Thursday, July 22, 2010

the different scales i work in.....

Part 1 - the different scales, and how i get to the measurements

these are in 1:3. i have had some people ask me what scales i work in (with?), and others were kinda confused too, and i do apologize for not being clear. i started out with what i -thought- was 1:12, after i found the world of dollhouse miniatures. i have found that each scale has its own challenge, and also some technical issues to be aware of. ready? here comes the math lesson.....XD

the smallest squares on this cutting mat are 0.5cm wide. starting from left most, are my latest kiwi cane slices in 1:24, 1:12, 1:6 , 1:4 and 1:3. the thinnest cane is in 1:48. you can probably tell by estimating that the measurements are 2mm, 4mm, 8mm, 11mm, and 15mm. so mathematically speaking, in real life, the dimensions would be:

1:24 - 24 x 2 = 48mm = 4.8cm
1:12 - 12 x 4 = 48mm = 4.8cm
1:6 - 6 x 8mm = 48mm = 4.8cm
1:4 - 4 x 11mm = 44mm = 4.4cm
1:3 - 3 x 15mm = 45mm = 4.5cm

how did i come up with the measurements and how come they are different for the larger scaled items? for me, i tend to work backwards. i usually pick up my ruler, and guesstimate how wide the fruit should be. so, excluding the rind/skin/fur (??) of the kiwi, we can say, it ranges between 4.5-4.8cm wide. now, i could be really finicky and go further into the 2nd decimal place, but feh, my math isn't that great and my ruler doesn't go beyond 0.5 mm divisions :P

since 4.5 is easily divided by 3, i went with that for the 1:3 scale, and reduced my cane accordingly. i usually start out with a 1:2 cane, and reduce from there. so you can probably guess why i went with 11mm for the 1:4 scale right? XD XD XD

but wait! 4.8 is also easily divisible by 3, AND 4, why didn't i use that then? well. for larger scales, i have found that it is better to work in -slightly- smaller dimensions for a few reasons:

1) fruit sizes vary, you can get away with smaller fruits, but larger ones can appear 'clunky' (at least to me it can) so i prefer to work in a small-medium size range
2) uses less clay
3) cane needs to be reduced quite a bit to make sure the separate clay pieces adhere properly with each other, in case i had accidentally introduced air pockets while assembling the cane
4) i don't like the number 6, and 16 has 6 in it :X so i tend to avoid any measurements with the digit 6 in it. strange, but true fact about me! (my fave number is 7, and i love other prime numbers too)

uh. yea that's all i can think of for now with regards to the above.

(i think i'm the only one who bothers thinking about stuff like that and even blogging about it. meh this post is so dry, i know...)

next section touches on the various scales i work with, rehashing some stuff you might already know by now................

Part 2 - what the heck are all this 'scale' stuff you are talking about and why does it matter anyway?!? small = CUTE! SQUEE!!!!

VERY TRUE! SQUEEE!!! however, if you are selling miniatures, it is important to -know- what scales you are working with. what looks good on your favourite mini plate might not fit as nicely onto your customer's fave mini plate. heck, some people don't care, and for those of you who don't....ahhaha i don't think they even made to reading this far XD

so. why these scales then? why not 1:10, 1:8, 1:14?? why are these so special, you ask??? here's what i've learnt so far, i could be wrong, but you always have google and more knowledgeable people to verify....:P

1:12 aka scale dollhouse miniatures aka one inch scale
to put it simply, in doll size, 1 inch = 1 foot real life size. and since 12 inches make a foot...TADAH! i guess the serious dollhouse collectors started out with imperial measurements, not metric like we're (i'm) used to here :(

this term also applies to 1:24 aka halfscale or half inch scale, 1:48 aka quarterscale or quarter inch scale, and even 1:100 and 1:144 i think, aka micro scales.

the commonly accepted scale for dollhouse miniature collectors. if you do a search for dollhouse miniatures, it is likely you will see the vast majority will state that their items are 1:12 scale. this is my favourite scale to work with :)

1:18 1:16 (thanks, Pubdoll!)
 i stumbled across some flickr photos of some awesome awesome miniature furniture, but realised they weren't the more common 1:12 scale! how very strange! what is this "Lundby"?!??! ah ha!!! a quick visit to googlei edumakated meh ril quik!

UPDATE: WIKI IS is 1:16, not 1:18! -_-" for more info, and examples, please go to Pubdoll's blog, i had to stop looking, i was getting into a state of serious "I WANT-itis".......which would be detrimental to my state of "i-have-no-space-to-store-'em-itis" T_T ok i lie. i'll probably be another silent stalker :E all this coveting is gonna be the death of me......

i think they're great, and much of their furniture -should- work with 1:12 roomboxes. i prefer my items slightly smaller than -strict- 1:12 anyway, so i'm looking forward to owning a Lundby house. someday, someday T_T i have no space to put my growing pile of materials and tools!!!

oh sorry. where was i? dangit i got sucked into that site.......

i have never made 1:16 scaled items. i might try some day. just for fun and to see the difference.

1:6 aka playscale
this scale is what i grew up with, playing with Barbies!!! her body dimensions are definitely off *grins*, but most of her accessories etc are at 1:6. Re-ment, a popular japanese brand of miniatures, is also at 1:6. but some items are small enough to use at 1:12. i found a wonderful site that tracks such items, i'm afraid of going through the site, it'll just fuel my insane desire for more re-ment items. not food though. i started making my own minis cos i hated the plastickiness of re-ment foods :P

not a popular request, due to the ease of availability of props. hence not a scale i work with often. nor a scale i'm entirely comfortable with, but probably cos it looks clunky after being so accustomed to 1:12.

1:4 and 1:3, aka MSD and SD sized

the MSD and SD refer to "Mini Super Dollfie" and "Super Dollfie" respectively. not all ball-jointed dolls (BJD) are MSD/SD, but MSD/SDs are BJDs. confused? read more about it here

and here

i had to figure out the differences as i started selling more of my works to doll collectors, so i guess, if you are thinking of selling in larger scales and don't know the difference, it is time to start knowing? :X

alot of the 1:4 items could work with 1:3 dolls, just like 1:6 work for 1:4, but not that many people nor commercially available props are in that scale. i started making larger scaled items for TDA '09, my first (and only, so far) miniature-related event! it is the only relatively-high-profile miniature related event (that i know of) here in Singapore, and since i have been wanting to own a BJD for like, forever, i took the plunge and participated.

i really. really. really want an Unoa Quluts. Sist or Lusis, i haven't quite decided. not that it matters, they're so costly, my teeth hurt.

(wonder if i put up a paypal donate button i'd get anyone to help me on my BJD quest? XD )

there you have it. why i work in these scales.

AHHH TOO MANY WORDS! even -i- wouldn't have made it this far without pictures :P i'm working on some 1:3 items, this is as much as i could get done with my very, very, -very- sore hands/wrists. i stupidly rolled out some clay colours instead of using the pasta machine, and now both palms are bruised :( washing dishes today...was indeed a challenge XD i didn't break anything though, go me!

ok enough of talking to myself. tomorrow, i'll be having a mini meet-up, SO EXCITING!!! a good excuse to let my hands heal up! i will be roping in Sans and Asuka to help me do some chopping too, my hands can't take it anymore LOL

p.s. my next 'technical' post should be about differences in working with 1:3 vs 1:12. donno when that'll be. would anyone be interested in reading that, or should i not bother?


  1. very informative and educational, thanx for the post ! i am interested, pls continue !!

    i usually just guess the scales, can't be bothered to calculate accurately. i guess i should start calculating actually, cos occasionally i would make something really off the proportion =P

  2. My head hurts just thinking about how to convert metric in 1:12. I swear it is not the same as simple division because you can't divide metric by 12. I think you must convert measurements to inches , divide by 12 then convert back to metric? Ok major headache coming. Also the base 8 or 12 or 16 is so confusing as compared to base 10. I just found out to my horror that my ruler uses base 10 for an inch!!! You know what I mean? Instead of showing me 1/16" divisions or 1/8" it shows 1/10"!!!! OUCH, head hurts more now. Tomorrow, you tell me Cindy? :)

    I now just scale everything to my dollhouse. But I am sure you do need to worry about scale and be very specific when you sell online.

  3. Good tips about scale. It gets confusing. I've been asked to make furniture in 1:6th scale and I am not sure where to begin!


  4. thank you for the information Cindy, this are very useful :)
    and btw your kiwi canes looks so good... i'm really suck at canning...:(

  5. ah.

    first off, a hug is in order *hugs*

    nw that we have that aside.

    thanks so much for making this! =) i've been scouring all over to look for scale references and such. I'm just bad with scaling and converting them. ><

    it's really educational. and helped me alot! thanks so much!

  6. Oy, Cindy, the math definitely makes my head hurt! :(

    But, you have laid it out so wonderfully for people to know. :)

    I like making things in 1/12th scale but, I think they really want it smaller than life size scaled down... the smaller the better, it confuses me!

    Very informative post, I'll be back to keep checking on the scales, I'm learning so much. :)

    Have fun with the girls :) Wish I could be there in person. :)

  7. Oh this math! I have tried only 1/12 so far and just divide the real size into 12. And I get terribly confused by the inches.. however, it was very interesting and informative ;]

  8. Hi Cindy! At last someone who's just as obsessed with scales as I am :-) Nice job! Since I'm doing the Lundby scale and am used to the metric system but buy things from sellers that work in 1" scale I just had to learn how to do the math :-) You could mention that one inch is 2.54 cm. When I see something in 1" scale I multiply it with 2.54 to get it in centimeter and then with 16 to see what it would be in fullsize. The 1:16 scale equals 3/4" scale and 1:18 scale equals 2/3" scale.

    Lundby is by the way closer to 1:16, perhaps even on the large side, almost 1:15! Both their men and women are at the present 11.2cm tall, that equals over 201cm in 1:18 and 179cm in 1:16! And the 1:16 scale suits the height of their kitchen benches and furniture better too. I always use 1:16 when I calculate the scale for my Lundby house furnishings and accessories. And because of your post, I finally got around to write a mail to Lundby and correct them :-)

    And I love your food, I think you are one of the absolute best food miniaturists I have seen!

  9. I am currently reading yotsuba, and I always think of you! haha love the pineapples~

  10. Hi Ele B!

    you're welcome! i still have plenty of early works that are a little off-scale, but i think once you get used to it, all this calculations become second nature XD keep on practicing! i often still make mistakes, especially when people request in inches :O :O :O

  11. Susan, no la no la, no pain! so far your work is perfectly scaled, i used to think they were much bigger cos in your pics you seldom have anything to contrast for size...other than maybe books, but you also know how i've mistaken those for real life settings *d'oh!* but now i know you're better at it than i am, WITHOUT calculations too!!!

    orz orz orz orz XD

  12. hey Jody! yes! in the beginning, i wasted so much time hunting down scale converters etc....i think it's harder to work in larger scales once you've become accustomed to 1:12.

    i guess you -could- simply double up the dimensions of your usual 1:12 to get to 1:6...the safest is to take actual measurements and divide accordingly, but i always double check with my customers by asking them to take my estimated measurements against their own doll to see if it would work. i don't think there is any hard and fast rule on scaling items. :)

  13. hey Miniature Wonderland (Christina, right?)

    thanks for dropping by :) i have plenty of crappy kiwi, orange, lemon and ESPECIALLY strawberry canes. the key is lots and lots of practice! T_T i am still learning :(

  14. haha Maddie, thank you~~ *huggles*

    no problem! there are actually many many resources out there, this is just for those readers who have been confused and have been asking about my larger items etc....i myself tend to get confused too!

  15. *massages Dale's temples*

    i know, right?!?! and you know about my perpetual state of confusion too!! XD

    i still have to correct the post, now i'm learning that Lundby is more of 1:16 than 1:18 (thanks, Pubdoll!!), which is what wiki has mistakenly informed me...*shakes fist angrily at the misedumakashun* i'm so glad i blogged about it, no better way to learn than via my (many) mistakes! HA!

    oooo yesterday was fun! pity Asuka was still healing up from her wisdom tooth surgery, i got so anxious and nervous i started finishing her sentences again, oy.....:(

  16. hi Veselina!

    LOL! indeed, OY THE MATH! i envy those who needn't do all this calculation, but i have an obsessive need to...i guess i just like toying with numbers (sometimes...) :P

  17. Helene!!! i've heard so much about you ^ ^ NICE things, of course! thank you for dropping by, and for informing me of the TRUE size of Lundby :O i am sooo glad you verified it! i remember reading on various flickr pages that it was 1:16, but stupidly trusted wiki over the collectors themselves. there's another lesson for me to learn....*winces*

    all the fractions give me a bigger headache than the decimals. but i get what you mean....gee, at 1:18, they sure do have some really tall Swedes (Lundby is made by a Swedish company, yes?) huh! there is a similar issue over in the BJD community, there's a doll that's slightly larger than 1:3, but not quite me, that's just asking for MIGRAINES :P but like you, i really enjoy the Lundby sized items, design wise, they are more to my taste (a little modern retro) than most dollhouses we see. i'm so envious of you!!!

    one day, one day, THEY SHALL BE MINE!!! bwa ha ha *deep throated laughter* i see that your dolls have been touring quite a bit...*turns into a shade of green*

  18. *giggles at mr pineapple man*

    you would, wouldn't you? XD thank you! your posts make me grin, and bring me as much joy (if not more) as Yotsuba XD :P

  19. Thanks for the temple massage, dear. :)

    Well, I'm glad you updated the blog, I might have to book mark this page for easy reference. :)

    Oh, I wish I could have been there! I need transcripts, lol ;)
    I hope Asuka heals quickly!

  20. Just stopping by, I check out your blog on occasion and you DA page. I'm C-Williams on DA so if you've seen that I've been by... that's me *waves*

    I'm making a 1/48th doll house, my first, which is a partial kit. It's actually a shop and I plan of making my own blue prints for shops and houses to make an entire street scene when I'm done with it. If I don't cut my fingers off with the saw. I'm doing all the furnishings and items for the inside. Currently it's a butcher shop and I've started on making stuff to go in it. But I have a question for when I get to where I need canes of fruit, (meat is okay to vary) do you have any tips for keeping the center of the cane from deforming when you reduce it? I've failed at this with orange canes in the past.


Thank you for taking the time out to comment! :D