How do I make a fluted column like the one in the picture

I have a commission to render a kitchen. The island has a round fluted column. I’d like to include the flutes in the rendering, if possible. I’m using Podium for the final image.

The way I would do it is to draw the volume of the cut and intersect it with the column. I think I’ve done a tutorial. I’ll see if I can find it.

No luck on the old tutorial but see if this helps. There are a number of approaches and I expect someone else will be along with another one.

Draw a profile and path for Follow Me to make the volume of space for flute “cutter”.
Draw the column. In this case I’ve drawing a sector of the column starting with a circle and some radii.
After deleting the rest of the circle, pull it up with Push/Pull.
Intersect the “cutter” shape with the sector of the column and then delete the unneeded faces.
Copy/Rotate the column sector to make a radial array. In this case it was rotate 30°, Enter, x11, Enter to make the required number of copies. The exact angle for the sector and the number will be determined by the number of flutes you want. My column has 12 flutes.
Finally erase the edges on the top and bottom and soften the rest of the edges.

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Okay, here’s a slightly different method:



Both ideas look like they’ll work. Gully, you did all of the work… is there any way to send me the SKP file? It would save a bunch of time on a biG project.

I think it would be more beneficial for you to give it a whirl yourself. The work entailed is really not much, particularly considering you need model only one flute and one column. The rest is copies.

I hope you’re starting your big project because you expect to enjoy doing it.


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I thought you’d say that… thanks to you and Dave for the input. I will apply it.

Hi mmarcovitch, hi folks.

Click in sequence on the scenes tabs of this SU file (old tutorial) to see a way of making the flutes.

Just ideas.


Fluted_column2.skp (1.1 MB)

I finally got it. But it wasn’t as I would have expected. I was working with the columns in actual size, 3" in diameter, and was using a flute that was 1/4" across. I couldn’t get the flutes to lathe with the ends rounded. And then when I attempted to embed them into the column, intersected their faces and attempted to remove the outer half, the whole flute disappear and all that was left was the outline on the column’s surface. I tried this multiple times. Finally I tried to do a sample flute lathe, Follow-me operation, but made the shapes much larger. It worked. It created a properly shaped flute-shaped cylinder. So I decided to scale the entire column up 300%, went through all the steps again, and it worked! The flutes behaved properly and were perfectly shaped into the column. I then reduced the image after making the whole thing a component, by .33% and everything stayed put. I know I’ve read somewhere that SU does have trouble working in smaller thresholds. I suppose this was an example of that. Anyone have any opinion on the subject?

Which leads me to another problem/challenge. When I attempted to import this model into the kitchen model, I ran into a stability problem that was nerve wracking. The object would appear on the floor with the “Move” icon on the screen. The twirling rainbow would start turning and the object would jump to another location, then another whirling rainbow, and this went on and on. After a number of tries, shutting down all other open aps, and rebooting, I finally got it to stand still, so I could actually position it where I wanted it. I think my MacBook Pro w/ El Capitan OS X 10.11.4, 16 GB ram, 500 GB SS Drive, Intel Core 4 I7 2.5 GHz processor and 2 GB ram was meeting its limit and I still have a lot of kitchen to “build”. I’m attaching the whole file for your edification.

I just tried uploading the file and it says it’s too big. Perhaps, that’s why things are behaving so badly. What are some techniques for limiting the number of elements in the drawing so the system can hand it?

Your model look good from the screen shot.

Scaling up is a standard method used when small geometry is going to be create.

As for strategies to keep file size down, there are several. The first thing is to purge unused content. Window>Model Info>Statistics.

When you are drawing the model you can use some other techniques to help keep file size down. A big one is limiting the amount of geometry created. In your application of the fluted columns here, you really don’t need the flutes to be incredibly detailed. The same would apply to the door frame profiles and the base molding. You could reduce the number of segments used for the various curves, probably by a great deal, and it wouldn’t show.

There are some other options as well but those are the big ones.

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You seem to have omitted the conical bevel at the top of the square base.


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The transition to the pommel appears to be square in the original photo, though.

Hmm. Right you are. Disregard the bevel alarm.


I’ll disregard the bevel suggestion also. Yes, the tops are dead flat. Can I change the number of segments on curves after they’re drawn. I’m thinking about producing the various components in separate files and not bringing them all together until the final version. I know, for example, that the newel posts are very ornate in my model and is much simpler in the real room. I also have to decide just how much detail to include in the cabinetry. Most of the cabinets are not changing from their present position. What’s being modified is the stair, removal of walls, and adding the seating area. I’ve been adding the detail more for my training and less for the client’s requirements. They’re so happy just to get a reasonable likeness that whatever level of detail I settle on will be all right. I’m learning both SketchUp and Podium as I go on.

Does the file size affect that problem with placing copied objects? I really had problems with my old Windows HP, and thought that the more powerful MacBook would solve the problem. It certainly does, but I always seem to find a computer’s limit.

You can up to a point but for things like your flutes, you’ll find it easier to redraw them.

That is one method of working. You can make very simplistic proxy components that get replaced later if you need them for laying out.

Learning how to create the detail is a good thing but you need to weigh the value of adding that detail against the time you have invested.

In simple terms, yes. Typically large file sizes come from large numbers of edges and faces as well as possibly large texture images. Your graphics card has to process all that stuff to display it so the less there is, the faster and easier it is.

FWIW, if you are only using things like the columns for show, you could make a component of one sector (the fifth step in my screen shot) and then copy that for the rest of the component. Hide the seam lines and it’ll look like a whole column. For example, the newel post on the left is made of 8 instances of the component on the right.

It doesn’t reduce the total number of entities but it does help to keep file size down.


So, when should I actually load the textures on the objects. I’m using a black granite that’s on the island (and other cabinets) from Podium. I could wait till the very end to add some of those. I could just make it black with a certain amount of gloss to look like granite with the added pixel count to render the surface. I’m probably suffering from “Podiumitis”, which was similar to that of people in the 90s when first using GUI software where you had a zillion fonts and colors to choose from. I used to call it, “Ransom Note Publishing”. As people become more accustomed to using the options, things settled down a bit. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.

The answer to the question of when to add the textures is kind of subjective. In my work flow, materials get added at the end if they get added at all. I don’t always use textures for drawings I show to clients. When I’m modeling, I at least leave texture turned off and work in Monochrome face style.


I’m sure I’ve overdone my Mac’s capabilities. It’s not the first time. Since the advent of the PC, I’ve already done projects that just pushed the edge of the envelope. The stove wall has some much detail that I can’t get it to copy into the main room without cutting it up into pieces and importing a chunk at a time. While it’s a workaround, it’s also a royal pain in the butt trying to get all the piece back into registration. Ugh. The rendering was a Podium render at the preview setting.

I found that getting the door knobs and hinges to locate properly was the most frustrating part of the entire job (so far). I couldn’t get them to go to the door’s surface. They kept burying themselves into the door or shooting off many feet away.

Is there anything else I could be doing to help stabilize the system when doing complex drawings, or… do I need some monster desk top system to do it?

I’m sure it’s “over built” for the purpose. For a model like this, think theatrical set. You don’t need all the fine detail. Did you draw the appliances? What’s included that you can’t see?

There are strategies for dealing with that. When you create components, place their origins so they are easily inserted. See the following. The origin is placed at the center of the back of the knob. It sounds like you’ve placed the origin anywhere but in the right place.

You might could stand a better computer but learning to limit the detail you’re putting in will go a long way.

Ones modeling technique has a tremendous impact upon model performance.
And no amount of whiz-bang hardware will ever make a poorly constructed model perform well.
SketchUp Hardware and Software Requirements — SketchUp Help

SketchUp is engineered to make low poly models look great.
Unfortunately, many new users tend to over model details that will never be seen up close.
Learn to keep it simple. Be especially mindful of arc and circle segmentation at every step.

See this compendium of best practice performance modeling tips:
How Do I Make SketchUp Run Faster? — SketchUp Sage Site

A modeling lesson (and a bit of humor) from l’Architecte fache