How to Make an Architectural Model by Hands?




Nowadays, many of 3D modeling software such as Rebit and Google Sketch Up make our design process not only faster and easier, but also accomplish some complicated works. Using a lazer cutter may create perfect edges and curves, and it makes model look neat and exact. However, if you are beginner, instructors might tell you not to use 3D software and lazer cutter but by handwork. This is an entrance ticket for anyone who step into the design world, because everyone needs to practice model making by using both brain and hand at the same time.

This instruct-able guide provides basic knowledge of handwork architectural model making throughout the each step. From tools to material choice, and all the tips I've learnt from many designers and instructors are included. After you read this, you will understand how is the each process going, and it is also a very helpful manual for you to review basic matters.

In this project, there are some tools that may cause danger if people are not using them correctly; therefore, children and teenagers are not allow to do this along. At the same time, adults will also need to be aware of the dangers are included.


Model making will test you three things:





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Step 1: Get Your Idea

Before you start making model, there is something to do. Get your idea; this is your start line. You need to know what you want to make and where do you find your sources to develop an idea. From internet? TV? Or outside of the world? Maybe create a subject first, and then give yourself a few options to choose. Narrow down your selections is always helpful method to find idea.

Step 2: To Be Prepared

Now you need to prepare all your tools and materials. Without the right tools, it just makes your work harder. These are the recommended basic tools and model materials. You may buy them from either online or art store.



  • Architectural Scale (Define your model scale and calculate dimensions.)
  • 6’’, 12’’, and 18’’ rulers (Depending on the size of model.)
  • Triangular Rule (Plan and section drawing, glue vertically, etc.)


  • Sharp Pencil (Using for make marks and any draft drawing. Size 2B is recommended.)
  • Double-side Marker: Fine and Ultra-fine (Useful when you draw plan and section.)
  • Micron 01, 03, and 08 (Different line weight for drawing.)
  • Thick Marker (Hard line weight in drawing such as wall and columns.)

Cutting Tool

  • X-acto Knife (Useful when cut detailed and small pieces of model parts.)
  • Utility Knife (Useful when cut relatively large and thick pieces of model parts.)
  • Ciser (Rough cut only.)

Cutting Mat

  • OLFA or ALVIN Cutting Mat (Anti-skidding and be able to protect table from cutting knives.)


  • Rubber Cement (Good glue for stick paper and paper)
  • Quick Dry Tacky Glue (Good at most of paper and some wood materials.)
  • Glue Gun (Extremely quick dry glue with high temperature injector.)
  • Stickers or Tape (Using for fasten the drawing paper on table.)

Board materials

  • Thin Black and White Foam Board (Beginner's main building materials)
  • Thick Black and White Foam Board (Mainly use for basement or landscape of your model.)
  • Chip Board (Brown hard paper)
  • Thin Plywood (Need to be able to cut.)
  • Clear Sheet Print (Pretend as glass.)

Step 3: Be Careful of Your Tool

A lot of tools we use in this project can be very dangerous such as X-acto Knife and Glue gun. While we are using them, please make your and your surrounding's safety as first concern. In order to prevent some unexpected accident happens, we need to know where is your tool exactly located, and make sure unplug glue gun and put the cover on your X-acto knife when they are not being used.

Bandages and some basic disinfectants are needed when temporary accident happens.

Step 4: Select a Scale of Your Model

Choose one scale from your architectural scale and it decides how big your actual model is. After you picked a scale, all the processes have to follow this scale.

Step 5: Floor Plan and Section Cut Drawing

In this step, you will need to draw your model’s floor plan and section cut drawing. The main goal in here is to define the size of each piece from your model. Choose a scale from architectural scale and draw basic plan view on piece of paper or tracing paper. Be sure that use your pencil to draw several draft first and write down dimensions. From height to width, thickness and angle, all of them need to be calculated. This is the time to test your concentration. It is always helpful if you write down the number of pieces you need and divide big space into a few small groups.

Step 6: Add Dimensions to Your Drawing

Before you making the model, you better write down all the dimensions on your drawings. This makes your life easier. Otherwise, you will need to calculate each piece's every time and slow down your overall speed.

Step 7: Cut and Glue Each Pieces

From now on, you can start cutting your materials and making model. Make sure your cutting tool is sharp, so that you may cut nicely and have clean edges. A neat model have always looked beautiful. 

While you glue two pieces together, I suggest you to use triangular or square ruler helping your corner exactly 90 degrees. You may also use corner of the ruler to clean some overflowed glue on your model.

After finish making your pieces, try to put your pieces on floor plan drawing and check if they are matching. Review each of your step is very important to your progressing.

Step 8: Build Your Interiors and Structural Model Separately

Do not stick all your models together unless you sure everything are doing correctly. This is because since you glue all together, you will get really hard fixing on each piece if there are any troubles appear afterwards. 

Step 9: Add Colors and Textures to Finishing Your Model

Sometimes, color papers and other materials such as plastic sheet and plywood will able to beautifully decorate your model instead of just made out of white foam board or chip board. All these supplements may let your model looks more three dimension and realistic.

In the end, again, model making will test your concentration and patience a lot. Making model is not a hard thing, but making a good model is always a challenge to every model makers.  However, interactive practices may bring many helps to you for sure.

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    13 Discussions


    2 months ago

    very nice -Integral Architectural Model Making-


    2 years ago

    Planning on making, thanks!


    2 years ago

    Working under supervision of one of the most experienced Model Making in UAE assure every model with sophisticated, high quality and durability and easy to find now a days.


    2 years ago

    i need that but i poor*:_*:


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi there this post has been really informative, I'm starting my University course in Architecture Technology and i am getting in some practice and research before the course starts, i was wondering what software have you used for the floor designs and the interior? also where is it you purchase your materials from?


    Jonathan Williams

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Just go to art store. I use foam board as my basic primary materials, and some other color papers as well. If the paper has texture in it, that would be ever greater.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I drew by hands, but AutoCAD and Sketchup could be one of the most easiest and basic software to make drawings and 3D models.

    Probably your each pieces of your model didn't exactly matching to your drawing. Did you select a scale and build up your model based on that scale? Use both floor plan and section cut drawing to check if your pieces are correct size.