Soap Skin Pillow: Part 1 – Build the Pillow Shape

Hi all, sorry for the lack of posting last week. It was a bit crazy with the upcoming release of a new book – stay tuned for our announcement!

I recently posted a four-part series on “Perfect Pillows.” That technique was a bit of a cheat – using a more or less rectangular block with rounded edges to approximate the organic shape of a pillow. Since nobody looks that closely at small details like throw pillows, these pillows are good enough for most models. (If you didn’t read that series, it would be good background before diving right into this one.)

Pillows 42

If you do a lot of interior design work, and want pillows that are a bit more realistic, this three-part series will show you another way to make them. It’s just a teeny bit more involved. But once you get the basic shape made, you can use that model for any pillow project that comes your way.

In this first part, I’ll show how to make the basic pillow shape.

Import a Pillow Image

I’ll use this image of a pillow that I found via a search for “Mandala pillow.” I like this image because it’s symmetric, showing four evenly pointed corners. Find something similar that you like, or right-click on this image and save it.

Let’s make this a 16″ x 16″ pillow. In SketchUp, make a rectangle of that size, on the ground, at the origin.

(Why not make it vertical? You might like creating pillows in Front view, but with all the image projecting we’re going to do later, it’s easier to keep everything parallel to the ground.)

Choose File / Import, look for image files, find your pillow picture, and bring it in as a texture.

Place the image anywhere inside the pillow rectangle.

Right-click on the image and choose Texture / Position. If you see four multi-colored pins, right-click and unselect Fixed Pins. We want the four identical pins shown below (“Free Pins”).

For each free pin, click to lift it up and place it on a corner of the pillow image. Then drag each pin to its corner of the pillow rectangle.

Right-click and choose Done.

Complete the Pillow Shape

To model the corners, draw a 2 Point Arc like this, following the curvy pillow shape.

Select the arc, or the narrow face made by the arc, and activate Rotate. Find the center of the rectangle (square, actually) and place the protractor there.

Tap the Ctrl (PC) or Option (Mac) key to make copies. Then click any two adjacent corner points – the rotation angle should be 90 degrees.

Just after that copy is placed, type 3x and press Enter. This creates three copies instead of one, for four total arcs.

Erase the straight edges of the rectangle.

Next, in Part 2, we’ll use the awesome Soap Skin & Bubble extension to “puff up” the pillow.


About Bonnie Roskes

Bonnie Roskes has been writing tutorial-style projects on 3D modeling software, primarily SketchUp, since 2001. Her website, 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.