View Full Version : Scratch Building from a Photo?
02-05-2009, 06:16 AM
For those of you who scratch build their buildings and structures , what procedure do you use to convert the dimensions of a building that all you have is a picture of the building to work from. Do you pen and paper it to scale or do you use a drafting Program.
I appreciate any and all input!
02-05-2009, 06:53 AM
I have a friend that does allot of scratch building from pictures. One trick he uses is a 4 ft painted stick. Painted yellow and black (a color change at each foot). He places it next to the structure when photoed to help with measurements. He also said its good to measure one window, from this he can determine the building size. Say a window is 3 ft across the bottom, it may measure 1/8in in the photo, he can figure the whole building out by measuring the photo.
02-05-2009, 07:36 AM
You can build a decent model from a pencil sketch with major dimensions, plus clear reference photos. Bob's suggestions are excellent if you have access to the structure. However, if you can't take more pictures and measurements, try to find something in the picture with known dimensions and scale everything from that.
Also, if the building is a historic landmark, there may be a historical society web site with helpful info.
02-05-2009, 11:40 AM
As Steve said, find something in the picture that you know the size of, or can find out the size, like a window, door, or even if there is a person in the picture close to the building. The older the building, the less likely that doors and windows will be a current standard size. Perspective can get tricky when it comes to measuring, so try to use measurements on as flat (to the camera) a wall as possible (very little perspective). The idea is to get close. If you aren't exact, chances are nobody's gonna notice.
02-05-2009, 11:59 AM
I was going to say the same thing Gary said. Start with a known dimension, such as the door, or windows... From there scaling should be pretty easy.
02-06-2009, 03:38 AM
I want to Thank everyone for their input, I do have access to the building so it looks like a photo trip upcoming. I like the idea of the Stick method painted in different colors.
There are several buildings on the site, the one in the picture was built in 1860 by the Memphis & Charleston Railroad and is one of the nations oldest Depots still standing.
This the Victory Special 1218 leaving the Huntsville Station back in 1991. thought you might find it interesting!
02-06-2009, 04:23 AM
If you do need to use pictures for your building , I have found it very easy to draw the plans by enlarging or shrinking the photo untill it measures the same as it would in the scale you are doing it in. For instance a door is usually 7 1/2 feet high, so blow up or reduce the photo untill your scale rule shows the right measurement. You can then take the rest of your measurements straight off the picture. This works great for straight on photos. If they are skewed like the one you have shown a little guesswork is involved, but with a little practice you can get a building that looks the right dimensions.
02-06-2009, 05:56 AM
Smitty- check with the City of Huntsville and Madison County tax assessors offices. They may have a plat of the building and property with overall dimensions. You would still have to locate doors and windows on the building, but it is hard to tell a few inches off in HO scale.:rolleyes:
02-06-2009, 06:56 PM
That crossing gate and signal give you a really good reference for height since they are all similar in construction. Since you can get to the building, buy one of these: http://cgi.ebay.com/CRAFTSMAN-ACCUTRAC-LASER-DISTANCE-MEASURING-TOOL-48298_W0QQitemZ380102487125QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_D efaultDomain_0?hash=item380102487125&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1205%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C 240%3A1318%7C301%3A1%7C293%3A1%7C294%3A50. It's a laser measuring tool and you can get very precise inside and outside measurements in a matter of minutes. The only thing you need is someone to hold a stick at the wall edges to give the laser something to bounce off of.
02-07-2009, 04:34 AM
Hey Jim,that's a pretty slick tool, you can never have enough tools at hand, especially a tool junkie like myself. It should be pretty weather today so we're going to take a little excursion down to the depot and see what we can come up with.
Thanks again for all the response!
02-07-2009, 10:22 PM
Smitty, here is a C&S water tank and pump house that I built this week off of a single photo supplied from the client. These pieces are in On3. The last shot is the photo that they were built from. The third shot is of the model from nearly the same angle and only lacks the wood ladder. Note in the prototype photo the tank appears to be having problems as there are several "props" trying to keep it up and these were not modeled at the clients request.
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