an aerial view of a building with a circular roof

Architectural Model Supplies: The Complete Guide for Beginners

Aspiring architects and students often need to create physical models of their designs to communicate their ideas effectively. However, creating these models requires a range of specialized materials and tools. In this article, we will discuss the essential architectural model supplies you need to create stunning and accurate physical models that impress your professors, clients, or colleagues.

1. Introduction

Architectural models are a crucial part of the design process for architects, designers, and engineers. They provide a tangible representation of a design concept, making it easier to communicate ideas to clients, investors, and colleagues. Creating architectural models requires a combination of creativity, attention to detail, and technical skills.

In this article, we will guide you through the essential architectural model supplies, tools, and techniques that you need to create stunning models. From choosing the right scale to selecting the best materials, we will cover everything you need to know to get started.

2. Types of Architectural Models

There are several types of architectural models, each with its unique purpose and level of detail. The most common types include block models, massing models, interior models, and landscape models.

Block models are the simplest type of architectural model, representing the overall form and shape of a building. Massing models are more detailed, representing the building’s volume and basic features, such as walls and openings. Interior models show the interior spaces of a building, including furniture, fixtures, and lighting. Landscape models depict the surrounding environment, such as trees, terrain, and other natural features.

3. Choosing the Right Scale

Choosing the right scale is crucial when creating architectural models. The scale determines the size of the model in relation to the actual building. The most common scales for architectural models are 1:50, 1:100, and 1:200.

A scale of 1:50 means that one unit on the model represents 50 units in the real building. For example, a model of a 10-meter building would be 20 centimeters tall at a scale of 1:50. A scale of 1:100 means that one unit on the model represents 100 units in the real building, while a scale of 1:200 means that one unit on the model represents 200 units in the real building.

4. Essential Tools for Model Making

To create stunning architectural models, you need a range of specialized tools and supplies. Here are some essential tools you will need:

1. Cutting Tools

Cutting tools are essential for shaping and trimming materials to the desired size and shape. Some essential cutting tools for model making include:

  • Scalpel: A surgical-grade knife with a fine blade used for precise cuts and detailing
  • Scissors: Used for cutting paper, fabric, and other lightweight materials
  • Rotary Cutter: A tool with a circular blade used for cutting fabrics and thick materials

2. Measuring and Marking Tools

Accurate measurement is crucial when creating architectural models. Some essential measuring and marking tools include:

  • Ruler: Used for measuring and drawing straight lines
  • Square: A tool used for drawing right angles and ensuring accuracy in corners
  • Compass: Used for drawing circles and curves
  • Protractor: Used for measuring and drawing angles

3. Adhesives

Adhesives are essential for joining different materials and creating sturdy models. Some essential adhesives for model making include:

  • PVA Glue: A white glue that dries clear and is ideal for bonding paper, cardboard, and wood
  • Super Glue: A fast-drying adhesive that is ideal for bonding plastic, metal, and other materials
  • Epoxy: A two-part adhesive that creates a strong and durable bond between different materials

4. Painting and Finishing Supplies

Painting and finishing supplies are essential for adding the final touches to your models. Some essential painting and finishing supplies include:

  • Paintbrushes: Used for applying paint and other finishing materials
  • Sandpaper: Used for smoothing and finishing rough surfaces
  • Spray Paint: A quick and easy way to add color and finish to your models

5. Lighting and Display Accessories

Lighting and display accessories are essential for showcasing your models in the best possible way. Some essential lighting and display accessories include:

  • LED Lights: Used for illuminating your models and highlighting important features
  • Base and Display Case: A base and display case can protect your models and provide a professional-looking display.

5. Best Materials for Architectural Model Making

Choosing the right materials is crucial when creating architectural models. Here are some of the best materials for architectural model making:

1. Balsa Wood

Balsa wood is a lightweight and easy-to-work-with material that is perfect for creating models. It is available in different thicknesses and can be easily cut and shaped with a knife or saw.

2. Foam Board

Foam board is a lightweight and sturdy material that is ideal for creating models of buildings and landscapes. It can be easily cut and shaped with a knife or saw and can be painted or covered with other materials.

3. Acrylic Sheets

Acrylic sheets are transparent and can be easily cut and shaped to create windows, skylights, and other transparent features in models. They can also be painted or covered with other materials.

4. 3D Printing Materials

3D printing materials, such as PLA and ABS, can be used to create highly detailed and accurate models. They can be used to create intricate shapes and details that are difficult to achieve with traditional model making materials.

5. Modeling Clay

Modeling clay is a versatile material that can be easily molded and shaped to create intricate details and textures in models. It can also be painted or covered with other materials.

6. Techniques for Model Making

Creating architectural models requires a combination of creativity and technical skills. Here are some essential techniques for creating stunning models:

1. Simple Block Models

Simple block models are the easiest type of model to create. They involve cutting and shaping materials to represent the overall shape and form of a building.

2. Detailed Massing Models

Detailed massing models involve adding more detail and texture to block models to represent the building’s volume and basic features, such as walls and openings.

3. Interior Models

Interior models represent

the inside of a building and require careful planning and attention to detail. They involve creating miniature furniture, fixtures, and accessories to create a realistic representation of the building’s interior space.

4. Landscape Models

Landscape models are used to represent the surrounding environment of a building, such as gardens, parks, and other outdoor spaces. They require careful attention to detail and may involve creating miniature trees, plants, and other natural features.

5. Lighting and Sound Models

Lighting and sound models are used to simulate the effects of light and sound in a building. They require specialized knowledge and equipment, such as LED lights and speakers, to create a realistic representation of the building’s lighting and sound features.

7. Tips for Creating Architectural Models

Creating architectural models can be a challenging but rewarding process. Here are some tips to help you create stunning models:

1. Plan Ahead

Before you start creating your model, it’s essential to plan out the materials, tools, and techniques you will need to use. Make sure you have all the necessary supplies on hand before you start.

2. Take Your Time

Creating a high-quality architectural model takes time and patience. Don’t rush the process and take the time to ensure that each detail is precise and accurate.

3. Experiment with Different Materials

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different materials and techniques to create unique and stunning models. Try combining different materials to create interesting textures and finishes.

4. Use Reference Images

Reference images are an excellent way to ensure accuracy and detail in your models. Use reference images to guide the design and details of your models.

5. Showcase Your Work

Once your model is complete, don’t be afraid to showcase your work. Share your models on social media or in local art shows to get feedback and recognition for your hard work.


Creating architectural models is a complex and rewarding process that requires a combination of creativity, technical skills, and attention to detail. With the right tools, materials, and techniques, anyone can create stunning architectural models that showcase their creativity and skills.