Building Sofas and Cushioned Chairs in SketchUp

Hey SketchUp friends - I’m looking for some advice. I have a degree in Interior Design, and as part of my degree/program, I took a SketchUp course as well as an advanced SketchUp course. At this point in my career, I’m primarily creating 3D SketchUp models and photorealistic Podium renderings for other Interior Designers. I’ve noticed I really need to improve on building specific furniture pieces - such as custom sofas and cushioned chairs. I know there are some decent YouTube videos out there, but I’m looking for some sort of paid course to improve on those specific furniture-building skills in a more teacher-student environment. Anyone have advice on this?


First advice: Learn to cheat. If you read this forum, every day someone posts who has got his/her model totally bogged down by importing a plant or furniture component that has overly fine detail. Typical is just upholstered furniture. The game is to construct these with so few faces and edges as possible.


I actually think you should have as much detail as possible in your model and use proxies instead of the actual models to render.

I bet podium has a proxy system, if not, try other render engines.

As for chair that kind of modelling techniques, investigate this and maybe try talking with the author:

Alvis would be the one, if he’s giving lessons.

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SketchUp only has problems rendering (displaying) high detailed objects, but once loaded, the bottleneck is the RAM and processor speed, so you could use Tags to display different versions of your component (high - medium - low. - 2D - 3D etc), nested inside the main component.
The Warehouse bots could be used to generate these.

You can then manually choose which version you want.

One step further, the distance from the camera could be used to automatically choose which version is displayed, but then you would have to have a system that renders each object individually (eg. Objects far would be set to tag ‘low’, closer to ‘med’ etc)

Thank you! I’ll definitely check out the author of that sketchucation listing. Super helpful!

I didn’t realize these were options, thank you.

Who is Alvis?

It looks like he is the author here: upholstered furniture • sketchUcation • 1. Very talented!

I hope you find your course but I have to recommend this YouTube video for a couch.

Great thanks! I’m also interested in this type of modelling

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Thank you! I’ll check it out.

I am trying to illustrate my point. Here are two versions of the same chair in a quick and dirty V-Ray render. One has 3775 entities, the other 294. You are possibly able to spot which one is which, but the question is, in an average render, is the time and effort worth it? What if there is a sea of chairs?

Sorry about the crappy texturing.


I completely agree. I’ve already come across furniture with wayyyy too many entities, and then I can’t turn shadows on, or rendering takes substantially longer. It’s frustrating.

What I’m trying to learn better is how to build upholstered furniture with lots of organic curves. I’ve watched some YouTube videos on using Vertex tools and other extensions that help to build these types of pieces more efficiently, but I’m bummed to say that I haven’t quite grasped it as quickly as I’d hope to. I might just need to be a bit more patient with myself and watch more videos…

Thanks for the illustration!

And that makes your point. However, now I have to also make mine clear.

This is what a very high definition model looks like in the left. That is plainly wrong if you want to display it in Layout, for instance. But it’s what you need if you want to create photorealistic renders.

So I build simple enough proxies of the models I need as the model in the right. Most of the times I use the same chair proxy model for every chair model I have, but this one is a special case where I built the proxy as I wanted it to show in Layout for my interior design.

The proxy in the right is a placeholder for the model in the left. The model in the left doesn’t have to exist in the model for the placeholder to render it instead. So the model is very lightweight and when you hit the render button the proxy is replaced by the high definition model at render time. And it looks like this:

Some render engines support this, some might not. I’m using Thea ( and rendering inside Sketchup so I can overlap render and sketchup and you can see the differences:

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