Window Study

My first Steps in Model Maker Architecture.

creator: x14km2d | build: 2021-09-17 | update: 2021-12-30


When you work as a model builder the transitions into the areas like architecture, mini painting, terrain building, cosplay and prop building are fluid. So, as you could guess from the window frame 3D-print, I have a somewhat larger project that I am building1. To get such a big project done it is good to divide it into smaller projects. This helps you to keep track of your project and not to overwork yourself. It is also important to always build a test or study first, for example, if you want to try out interesting elements or new paint techniques. Nothing is worse than seeing after 20 hours that the windows don’t look like you imagined. So I built a window study. I also used my 3D printer as the main tool for the first time in my life.

My major project is to be the house of a wizard. The lore is to be settled in Dungeons&Dragons, I want to implement in the future some tabletop project for this roleplaying setting. Unfortunately, the wizard took a wrong turn at some point in his studies and left the path of helping magic to just go completely insane. What does a mad wizard need? That’s right! The house of an insane wizard. I took inspiration from colonial american architecture, like the Jonathan Corwin House, German gothic and red brick stones. from that I created a mashup, which means walls made of wooden planks and window frames made of stone. I’m not quite sure I like it all yet, but that’s why I’m doing these studies to maybe put ideas back in the drawer and maybe use them for another project someday.

Actually, I also wanted to describe the color palette here, but then I took that out of the documentation again. Firstly, I wanted to focus on one point and secondly, I find my current color palette too cliché. The house is supposed to fit into the D&D fantasy world and I have to do some tests to make it fit, so this documentation ends with the priming of the window study. I got my inspiration, or rather the basic idea for my large-scale project, from the video Miniature Aunt Josephine’s House from A Series of Unfortunate Events by MechanicalFiend. Be sure to check out the video, because the attention to detail in this modeling project is terrific and rare.


The first thing I learned in my major project was how stupid I am. Instead of sitting down for five minutes and thinking about it, I spent the first 1 hour cutting wooden planks out of cardboard scraps with scissors. At some point I didn’t like the straight edges, which made everything seem a little unreal and didn’t look like real wood planks. By this test, however, that had changed. By chance, I then found an old paper shredder that does the job. This also frays the edges so that they look more authentic.


Since this is just a simple study, we will not use expensive material. Cardboard and small 3D-printed components will be enough to implement this project. We start gluing the prefabricated wooden planks made of cardboard to the base from the bottom. We use wood glue so that we can still move the planks back and forth if necessary. In between we use shorter planks to add variations and interesting details to the model. After gluing all the planks, we cut the edges of the base straight.

At first I was going to just glue the window frames on, but then I decided to at least cut holes in the cardboard for the visual effect of a window. After that I started to put a frame around the window with bricks. Actually I only wanted to put a windows sill on the lower side, but then I glued bricks there as well. This was a good decision. Since this is a private project and not a commissioned work, I decided to build as many details as possible by hand. Sure, I could simply make a cast of this window study and produce the windows in series, but for once I don’t want to do that.

When working on a study or test model, you should always have material ready to draw and write down. Keep your sentences and sketches short and concise. Do not make art drawings, just write things down with a pencil or black fineliner. This is important because first and foremost you should try out ideas in practice and not think about the dry theory. You can do that at a later time. And one more important point. Studies don’t have to work. it’s not about the right result, it’s about trying things out. Sometimes you have an idea in your head that looks super good there. But when you build it, you might find that it doesn’t look so good after all.

So far I have nothing wrong with the idea of using bricks as a frame. I just needed to create a keystone to represent the top of the gothic window. I used baking paper to trace the shape of the keystone and scanned this drawing with Gimp. Then created an svg file in Inkscape, built it in Freecad, and then sliced it in SuperSlicer2. This process is already routine and can be done quickly by me. It was only after I edited the photos that I saw the pixel art hearts.

In the last step, I created window shutter and printed it with my 3D printer. After that, I also glued them with the cardboard wood planks and let them dry overnight. The next day I cut them with a sharp modeling knife and glued them to the window frames with superglue. So far it was all pretty good. I then quickly primed everything with Mod Podge and hilghlighted with a white primer. What is the result so far?


The planks look great and I like them that way. To make this a little more detailed, I may do a wire brush on the planks on the large model after the fact to make it look more like wood grain. I’ve seen this done in some video and it seems to work quite well.

The windows are time intensive, but since this is a private project, I will ignore that. I have no time limit set and if I need a year for the model, then that’s just how it is. The model must primarily please me and no customer. I like the bricks and I have to see how I can better set the scene later in the paint job.

Gluing the wooden planks to the window shutters is ultra exhausting and I am toying with the idea of making this job easier with prefabricated models. But at the same time the windows are a point of interest in my model. On this question I have not yet decided on a strategy.

Overall, the test was positive and I will include the windows in my project with a few small changes. Besides, I learned a lot about American architecture. In any case, it has already been worthwhile for me.


  1. Slightly larger is slightly understating it, because so far I’ve spent the first 50 hours just on the actual model and gluing on roof tiles and wooden planks. That’s escalated a lot again here. happens to me way too often, unfortunately. Bad for my other projects, good for you if you want to have something to look at.↩︎

  2. A quick note about commercial software. I learned design for a while and then through work used the super expensive, awesome and highly acclaimed products. Since 2009, I’ve only been using open source software. Has my work gotten worse as a result? No. A designer is only as good as the designer is good. A crappy designer will only be able to build what his skills allow. If the designers skills are shit, the designer will only produce shit. Period. Yes, good tools, and software is a tool, can make your job easier and you can get jobs and processes done faster. But it does not make you a good designer in the first place. The argument of professionals that a professional illustrator, industrial designer, model maker must use only the most expensive products is simply parroted advertising. And I will also prove that in the next few weeks, that even you can implement master projects with dollar store items, open source software and cheapest materials. I will never use Cura when I have open source alternatives (I don’t use Cura because they sniff all my project data - I don’t want that). If you really want to see how good a designer or model maker is, throw him a pile of cardboard, pencil and wood glue on his work table. He must not use any software or other tools. Only then you will see who has real talent and who is only hiding behind the blink of his tools. Not a rant, just a comment. Because people often try to convince me that you can’t implement good projects with open source software.↩︎

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