will add much to the room concept as a whole (I can tend to be a bit of a perfectionist).

I will definitely take your advice to practice - begin more basic and build from there. I do have some plugins I’ve been playing around with (SubD and some others) and have had some success with those. I just need to not get ahead of myself. :slightly_smiling_face:

Thank you so much for your response!

Thank you so much for your advice, and I definitely agree with the others that you have some amazing models in the 3D Warehouse!

I will definitely try to practice with some more basic pieces first, and that’s a good note on working from a front/side view in Match Photo. Attempting to work from 3/4 view has been rather difficult starting out.

Thank you again for all the useful information - this helps immensely!

For all the talk about walking before running, know that it’s OK to push yourself. Otherwise, you’ll never get past a slow trot. One thing that helped me was to create SketchUp models from plans in books–especially “Construction of American Furniture Treasures,” by Lester Margon. (You can get the paperback from Amazon for a couple of bucks.) It’s full of measured drawings that are mostly on the money. Photocopy the plans, import them as images, and trace over them. Not only will this give you practice in modeling curvy stuff, it will also give you good insight into how furniture is constructed.

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Excellent idea - I’m going to go search for that book now. Thank you so much!

As a beginner, if you want to learn, you can download the 3D model of a furniture (chair, sofa, etc … from 3Dwarehouse).
You will already have the dimensions and the possibility to view it from any position.
Save the 3-4 views you need (top, front, back, side) and start modeling. In parallel, follow tutorials on the technique you can use.

Already having the 3D model, you can at any time check to see if what you draw is close to the original.

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Good advice! Thank you!

Going to make an attempt myself on this one if you don’t mind. Will post progress and questions. Do you have a model # for it or more images of all sides to work from? Might be fun to see it develop in the thread. I know I need lots of practice.

Think I will follow your advice and go thru stages, saving the complex shaping of the cane and modeling the weave for the very last.

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Sounds like a great idea! I’d love to see how you progress with it.
Here is the name of the chair and model number:

Belvedere Cane Lounge Chair
No. 7527-70

Perhaps also have a look at this Lloyd Loom Amy chair I modelled - it’s on the 3D Warehouse at

Have a look at how it is modelled. The sides and back are just textures.

I probably used Fredo6’s Curviloft plugin to create the compound curved side, though you could do it manually by ‘stitching’ between the sides, back and arms - use menu View/Hidden geometry to see the hidden lines that make up the surface, and menu View/Face style/Monochrome to see the surfaces more clearly.

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Thank you so much! This definitely does help.