Simplifying 3Dwarehouse models for use as entourage

Continuing the discussion from No idea how to create this mop head. any suggestions?:
I was thinking it might be helpful to do just that, and get some feedback.

Some of the results demonstrate DRASTIC reductions in edge and face counts, but more modest reductions in file size, depending on the size of textures used and what proportion of the file size they account for.


Bookcase and desk - original and (1.3 MB)

~7500 edges, ~3000 faces, 2 groups, 1.4MB

Simple version:
368 edges, 99 faces, 31 component instances, 470KB

Things I did to get the simple model:
1 Omit irrelevant details
You can hardly see the cupboard doors under the desk - I just left them out. I similarly left out the runners for the slide-out keyboard tray (gray in the original image).

2 Reduce the shapes to simple outlines, modelled as components
At the range you normally view entourage there is no point in modelling (for example) the individual boards that make up the cupboard and drawer fronts. The simple model has just boxes for the base unit, and one each for uprights and top of the bookcase

The original is modelled with no use of components, and only a few groups. I can’t understand how the modeller did this - it’s much harder! For example, the moulding on the front of the bookcase and the whole of the rest of it is simply loose geometry, all connected.

Even that is modelled it totally excessive detail - here’s an image of the rosette at the top, close up:

The “carving” is recessed into the upright, and each individual arc round the rosette is both duplicated (surface and recess) and composed of 12 individual segments EACH.

The centre of the rosette was a circle of 36 edges, again, doubled.

Here’s the replacement, again excessively close up:

3 Omit invisible faces
The unit has its back to the angle in a wall. So I deleted all the rear and bottom faces in every component including the shelves, which are now only two faces each.

**4 Reduce faceting or remove rounded edges and soften a sharp edge instead **
The desk edging has 12-segment half cylinders edges

I reduced it to a square softened edge

5 Replace complex geometry by an image
I redrew the rosette using an irregular pentagon instead of the complex arcs, and copied the face of the moulding as lines into a new model (using thomthom’s Selection Toys to get just the lines).

I made this into an image using a screen grab and Mac Preview to make the background transparent (use an image editor of your own choice on Windows that will support transparency in a PNG screen grab).

I imported the image onto a face placed a small amount in front of the uprights, made into a component, and copied across to the other uprights.

That made a texture which I used, rotated and positioned across the top, to model the moulding lines there.

The keyboard and mouse are complex 3D objects, modelled as usual with totally over-the-top detail: the keyboard has individually drawn keytops and sculptured rounded edges:

I replaced it with a screen grab from the internet of the top view of a keyboard (and mouse), made the outer background transparent, and imported it onto a single face, with hidden edges, to replace keyboard and separately the mouse.

Blurry this close up, but quite adequate at an reasonable distance.

6 Make separating lines outside the underlying component so they don’t create faces
The lines separating the door fronts from the cupboard are all drawn ‘outside’ the base units, and I deleted any faces created while drawing them. That sharply reduces the face count.
Here’s the bottom left corner of the base unit under the bookcase:

The front of the base unit is only one face.

7. Reduce face count on rounded edges
The original handles were full cylinders with ends. I replaced them by a single face, spaced away from the drawer front.

Sometimes, it is enough to reduce ‘cylinder’ face count from the default 24 to 8, 6 or even 4, and from even a small distance it still ‘looks round’ but the handles here are not important enough to need more than a 2D representation.

8 Reduce texture and image size where possible
The computer monitor used an image (not as a texture) 472 x 314px for the screen display. I reduced it by 50% in each direction. It’s still probably bigger than necessary, and will rarely take up even 100px wide when rendered in the scene

9 Replace complex solid geometry by an image on FaceMe components
Not used in this model, but I did it for a complex table and chairs:

Table and chairs - simple.skp (342.6 KB)
Table and chairs - original.skp (1.1 MB)
The table and chair legs are all FaceMe components, with images of the original legs imported onto a simple rectangular face with hidden edges, and background transparency in the image. The table leg feet are now a simple square with an image, with the FaceMe leg centred above it.

46,372 edges, 22,267 faces, 1.2MB
731 edges, 371 faces, 393KB


Thank you for posting this. I think this info is so significant that it should be highlighted for all users to easily refer to.

Its very kind of you to say so.

I don’t have the power to do that, or the knowledge of how to, but perhaps one of the moderators might do so?

And as far as I know, it’s all my own invention - I’ve not seen anything like it, though @DaveR often comments (and I now quite understand why!) that he often redraws things, rather than use the originals from the warehouse.

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Yes. I find it’s often easier to draw a suitable component or model myself than it is to make a poorly drawn Warehouse model usable.

I’m curious, John. Did you track your time spent repairing that desk model? I wonder how it compares to the time you’d have spent drawing a new efficient desk.

Took about 1-3 hours each, depending on the complexity. Or possibly a little more - I wan’t accurately tracking my time, since I’ve been retired for some years, and enjoy (up to a point, anyway) working out how to do new things with SketchUp and in other contexts.

In effect, what I did WAS draw a new desk - I just drew it over the existing geometry in the same model, then grabbed and reused the textures - sometimes on the whole component, sometimes on individual faces. Made the result into a component, then did Save As…

I made the first one (not the desk) in two separate models, but found it was more efficient to do it in one, rather than having to switch back and forth with a Tape Mearure.

Wow! That’s a lot of time to spend. Especially if you have to do that for a number of pieces in a larger model.

When I do want to use the same dimensions as the original, which isn’t very often because of the way they’re usually drawn, I do find it’s easier to do it in the same file rather than switching between files.

Remember after cleaning up to do a Purge All.

I know - but as I said, my time isn’t chargeable (now anyway!).

But Scott Baker’s( @NewThinking2) model, which I want to help him finish, had become TOTALLY unmanageable less than half finished, and needed drastic pruning. Was taking tens of seconds just to change viewpoint, and over 250MB.

At least working in the original saved me having to work out the designs from scratch!

Yes, did that, usually before first saving, sometimes had to go back if I hadn’t remembered.

Thanks for doing all this, John. You have made invaluable contributions to the project, possibly irreplaceable ones. Certainly you saved me an enormous amount of time and improved the quality in a major way.

It’s good that we could keep the artistic essence of the furniture without having to carry all that processing baggage. The 3D Warehouse models are designed to be as realistic and intricate models as possible since they are designed to sell, or at least showcase, the thing being modeled. On a project as large as RiverArch, with just two of us working on it, there really isn’t time to get into the furniture design process. But the processing time was really making the model unusable, especially on my 9-year old iMac with only 256MB on video and 4GB RAM, at least for another week until my new machine comes.

Having said all that though, I have been able to analyze very closely - because I’ve had no choice - what slows down SU the most. Even with the simplified model, if you zoom out and have a lot of components (really, edges and faces) showing, the machine slows dramatically. This is true even in the <40MB 3rd floor model, which is a fraction of the 270MB full model. I’ve been finishing up the apts. on level 3 and it slows a lot when I zoom out and have to move things around, like when I mirror portions of one apt. to another, which is often. The work you’ve done certainly helps, quite a bit, but these fundamental realities are still there.
Turning off color helps a little. Turning off layers helps most of all.

Maybe future editions of SU will be more efficient in not processing what is actually invisible to the viewer.

That prompts a further thought. Once you have mirrored or copied a set of apartments, or any other replicated entourage, put the copies on a separate layer and turn them off (or don’t even copy them in the first place) until you need the view of the whole.

Or even just leave a few different ‘show apartments’ turned on.

I’m not convinced of that, though it may be true for some. If it were a professional outfit doing the modelling, I’d hope they would use better techniques.

I know some are just converted from professional CAD models, but most look to me like amateurs copying something of their own just to prove to themselves they can do it.

EDIT: As for the reason for their doing it, if I were feeling cynical, I would think it must be self evident, as in Ambrose Bierce’s (The Devil’s Dictionary, ca 1911) definition: “SELF-EVIDENT, adj. Evident to one’s self and to nobody else”.

Another example of over-the-top detail, on an otherwise fairly useful Dynamic Component - a resizable door.

This was the original door handle:

HandleF - original.skp (154.0 KB)
A pair for each door, and hundreds of doors…
Each handle has 24-segment circles, and 12-segment arcs for the curve at each end

Edges 1416, faces 676, and file size 154KB.

Simplified version, redrawn with 8-segment circles and just two 45° bends for the curved ends of the handle (in effect, a one-segment arc) for FollowMe path:

HandleF simple.skp (31.5 KB)

Edges 112, faces 50, file size 32KB

And shown at several times the normal view size in the larger model: can you tell which version this is?

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