Perfect Pillows: Part 1 – Build the Pillow Shape

SketchUp is a great tool for interior design, but organic shapes like pillows can be tough to model accurately. This four-part series will show one easy way to create the perfect pillows for your furniture.

Here’s the lovely room I want to decorate. The current pillows don’t do much for me – too plain. And I’m not a fan of the green.  Pillow model 01

Fluffy pillows aren’t super-easy to create in SketchUp. So you have three options:

  • Find realistic looking pillows in the 3D Warehouse, either painted or not. Painting organic shapes can be tough though, as I showed in the series on painting a rumpled blanket.
  • Use an extension, such as Soap Skin & Bubble to make a puffed-up shape. (I’ll show this in a later post.)
  • Build a rectangular shape and round its edges for a decent pillow approximation that’s easy to paint. This is what I’ll show in this series.

 

When I recently redid my living room, I spent hours on Etsy looking for throw pillows for our new couch and chairs. So in this room model (not my living room), I’m replacing the boring, solid pillows and replacing them with my Etsy pillows.

Pillow model 07

 

First, I removed the solid pillows in the original model. The couch and chair are part of a group, so here’s the group, open for editing, with all pillows erased. Pillow model 02

Now I’m going to let this model sit waiting, until the pillows are ready to import.

Find a Pillow Picture

I have orange accents in my living room, and two of the pillows I bought were from Etsy shop Mi Casa Bella. Each one is 16″ x 16″.Pillow model 03

I need the picture for the pillow model, so I right-clicked on the image and chose one of the saving options. So if you’re following along at home, find a picture of a pillow you like and save it.

Model the Pillow Shape

When modeling a piece of furniture or an accent object, it’s always best to create it in its own SketchUp file. Then you import it into your room model later. So open a fresh SketchUp file and switch to Front view (Camera / Standard Views / Front). This is so the pillow will be upright when imported later. Draw a 16″ x 16″ rectangle starting at the origin, and pull it forward 3″ – this is about how thick these pillows are.

Pillow model 04

No pillow looks like a box; pillows have curved sides. So add a shallow arc using the 2 Point Arc tool.

Pillow model 05

 

You can add the other three arcs manually, but it’s faster (at least for me), to copy the first one. To do that, start by selecting the arc, or select the curved face created by the arc. Pillow model 06

With the object you want copied still selected, activate the Rotate tool. To find the center of the pillow-box, hover your cursor over any two adjacent midpoints, then snap to the point where the two guide lines meet.
Pillow model 08

Tap the Ctrl key (PC) or the Option key (Mac) to make copies – you’ll see a “plus” sign added to your cursor. For the first copy, click any two adjacent corners, which creates one copy 90 degrees from the original. Pillow model 09

After the first copy is created, type 3x and press enter, which creates three copies instead of one.

Pillow model 10

Use Push/Pull to shave off the curved bits from each side. Pillow model 11

 

So that’s the basic shape. Maybe not something you’d want to rest your head on, but after we paint it, we’ll make the edges nice and round. Stay tuned for Part 2!

 

 

About Bonnie Roskes

Bonnie Roskes has been writing tutorial-style projects on 3D modeling software, primarily SketchUp, since 2001. Her website, www.3dvinci.net offers a wide variety of learning materials for all ages, from kids in grade school through design professionals. Her materials cover general 3D design, 3D printing, geometry, interior design, geo-modeling, and more, and future books are in the works. Read more about Bonnie.

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2 Comments


  1. After you click Ctl key (pc) to get the plus sign, I have to click again to get the diagonal dotted line on the protractor before I click on any adjacent corner.
    Thanks for the tip!
    -Maria

    Reply

    1. Yes that’s right – three clicks. One for the center, one for the start of rotation, and a third to end the rotation. Or instead of the third click, you can enter a rotation angle.

      Reply

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