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How Do You Figure Out Scales ???

Discussion in 'Painting Techniques' started by TWOMOONS, Sep 4, 2009.

  1. TWOMOONS Active Member

    Arrgh! Maybe someone can help me on this...I am mathmatically challenged, I guess.
    If I sculpt a head, say, 1 1/2 " high, and do a proportionate body to accompany it , then how do I figure out what scale it winds up?
    I'm working in 120mm lately, and I'm told that's 1/16; another has told me 1/15...but how the hell do you arrive at those figures? HELP!
    There must be a secret formula!
  2. tonydawe A Fixture


    If you work on the basis that an average man is approximately 6 - 6.5 "heads" high, then all you need to do is scale the rest of the figure to match the size of the head you have already sculpted.

    Unless you are sculpting your figure to match other figures or accessories in a particular scale,it really doesn't matter what size of scale you sculpt in. The main thing is to ensue your proportions are correct in whatever scale you work in.
  3. TWOMOONS Active Member

    Thanks Tony, but I don't think I actually made myself clear.
    I don't have a problem with body scaling (or how large the rest of the figure is...I use 7 to 7 1/2 heads, incidentally..but that's not what I'm trying to find out)...it's after the figure is done, and it's however many inches tall, and I need the scale of this figure, how do I do it mathmatically?
    For instance: a 54mm figure is 1/32 is it not? So, a 60mm is 1/24 or something...that is what I'm trying to find out--the formula for that scale.
    Sorry I was so unclear in my original post.
  4. bonehead A Fixture

    Yo Phil,

    Um, what you really want to know is what is the size of an average head. I do not know. I think it is around eight inches from chin to crown. You might want to try and look this up. For instance, if we use your figure of 1.5 inches, you divide 8 (inches, my guess of average head size) by 1.5 and you get the figure 5.333333. So, the proportion would be 1/5.3333333 scale. I did this on a calculator. No need to twist around our heads for this crap anymore.

    But "scale" as it refers to figures is a bogus measure. "120mm" is not a scale, but a SIZE. 120mm in inches is about 4.7 inches. 4.7x16 will give us the equivalent in 1/16 scale - 75.2 inches, or 6 foot 3.2 inches. That is a pretty tall dude! If we multiply 4.7x15 (1/15 scale) we get 70.5 inches, or 5 foot 10.5 inches. Still tall but within reason.

    54mm, 120mm, 75mm and such are NOT scales! The big problem with figures, is that unlike scale models of cars and airplanes and such, they are not generally marketed by numerical fractional scale but sold as sizes. This really blows.

    Because I and a few others do figures to go with models, we must work to scales instead of sizes. I really try to do this correctly, but it is not easy and I do make mistakes (right Taesung?). But most figure sculptors and manufacturers do not even try. For instance, look at those nifty Russian figures in the "News" section today. Those Nagant rifles look pretty puny to me. It looks as if the figures are too large for the scale of the rifles.

    That is why scale is important, even if some sculptors and manufacturers choose to be unconscious about it.

    I hope this helps....

  5. TWOMOONS Active Member

    Thank You, Mr. Bonehead.
    Have a nice holiday. Mike...don't eat too many hot dogs.
  6. Barke02 Active Member

    Yeah!..............., lay off the hotdogs Mike, or should I call you Mr. Bonehead!,

    making you far too sensible man!
  7. je_touche Member

    My favorite topic again, it keeps coming up once in a while. ;-)

    I fully subscribe to what Mike has said. We should think in terms of scale instead of sizes even when dealing with figurines. I remember one single manufacturer (Thistle Miniatures?) who expressly anounce their figures as being 1/32nd scale, NOT 54 mm. Which means their size can vary exactly as human sizes vary in reality, but proportionwise they are IN SCALE.

    Re a model head or a bust for that matter you cannot tell what scale it is unless you define it as part of a tall or a small man. The taller the man the lesser is his overall height/ head ratio. Meaning, a tall man's head is still more or less the same size as a small man's, so the ratio height/ head is smaller. A ratio of 1/7 - 1/8 is for a rather tall man, a ratio of 1/6 - 1/6.5 for a pretty small men. In other words, if you want to make figures of the same scale you have to make their heads approximately the same size and keep their height within those ratios.

    In the smaller scales of under 1:35 or so the size/ head ratios tend to get bigger, that accounts for the 'big heads' often seen in the small scales. That should be avoided imo.
  8. garyjd Well-Known Member

  9. T50 A Fixture

    I believe there are more factors than length ratio of head/height
    for a head to look "right" mounted on a body.
    Sometimes you see figures that have correct ratio but looks off.
    For me, a few more things need to come together harmonically
    in order for the head to look right on the body. Things like the
    girth of the torso, width of the shoulders and overall appearance
    of the body play a big part in this when I look at figures.

    I do prefer a smaller head than a bigger one, though.
    I think it just "looks" better!
  10. Anders Heintz Well-Known Member

    If you want to know how many millimeters your figure will end up, just take your head size (1.5") and mulitiply it with however many heads tall you want to be (1.5 x 7 = 10.5" over all height) and then convert the inches to mm's (1" = 2.54cm) so 10.5 x 2.54 = 26.67 cm or 266.7mm...sooo your figure is a large 1/6thish scale I think. Yes totally unscientific and unspecific, but it is late and don't want to stretch the brain too far...hope it is of some help anyhow!
  11. bonehead A Fixture

    Yeah, I agree. But if you want a "short" figure and then add a "normal" sized head to it, the figure will not live up to your ideal. It will look like a pumpkin head, just a like a lot of real people do.

    So, what you are saying is that scale is important, as long as you can have idealized proportions. In other words, scale is NOT as important to you as the visual ideal. So, we are back to doing figures by size rather than scale.

    I'm just saying.....
  12. T50 A Fixture

    As long as the figure's overall height is within the acceptable range
    of a given scale, whatever happens inside of this overall height can
    be varied slightly IMHO. When you have 2 bodies with same height,
    one can look better with smaller head while the other one looks better
    with larger head. What I mean is that it's just not only the height/head
    ratio that counts. Simple math isn't gonna solve the puzzle. You have
    to use your eyes and be flexible. :)
  13. je_touche Member


    let's put it this way - simple maths won't solve the puzzle ALONE but they go a long way to explain the matter we are discussing about. Anything above a head-body ratio of 1/8 will be very much superhero style, anything beneath a ratio of 1/6 will be a midget.

    Other than that I agree with you. I did not go into detail because I wanted to keep it simple. It goes without saying that a fat face/ head should not be fitted on a skinny body. That's where the eye comes in, we have to decide what we find acceptable and what not.

    The only parts of a figure that definitely MUST be made to scale is anything that comes in defined sizes such as rifles or pieces of equipment. For the figurine itself we have a range of variation. If a rifle is in scale but looks too small or too large for a figure that might indicate the figure is out of scale.

    Re what Mike said in his post above I support the idea that figure makers should more often make realistic figures, meaning less idealized proportions. I would like to see an overweight or skinny figure more often, or any body type that would be more adequate to the given historical epoch than the athlete we are usually presented with. But opinions differ on that, some find a long-legged figure more elegant and pleasing to the eye.
  14. TWOMOONS Active Member

    I think my initial 'unclear' post as to exactly what my problem is possibly has started all this conversation (which is great), but Gary has actually provided me with the answer....thanks for all the responses.
    BTW, if I were sculpting a Zulu I would go for the "tall, elegant" scale...or is it size?
    If I were doing a Mongol or a Hun, I would go for a shorter, squatter figure...because of anthropological realities. And a larger head would be correct on a Mongoloid type, as their heads are larger in proportion to the rest of their body.
    Absaroke (Crow) were much taller than Apaches, but in miniature, I don't know how crazy you can get with all this.
    It's like the eyes...who would paint a figure without the pupils and whites, etc. of the eyes?... no one, I'm sure...but in reality, there's no way one would see anything but a shadow if a human were 54 0r 90 or 120 mm high in your field of vision.
    Painting a detailed eye on a miniature figure is really "artistic license".
  15. bonehead A Fixture

    Sculpting a figure in miniature is artistic license. The whole idea is an abstraction.
  16. TWOMOONS Active Member

    I think I'm getting a little lightheaded now.
    I also think this is one of Buddha's "temporary hypotheses" examples.
    Thanks for the buzz, Mike.
  17. fanai Well-Known Member

    Phil you think this is fun - I can have a 3 hour discussion with my dad about the 'origins' of scale and why 1 scale took over another etc - really mind bending
    even harder is when you do things like Dwarves and my animaltropic humans - I have to play a lot with scale and I totally ignore 120mm etc
  18. TWOMOONS Active Member

    I don't get it.
    Still not solved...this website will not allow me to change any of the numbers to get an answer...everything stays the same, no matter what I do, so it's sure not working, for me anyway.
    Thanks for the effort though.
  19. btavis Active Member

  20. Einion Well-Known Member

    This isn't really that tricky, once you grasp that everything basically follows the same principle; just work to a given scale, plug in the size of the thing you're representing and do some simple division - that's the size it needs to be.

    All you need is a basic calculator, no need for anything more sophisticated than the standard one built into Windows for example. Enter the dimensions and you're good to go.

    A bowstave is 31" long and you're working in 1/24 scale? Just divide 31" by 24.
    Say you're doing a two-figure vignette and one you decide represents someone 5'2" tall and the other is 5'6", simply dividing 62" and 66" by the scale number and there's the size the models should be.

    The problem I think you're running into is sculpting by the seat of the pants and then wanting to figure out what scale you just worked to. In this case you have to decide what size the thing you just made should be IRL and that gives you the scale - say a sculpted figure is 6.2" tall heel to crown and you think they look like they're five-four, 64 divided by 6.2 = 10.3 so you just worked at around 1/10 scale.

    Not really. Think of it this way: imagine you're looking at a person's eye from across the room, all the detail is of course present in that eye it's only that you can't see it. You can paint in something like that manner.

    If you can pick out all the details in an eye from 'scale distance' that's a different matter, the contrast is probably too high or the details are larger than they should be.

    FWIW the pupil is often not painted, especially at 1/32 and smaller, as you can see in photos of completed models here on pF.


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