Modeling a small chapel


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In addition to an exercise in futility I'm in the proposal phase for yet another potential altar build.  Right off the bat, I know I won't be the one to build the actual piece.  I don't have a shop and I don't think the final design will be something that I'd be all that interested in building anyway.  But, I'm doing a fair bit of modeling work in order to come up with a design for the project.


It may be that I'm going overboard in rendering all the details of the interior space of this little chapel.  But a.) it's turning out to be good practice for my Sketchup skills and b.) it'll make the final project renderings that much more sellable beautiful.


Thus far I've done a single pew which was then copied as needed, the walls of the space, the ceiling, crown molding and the nave wainscot.  Still have to do the windows proper and a lot of work on the appointments in the chancel.


Biggest lessons thus far:

  • Components and layers.  It's a common refrain but it bears repeating:  Keep everything separated into components and your life will be so much easier.  Keep everything in its own layer so you can hide and show things at will.  (This is much easier than using the "hide" command.)
  • Create and save separate files.  i.e. I made a separate file for the crown molding profile, then I made a separate file for the crown molding path in order to use the follow tool.
  • Base everything off of a single point.  In this case, the origin is the back right corner of the room.  Every component has a line that touches the origin, even if it's just a stem to help positioning things.
  • The follow tool is your friend.  This particular room is shot through with moldings, profiles and raised panels.  The follow tool is to push/pull what color HDTV is to black and white.  It's not hard to draw the profile in 2D and, once followed around a path, it adds tremendously to the finished drawing.
  • Log your hours.  Sketchup has been described as a video game for woodworkers and it is indeed fun to lose track of time.  But when the pastor asks me how long this took, I need to have a real number and documentation to prove it.






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Good job. You're absolutely right. It's easy to get lost in Skeetchup and burn time. I've designed many a useless thing just for the joy of doing it.


Just a thought, Sketchup has some basic human figures. With interior spaces like this I often find that it helps to put some of them in the scene just to give a sense of scale.

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(Don't get too excited, WTN, she only exists in two-dimensional space.)


Back to the topic at hand, let's do a quick study on workflow:  The wainscot that runs around the room.  I started with a piece of scrap paper and a yardstick.  Draw a crude picture that describes all the significant "events" in the profile.  How high?  How far in or out from a fixed point?  In this case, the very top surface was 1 7/8" from the wall, exactly the same as the outer edge of a door casing.  So, the edge of a door is an easy place to measure for depth.




Into the computer and work up a 2D profile.  For these purposes, it doesn't have to be perfect.  Put in major lines and then approximate curves with the arc and circle tools.




Next task is to describe the path that this profile will follow.  A straight line is normally plenty, but this wainscot has some little bump-outs as it runs along the wall.  Once the profile is followed around a path on the wall, the effect is striking.  Even without the raised panels (stolen from the pews that I modeled earlier) it would still have been more than sufficient for my purposes.



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OK, couldn't help myself.  Had a bit of extra time at the end of the day I and knocked out the chancel wainscot, plus the two chancel chairs.  (Nothing more than pews with short seats, so that was easy.)  Lecterns, doors and window bays are all that's left.  Then I can start designing the table itself.


I'm finding that it's been a good exercise modeling the whole space.  I already have an idea what the table will look like, so that part will go quicker.

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And now the play begins in earnest.


Speaking to one of the pastors, he said he didn't want a table that was too deep.  I had him stand at the existing (rear-facing) table and reach over a yard stick:  22" is the working depth he seemed happy with.  The height for now matches the height of the wainscot and railings in the chancel.  The overall length of the table is the size of the opening minus 36" on either side.  The profile around the top duplicates the profile of the wainscot.  My working idea for the base draws on the windows and door openings elsewhere: a round arch with a pronounced keystone at the top...we are in Pennsylvania, after all.  The legs are plain for now and would, of course, be broken up with panels, flutes and carvings to match everything else in the room.


Now the real fun begins.  Time to play with proportions and see if this bird has wings.




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Haven't thought that far ahead and I've never used a third party renderer. Any recommendations?

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


I've used POVRay to good success in the past (and it's free). There's a plugin for Sketchup (called SU2POV) which allows you to export your Sketchup model straight into a POVRay file. Once you get into the realm of 3D rendering you can dedicate your life to obtaining perfect results. I'm not that rabid but here are some examples of our living room / kitchen which I've designed in Sketchup and rendered in POVRay.










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