Starting a New Project
More often now, I’m starting new projects with a search for images (photos). I , or a member of my family, has an idea for a new furniture project. There may be a picture in a book, newspaper or magazine but not enough to move forward on the design.
This was the case recently in reproducing the Titanic Deck Chair. I spent several days Googling deck chair images – ones that would be helpful in developing a SketchUp model. It is very encouraging when I find pictures that are “straight-on”, that is side and front views. However, these are not always available. I’m also searching for data – length, width, and height information.
Sometimes I’m forced to rely on non-orthographic pictures and they will work in SketchUp using the Photo Match capability. In the case of my most recent project, I found a perspective photo that worked quite well. In Googling for images, it helps to know the designer/maker. And sometimes these famous pieces have specific names that narrow the search. In this case, I had both – a Wegner GE 375 Paddle Chair. Here’s how I started the project using this photo.
When you click on Import a photo in SketchUp, there are three options – import as image, import as a texture, or import as a Matched Photo. Below I’ve used the Photo Match option and you can see the colored perspective bars and the Match Photo dialog box.
There is no need to straighten the image or to re-size the model at this time. After positioning the origin (where the blue, green, and red axes connect) and the perspective bars on their respective axes of the image, the screen will look like the following:
Before tracing over the photo, I like to establish a plane or face at the location of a known component. In this case, as shown below, the face is created on the red/blue axis at the location of the outer face of the lower leg component. This will help the traceover of the leg with the Line Tool.
Below I’m tracing over the shape of the lower leg. After completing the face, I double click on the shape and make it a Group.
I use the Push/Pull Tool to give the lower leg its thickness. It helps to change the Style to X-ray, so you can stop the push/pull at the proper thickness on the image. Note that I don’t worry about the dimensions at this stage. My intent is to get major shapes, proportions and positions of components in place. There will be adjustments for sure.
On that same face, my next step is to re-create the face of the Back Stile as shown below.
After giving the Stile its thickness, I make a copy of the two components and move them to the other side of the chair along the green axis.
Now that the width of the chair is established, I can rough-in the back stretchers and slats.
When you “Orbit” your mouse, the picture temporarily disappears leaving the modeled parts alone as shown below. I do this orbit often during the process of building the model to ensure that I’m getting the components structured properly. To continue with the Photo Match, you can click on Camera/Edit Photo Match.
For me getting this far with Photo Match is enough; I’ve got what I want – the main structure, component location, and proportional sizing. I can now re-size the entire model using the Tape Measure Tool and a known dimension. There is a lot of work and editing to do, but having a representative model at this stage is extremely helpful.
This is a picture of my completed design model including all joinery and hardware.
And this is the status of the actual shop build in spalted silver maple.