Thursday 7 April 2022

Figure Size and Model Scale

 This is a somewhat fraught subject, and there are people out there who take their own opinions very, very seriously. I suspect that they're very angry people at heart, and need to chill a bit, but anyway.

The main thing to remember is that the numbers used to describe miniature figure size and model scale are quite different, and bear only a passing relationship to each other. A purportedly 15mm figure might be anywhere from 12mm to 18mm or worse, but a 1/72 scale model will (or should) always be in a proportion of one real-world centimetre to 72 scale centimetres.

This image is from Andrew Loomis' famous work on figure drawing, Figure Drawing For All Its Worth.

It's a very influential work for illustrators, but its main purpose here is to give us some proportions to work with.

Loomis describes the normal male as being 7½ heads tall, which is a handy starting point as it's independent of any actual measurements. However, thanks to the magic of the internet, we can tie it to some real-world figures — it turns out that the global mean male height is 171cm (5'7⅓"). Therefore, the mean height of one head is 22.8cm, for what that's worth.

Miniature figure size is generally agreed to be measured from the soles of the feet to the eyes*, thus allowing us to ignore any tall fancy hats or the like. The eyes are half way up the head, which handily allows us to ignore the ½-head and declare that our mean male miniature figure's eye height will, in scale, be 159.6cm, which, for ease of calculation, we can safely round out to 160cm (5'3").

* Though remember those angry people who take themselves far too seriously. They may have other ideas.


So anyway, now that we know all that we can work out which model scales and figure sizes should go together visually:

Scale Figure
1:300 5.3 6mm
1:285 5.6 6mm
1:200 8 8mm
1:144 11.1 12mm
1:100 16 15mm
1:76 21 20mm
1:72 22 20mm
1:64 25 25mm
1:56 28.6 28mm
1:48 33.3 32mm
1:35 45.7 45mm
1:32 50 54mm
1:24 66.7 70mm
1:12 133.3 130mm

These are not, of course, hard and fast rules. There are many people, for example, who use 1:48 scale vehicles with their 28mm miniatures, just because they think they look better. And 25mm figures are often used with 1:72 scale vehicles, mainly (I think) out of tradition. More power to them; they're their models, and they can do with them as they please and it will harm me not one whit.

A Note on Figure Sculpting

The proportions given by Loomis may not be entirely suitable for figures sculpted for gaming use, especially in the smaller scales. Often, elements like heads and hands will need to be sculpted slightly larger than would be strictly accurate, and limbs may need to be thicker just to stand up to the rigours of handling.

There is some natural variation in the size of real human beings, and there's nothing wrong with reflecting this within a unit of little army-men. Different sculptors may create their figures at slightly different sizes than other sculptors, and mixing figure ranges can create some pleasing height variation.

BUT items of equipment like rifles, webbing, ammo boxes and so forth do NOT vary in this way, and if two figure ranges have visually differently sized rifles, for example, then when mixed together they will just look wrong and wonky.

Saturday 2 April 2022

Hawker Hart (1:144)


Some time ago I designed a 1:144 scale digital model of the Hawker Hart in Blender, and from time to time I have another go at 3d printing it.

The silver one on the left is printed in FDM on my Ender 3; the STL for that one is split longitudinally and the model is printed in two halves. The resulting print is okay, but as usual with FDM the surface texture is quite striated, I end up with a lot of little nubbins where supports rest, and the struts and undercarriage are really quite rough. It will do as a wargames model, but I crave something smoother.

However, I've had very little success when it comes to printing aircraft in resin, like the one on the right. This one was also cut in half, but fore and aft this time.

Part of the issue is that resin isn't all that dimensionally stable, and warping in the curing process is fairly common. But the recurring problem, again and again, is deformation of one or more wing-tips. Even when I've supported both sides completely symmetrically, I'll often get one side failing to print properly. In the case of this print, the profile of the whole port side is screwy, and I honestly have no idea why.

I'm trying another print right now with the front half of the plane in a different orientation, but to be honest I'm getting a bit pessimistic.

Next Day...

Success at last!

I had a couple of breakages when the supports came off (one of the wing struts, and the undercarriage) but they glued back together okay with some raw resin, cured with a UV flashlight.

There is a little bit of sanding to be done where support nubbins exist, but it's the best result so far.

I'll print one more, and paint one in the silver peace-time livery and the other in the dark earth/dark green it would have been repainted in if it had to go to war.