Modelling furniture with limited reference images

I have a series of furniture models I need to recreate in SketchUp. All the models have dimensions so I have a good starting point in terms of volume. However not all of the reference furniture has clear front, side and top drawings or images. Which would be helpful to model from.

Here’s an example bedside table where I only have a 3/4 angle.

Has anyone got any good tips for how to model this sort of thing either more easily, ie tracing or more accurately?

So far I’ve dropped the 3/4 angle shot into SU, made a cubic box that represents the dims, and then model everything inside that volume. It’s a lot of eyeballing, and looks ok. But I’d be interested to hear how others would approach it.

I model furniture from photos quite frequently and rarely are the images suitable for tracing. With a few basic dimensions and some educated guesses about joinery and such, it’s usually not too difficult.

Sometimes you can use Match Photo to help but it’s rare that photos of furniture are suitable for that because the images have usually been cropped or otherwise manipulated which wrecks them for Match Photo. I tried with this one and it definitely has been modified so it isn’t suitable at all.

How would you be using this model once you have it? What information do you need out of it?

Edit to add: Consider how the piece would have been built. Since this is a commercially made piece of furniture, think about how the would build it and use that to inform how you create the model.

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Thanks for the suggestions.

I’d tried using Match Photo with limited success. As you’ve encountered as well.

I’d be using if for a series of interior renders. So with the dims provided on the producers website I had have good enough information to determine what floor space will be taken up by each piece of furniture. If the model looks like the piece of furniture that it’s representing then that will be good enough. But if I’m able to get it pretty accurate via a trace then that would be even better.

Edit: Some of the pieces of furniture that I need to model will never have been seen by me. So I’m purely going off the photo, which might mean there’s some big guesstimates on design and build of each piece of furniture to be modelled.

I am definitely not the woodworker here, though I did get a Grade 1 CSE pass, possibly before DaveR was born. But, I had an idea on making match photo more achievable. I took a typical photo into Photoshop, and used the lasso tool to help make some much further away red and green axis locations. That helped, though I did still cheat a red axis to make blue be correct. But not by much.

Here is the start of my model, you can see the extra blobs I had made in Photoshop. I wasn’t carefully grouping things, this is all same level raw geometry, just really to show if the extra blobs had helped.

bedsidetable.skp (366.9 KB)

Picture of match photo stage.

Even so, I tried the same on the other model. It wasn’t quite as successful, but still ok.

table2.skp (205.8 KB)

Really interesting @colin. I know there’s a perspective grid in Illustrator. So there may be one in Photoshop.

To be honest I’m not trying to find the quickest way to model all the items, most of the time that is a constraint. I’m interested to see to hear how other people would approach the task and I find out something new ways that might benefit others.

I was thinking about trying to extract a front / side view from the 3/4 photo. It might be possible to marquee the side and front panels and then skew them to fit the known dimensions. It’s something I need to have an experiment with.

Between the photo of this piece and the assembly instructions, I think there’s enough information to make some educated guesses in order to model the piece. For example, the overall width (35cm) and the drawer width (28cm) tells you approximately how thick the side pieces need to be. 19cm left what I felt was too wide a gap between the drawer and the sides. So I made the sides and horizontal pieces 20 cm. I reckoned the maximum height of the sides by subtracting the length of the legs from the overall height. and I used drawings from the assembly instructions to rough in the legs and the aprons that hold them in place. More educated guesses. And, like Dave R., I’m not happy with the splay of the legs.
nightstand.skp (57.5 KB)

Yeah, compound angled parts are very difficult to gauge without side and front views and near two-point perspective.

I’m not sure those legs have a compound angle. I think they have uniform thickness and have been cut to shape. If I were making this piece as a flat-pack item, I think that’s how I’d do it–two cuts at the tablesaw and you’re done.

The side panels have a top face that is not level and a front face that is not plumb, so don’t use those as references for match photo axes. The legs are tapered in both dimensions too.

Yeah, I struggle with the legs, but the box is easy.

You can see the slanted front with the guidelines.

I have to stop now.

Closer, but still not quite right with the legs. I missed with the symmetry. Convincing enough though. I left it rough with evidence of its creation.

Table Match Photo V1,1 20200517v17.skp (465.0 KB)

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Wow, you’ve done a pretty good job with this one. I’m impressed by how well you’ve done with the Match Photo. I thought that was a bit of dead-end. Any tips on how you managed to get such a good result.

It’s really interesting to see how each of you have approached the task at hand, considering how it’s made. To reiterate in my original post, I included the side table as a reference of one piece of furniture and the lack of top, front, side projections. I need to take the same approach to a wide range of furniture. There are things like sofas, sideboards and chairs that all need to be modelled with a variety of references. Some are helpfully detailed or include CAD-like drawings.

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A good eye for perspective is a help. The top and front edges not being square to everything else is a bit of a trap on this one for using Match Photo. I thought I was onto something with the leg construction, but when I apply symmetry, it’s not quite working, and I’m still scratching my head to improve on it. I made a 45° build plane to try and trace off the leg profile, then make half the leg and mirror the other side. I did resort to Joint Push-Pulll to extend the profile up to the underside.

I actually have a lesson on building a stool from a photo just about ready to go on YouTube. Maybe this week I’ll have time to launch it.

Better. I had to play with the starting point of the build plane.

Table Match Photo V1,2 20200517v17.skp (479.6 KB)

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