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scale and scale selection

Scale | Standard Scales | Architectural Scales | Scale Selection

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Scale

Scale is the most important term in model making. It is the main model’s characteristic, describing a size of the model in relation to life-size of the origin.
In US architecture scale usually based to inch/foot measurements and looks like, for example, 1” – 20’ or 1/8” – 1’, where, in this particular sample 1” on the model represents 20’ of life scale size, or 1/8” on the model is the equivalent of 1’ in life-size.
Communicating with architects we are using this system as well. However, we prefer to use scale system that is not based on any particular measurement. This scale called international, or engineering, or, sometimes, metric, although, like it was said before, this system is universal for any system as long as measurement points are the same. This scale represents how many measurement points of the origin are represented by one measurement point on the model and its record looks:
   
  1 : X, or 1 / X and reads "one to X"
   
The scale describes by the following formula:
 
where Lo is Length of the origin and Lm is Length of the model.

It is important for model maker to operate with scale related calculations freely, as such calculations sometimes tricky and may lead to mistake.
Let’s analyze a situation where we’ve been provided with a set of drawings in 1:Y scale and have to build model in 1:X scale. In order to recalculate drawing into model size easily we have to use the formula above. Let’s put into the formula all that known to us.
Lo in this case will look as
 
where Ld is Length on the drawing and the whole formula will look:
 
where the only unknown is Lm, which is the measurement that we will have to calculate multiple times during the model’s fabrication.
Than
 
Let’s separate Y / X from this formula as it is a part of calculation that will be constant for finding each measurement, and call it recalculation coefficient k.
 
And our formula transforms to:
   
  Lm = Ld k
   
All we have to do now is to take any measurement from the drawing, multiply it to k and to find its equivalent in model’s scale in a simple and elegant way.

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Standard Scales

During the development of model and hobby industry, varieties of scales were accepted in different fields and these scales are being acknowledged and recognized today as standard scales. It is important for a model maker to have knowledge of the standard scales and their association to the industry's directions. Each group of scales has its own tradition and a number of requirements which are important for product development.

When it comes to architectural models, knowledge in standard scales and these products available on the market helps us to recommend to our customer in which scale to build a model, so we will be able to provide the highest quality scenery elements, domestic and European made.

Below is a table of some of the most popular standard scale for a number of industry's fields and directions.

 
Industry
Associated Standard Scales

Railroad models

(including lettering codes)

1:220 (Z), 1:120(TT), 1:160 (N), 1:87 (HO), 1:76 (OO), 1:43 (O), 1:24 (G)

Car Models

1:64, 1:50 , 1:43 , 1:24 , 1:18

Aircraft Models

1:500, 1:144, 1:100, 1:72, 1:48, 1:32

Military Miniatures, AFV

1:287, 1:72, 1:76, 1:48 , 1:35 , 1:18

Maritime Models

1:1200, 1:1000, 1:700, 1:300, 1:200, 1:100

Dollhouses

1:50, 1:32 , 1:24

Figurines

1:50, 1:35, 1:32, 1:24, 1:22.5, 1:18, 1:14, 1:9, 1:6

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Architectural Scales

Common architectural scales are usually different from standard scales developed by modeling industry, although some of them come very close. Such similarities allow us to provide high quality scenery elements for architectural models.
Below is a table showing some of the most usable architectural model scales along with transcription to standard US inch/foot scales and recommended scales for accessories/scenery elements.

 
International Scale
1 on the model based equivalent
1' of the origin based equivalent
Other equivalent
Recommended standard scales for scenery elements
Architectural Models
1:10
1 = 10
  1:9
1:16   3/4" = 1'  

  1:16

1:20
1 = 20
  1:22.5
1:25
1 = 25
  1:24
1:24 *
1=2'
1/2=1'
  1:24 , 1:22.5
1:32
1=2.66'
3/8=1'
  1:32 , 1:35
1:48
1=4'
1/4=1'
  1:48 , 1:50
1:50 *
1=4.16'
  1:50 , 1:48
1:75
1=6.25'
3/16=1'
  1:72, 1:76
1:100*
1=8.33'
1/8=1'
  1:100, 1:87(HO)
1:125
1=10'
3/32=1'
  1:122(TT), 1:100
1:150
1=12.5'
  1:160(N)
1:160*
1=13.33'
3/4=10'
  1:160(N)
1:200*
1=16.66'
1/16=1'
  1:220(Z)
1:240*
1=20'
  1:220(Z)
1:250
1=20.83'
  1:220(Z)???
Urban Models
1:300
1=25'
  1:287
1:360
1=30'
  N/A
1:384
1/32=1'
  N/A
1:480*
1=40'
  1:500
1:500*
1=41.66'
  1:500
1:600
1=50'
  1:500???
1:1000
1=83.3'
  N/A
1:1200*
1=100'
  N/A
1:2000*
1=166.6'
  N/A
1:2400*
1=200'
  N/A
 

* the most recognizable scales

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Scale Selection

Selecting the appropriate scale for collectible replicas, miniatures or desktop models is a relatively simple task, being guided by type of the product and target audience.

It is much more difficult to select the right scale for an architectural or museum model. We have to consider the model's purpose and content, target audience, space available for presentation, model's mobility, as well as customer's budget and deadline. We often recommend to the customer to reduce an initially planned scale in order to save money and fabrication time when we are confident that we will represent all the important features on a downsized model. Or, we might recommend the same if the model is meant to be moved frequently from place to place. Such a situation is the most sensitive in terms of scale selection. The size and weight of the model that have to travel frequently are vital, and their miscalculation will affect the model's very purpose and turn every move into an aggravating, not to mention costly task. We always ask our customers to believe that accuracy, meticulous attention to details, professional finishes, a carefully balanced color scheme and high quality scenery elements are the factors that turn the model into a spectacular presentation and design support tool much rather than its size.

Below is a chart that may help to select an appropriate scale range for your future model, based on model content and purpose. We would not, of course, be able to cover all possible combinations in this one chart, so we described only the most common types of models.
 
Model's Content
General Purpose
Recommended scales
  Single, up to 1-2 story, small to medium size   building, no landscape development
Museum, exhibit
  1:24, 1:32 , 1:50
  Single, up to 1-2 story, small to medium size   building, limited landscape development
Museum, exhibit, architectural presentation
  1:32, 1:50 , 1:48
  Single, up to 5-7 story, medium size building,   limited   landscape development
Museum, exhibit, architectural presentation
  1:75, 1:100
  Single, multi story building, tower/skyscraper   type,   limited landscape development
Museum, exhibit, architectural presentation
  1:100, 1:120, 1: 150,   1:160, 1:200
  Single, school/hospital type building, expanded   landscape development
Architectural presentation
  1:150, 1:160, 1:200, 1:220,   1:240
  Multi building complex consists of small to   medium   size buildings, expanded landscape   development   (residential block type)
Architectural presentation
  1:220, 1:240
  Multi building complex consists of medium to   large   size buildings, expanded landscape   development   (commercial, industrial type)
Museum, exhibit, visitor center, architectural presentation
  1:300
  Medium size resort complex, expanded   landscape   development
Visitor center, architectural presentation
  1:240, 1:300
  Large size resort complex, greatly expanded   landscape development
Visitor center, architectural presentation
  1:480, 1:500
  Urban model, several building blocks, doors,   windows and other details still be required,   expanded landscape development
Urban development support
  1:480, 1:500
  Urban model greater than preview one,   buildings   fabricated as blocks, no doors,   windows required,   mono or duotone painting   scheme
Urban development support
  1:1000, 1:1200, 1:2000,   1:2400 depending on area   size

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