How to accurately scale your models

I figure with all the talk about scaling it might be a good idea to also give you instructions on how I scale my models for use with various game systems such as making them at 1:100 scale for Team Yankee and Flames of War.

For starters you need to look at your model and see if there’s anything that might be “optional” on the vehicle such as antennas or anything else that does not absolutely have to be there. In the case of the SU-25 Frogfoot models I have been working on, the pitot tubes at the front of the plane are not always seen on all variants of the model, therefore we need to find another axis to use as our reference point.

The tubes at the front of the aircraft can make using the length of the aircraft difficult or wrong altogether

So looking at the various dimensions I can see that the width or wingspan of the plane is a constant across all of the variants I’ve noticed thus far. This means I can use the width as the base measurement for scaling my model to the appropriate game size.

The next thing we’re going to do is head to the internet and find out just how wide the Frogfoot actually is in real life, on a full size aircraft. So open up your favourite browser and in the search bar type in “SU-25 Frogfoot wingspan”. Typically the answer you’re looking for will be right there at the top of the search results as you can see in the image below.

Search results showing the wingspan of the SU-25 Frogfoot

According to the search results we can see the Frogfoot measures 47 feet from wingtip to wingtip. Now we need to go to the handy dandy scale converter to see just what it will be at 1:100 scale.

If you go to: you’ll see a pretty self explanatory form there. This is where we will plug in our information as shown below:

Information added to determine the wingspan of the FrogFoot at 1:100 scale in millimeters

I prefer to get my results in millimeters as I find it’s just a lot easier to work with being brought up on the metric system. According to the results there, it says that 47 feet at 1:100 scale is 143.256mm.

For the sake of simplicity I’m going to use the Windows 3D builder to adjust the scale of my model. So load it up, add in the Frogfoot, and let’s scale this down to what we need. As I’ve mentioned before, I absolutely love the 3D Builder because it’s a quick and easy tool that allows you to do a lot of things without the headache of a lot of unnecessary buttons and functions.

With our Frogfoot loaded up we’re going to select it by clicking on it, you should see an outline around it along with some arrows. Now at the bottom of the window you will see a button to toggle the scale, click on it as shown below:

Selecting and Toggling the Scale button in Windows 3D Builder

The next thing we do is very important, on the right of that panel at the bottom is a padlock, by default it is not toggled, you need to click on this. If you don’t and you proceed from here you will end up with your Frogfoot looking like this:

A demonstration of what happens when the aspect ratio lock isn’t toggled
The Lock Aspect Ratio button, toggle it to lock the padlock

So now we’re ready to scale down our Frogfoot, and to do that you will want to click on the arrows that point side to side, or wingtip to wingtip. You may also find it easier to load or keep the view of the model turned that the nose is facing you, this makes it easier sometimes to locate the proper arrows we need to scale our model with.

View of the Frogfoot head on to make locating the arrows for the width easier.

Now if you look at the image above you will notice that in the panel at the bottom of the screen, one section is highlighted now that we have clicked on those arrows. This section is where we need to click on next in order to enter our scaled down dimensions.

Click on the highlighted section, then type in the 143.256, make sure the padlock is in the locked position and press “ACCEPT”, if all goes well then you see this:

IF everything goes right…

Wait, if everything goes right ??? What just happened here and where is my Frogfoot ??? It’s there, just a lot smaller than before so you will need to zoom in to see it.

Zoomed in on the rescaled Frogfoot

Now you will also notice that the rest of the measurements have changed as well to reflect the proper scaling maintained by locking the aspect ratio. And that’s it… really not that difficult and almost 100% flawless if you follow the destructions. You can see below the size difference between the unscaled original and the rescaled model we created.

Do you see it ??? That little itty bitty Frogfoot is the result of being rescaled down to 1:100 scale.

And just like that, you’re have successfully scaled your Frogfoot or other model down to 1:100 scale which is what is intended for this particular model and the scale used in Team Yankee. Regardless of the model you’re using, the same steps apply in order to resize tanks, trucks, missiles, bombs, tents, etc..

If you are scaling down a helicopter then you need to be extra careful when using the search engine, you are looking for the measurement of the fuselage only. If you use the measurement that includes the rotors you are likely to get the scale off. Alternatively if you haven’t separated the rotors you CAN use the measurement that includes the rotors.

And finally, there are some vehicles like tanks that have a barrel that extends far past the hull of the vehicle. This is another instance where you need to pay attention to the results you get in the search engine, you’re looking for either “gun forward” or “hull length” are the typical responses I’ve seen.

With a little bit of practice you will find this to be a very quick way to scale down models and get right back into your work flow. One of the best things about STL files or just about any 3D model is that there is no loss in detail when you scale a model down. It’s when you go to scale up models, especially from 1:285 scale ( also known as 6mm scale ) that you will notice a huge lack of detail simply because trying to add that much detail to a model that small, then print it and paint it is damn near impossible to do properly unless you take LOTS of time. So if you have a model you’ve found in 1:48 scale or something, this is the process you can follow to make it usable in the game.

I hope you have found this little tutorial to be useful and it makes your job a lot easier. Feel free to browse around the site and see what else I have floating around on this site.

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