Creating SketchUp Models from Pictures
The ideal way to create SketchUp models of furniture from pictures is to take front-on and end-on views with a digital camera. Also take overall measurements. Then the .jpg images can then be imported to SketchUp and placed on the Red/ Blue and Green/Blue planes and scaled. From there it is a simple matter of drawing over top of the images and reconstructing the furniture piece.
One of my students sent me the image above and asked how I might model it in SketchUp with dimensions of 23” high, 30” long and 20” deep. I don’t know whether the image in the picture has these dimensions or he just wanted his to be this size. And obviously this is neither a front-on nor end-on view. There is no way to import this into SketchUp with the image aligned to either the Red/Blue or Green/Blue plane. So what is one to do?
No need to panic; simply import the image into a blank SketchUp model on to the Red/Green plane as is. Hint: Open a new model, choose Camera/Parallel Projection and front view; drag and drop the image onto the Red/Blue plane. Orient one leg corner on the origin as close as possible. Use the Tape Measure tool to measure a dimension you want to specify. In my case, I measured the longest part of the top and it came to approximately 4 inches. Before changing context I typed 20” and Enter. A dialog box asked if I wanted to scale the entire model and I answered yes. I then re-measured the top as accurately as possible and got ~29 63/64 – close enough for my purposes. I then measured the height of the table and got ~29 25/64, not 23” as my student wanted. Hey! You can’t have everything. So I had to wing it.
I took as many measurements as I could, using the Tape Measure tool. In particular I wanted the size of the legs at the bottom and top so that the taper came out right. I couldn’t accurately measure the taper angle so I made some assumptions. I assumed that if the top had the same length and width but was a perfect rectangle (instead of rounded at the ends) that the corner of the top would align in the Blue axis with the outside corner of the leg. Then I simply measured from the end edge and front edge of the top to where the leg ended on the top surface.
I assumed that the joinery was mortise and tenon for the aprons and legs. The wedge joinery I intentionally exaggerated (made large) for visual purposes; in the shop this would be a hand cut with no measurements, only by eye. The resulting model is shone below.
This was a quick modeling effort. Had I spent more time I could have gotten better results. But this is just one more example of how you can easily construct precise shop drawings from a set of pictures and measurements; in this case one picture with a less than ideal photo angle and desired measurements.
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