Good scale guide

scale1I’ve been enjoying a few conversations recently about scale scratch building namely concerned with how to get it right, and what to use as source references. Firstly I wouldn’t ever claim to be the master of getting anything right, even if it limits my chances of becoming a cult leader, but I do know how I do things and I’m happy enough to share. Above is a WWII photo from Northern France and it’s a great example of how easy it is to get the scale of a building, as well as the style. There’s a jeep parked right next to the house on the right and it’s a great guide to the size of the building, height of the windows etc. You can make this as easy or as complex as you want, you could just sketch out the building by eye, measure a miniature of a jeep and use that as your guide, or even print out the photo and having secured the actual height of a jeep with the canopy up, divide that down until you’ve got a foot measure relative to the building, draw it all out and divide all measurements by 285 or 300 depending on your preference. Personally I’d go by eye.

scale2Here’s a photo of some very modern looking buildings in Western Russia, and it looks as if the entire street is similar so it’s an easy one to work out how to build. For scaling I’d ignore both tank and truck in favour of the figure between the two, and which is closer to the building than either vehicle. The windows all look the same height, with only the ones on the corner being narrower. This is very common with more modern buildings. However don’t let this lull you into a common mistake, that of defining the size of a feature such as a door or a window and applying it across a range of model buildings. It’s the variety of sizes which adds realism.

scale3This photo shows the above point reasonably well. Sure the street is on a slight slope, but don’t let that distract you. To the left there’s two three-floored buildings and to the right two four-floored buildings, neither pair the same height plus the one far left is about the same height as the one far right, despite there being a storey difference. So if in real life builders ignore any solid definition of scale why not the modeller? Also consider how you could replicate this street reasonably well just by using the window and door layout, without having to put sills and fancy lintels on the whole thing.


It’s also worth remembering regional differences in style, such as the steeper pitch to the roofing in this German town as well as the mix of arched windows with square set ones on the same structure.  Again the buildings in this could be fairly copied in window and door layout and capture the feel of the real thing. All these pictures were grabbed off the web, which is easy of course. For more specific requirements you should keep an eye out for a good book on the area you’re interested in, especially if it uses the word “Pictorial” somewhere in the title. The third option is to visit one of the history forums I link to and ask the users there if they’ve got any photos they might share, not only will you be flooded with historical images but you’ll also be offered sets taken on more recent battlefield visits. This is incredibly useful as not only does it supply shots no-one thought to bother with back in the day, but also not every eager modeller is able to visit the sites they might wish to.

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