In doing the prep work for the warehouse model, I have to figure out the overall dimensions of the actual building. So how do you measure a four story building that’s nearly half a city block long? You count bricks. At least, that’s how I do it. I only need a handful of key measurements like the sizes of the windows and loading doors, along with the spaces in between them. To figure that out, I simply count how many brick courses high each one is and the number of full bricks wide. Fortunately, all of the doors and windows are the same size, so I can just duplicate their number to get the overall building dimensions. If you can get good photos of your chosen building, it’s a straightforward task to determine the specs you’ll need.
To layout the model, I need to know the number of courses from the top of the concrete foundation to the bottom of the loading doors, how wide the space between the doors is and how many courses high the door openings are. In this case there are six full courses between the top of the foundation and the bottom of the loading doors. The doors are 48 courses high overall and 16.5 full bricks wide. From the corner of the building to the edge of the first door opening is six full bricks wide. Each pilaster between the doors is the same dimension, making it easy to layout the length of the building. From the bottom of the doors to the concrete strip above is 57 courses and the concrete strip itself is four courses high. From there to the window sill on the second floor is 21 courses and the window itself is 17 courses high. From the top of the second floor window to the sill of the third floor window, it’s 33 courses. I assume the same number from the third to fourth floor windows, judging by my photos. I’ll have to do more research to understand what happens above the fourth floor windows to the cornice. All of these numbers give me the spacing I need to accurately determine the door and window layout for the entire building flat. I plan to use brick sheets from Plastruct and JTT and all I have to do is count the required number of courses high and the number of bricks wide, then transfer those measurements to my substructure.

There is however, a slight difference in the size of the individual bricks between these two products and I will have to keep that in mind when doing the layout. Mind you, the difference is very slight but it will compound with each course of bricks; so I will have to experiment before going too deep into the construction. I’ve been stockpiling these sheets for months and may have enough of one brand to do the flat without having to mix and match. Luckily, the doors and windows break up the wall into discreet modules; so I won’t have to try matching or blending two different sizes of bricks. I tend to be compulsive about stuff like this. Getting the dimensions accurate is important to me, even though others would be happy if the overall proportions are simply close. It only takes a little extra effort to get it right from the beginning and, given the amount of work to come, why wouldn’t you make that effort? The temperature is going to be warm this weekend; so I can break out the portable table saw and start the substructure. Hopefully, I’ll have some progress to share soon. Regards, Mike


  1. Chris Mears

    Not related to the structure project, but a compliment on the evolution of the design of the blog itself. I really like where this is going. The posts are starting to look a lot more like pages from a book – very cleanly designed. Further, they look like the pages from one of your books so it’s nice to see a common thread of design stretching across media and tying it together as a brand. Well done.


  2. Chris Mears

    Back to the structure though. Nice method to describe translating prototype dimensions to model form – measure one brick course and multiple. It’s a simple skill but helps us relate to something as massive as this in terms of its component parts. Another of those tiny skills we start to learn but might never think to share.



  3. Chris Mears

    Do you plan to model the warehouse in this state (i.e. boarded up)?


  4. mike

    Thanks Chris.

    I used the same method when rendering pen & ink building portraits. It sounds tedious but it actually isn’t. I had the numbers I needed for the warehouse in just a few minutes time, complete with a rough sketch to use at the workbench. I don’t plan to model a boarded up building even though it would simplify the modeling. With so many windows to do I plan to make a master and cast the quantity I need. I may do the same with the doors but might scratchbuild them instead.

    Thanks also for the comments on the evolving blog post formats. I’m experimenting with them and this week I discovered something I need to consider about the two column text format. It looks great on my desktop monitor where I can read it in its entirety. As a responsive site it reverts to a single column in portrait orientation on my iPad but in landscape mode, I had to back scroll a bit to read the top of the second column. Not a good experience for reading and something to be aware of in the future. However, in all, I like the flexibility I now have to design things.


  5. Chris Mears

    Regarding the column format on smaller screens. I typically read the blog and most of my internet on a desktop PC or on the laptop – both offering a similar screen. Interesting the comments regarding screens on mobile devices, such as your iPad, and how the screen renders there.


  6. Simon

    There is however, a slight difference in the size of the individual bricks between these two products and I will have to keep that in mind when doing the layout.

    This is also true of the real thing – and it is handy to know that different model manufactures use slightly different sizes as this provides for greater verisimilitude.


  7. mike

    So true Simon. So true.


  8. Ctown

    This post doesn’t show up under the blog post lists (under Read the blog). I saw the facebook post earlier, so I had a link but when I looked from my bookmark for the blog this latest post didn’t show.

  9. mike

    Try clearing your browser cache and any cookies. I just did a theme security update, which might also contribute to your problem.


  10. Simon


    I have been having that problem, even after clearing my cache, but it has now gone away!

    Mike: you seem to have fixed it for me!


  11. mike

    Well, I won’t take credit for something I may or may not have done. If “I” fixed your problem, I have no idea how.


  12. Simon


    Probably a by-product of the security update – who knows? Certainly not us!

    On the combined points of counting bricks and size of bricks, it is useful to have some reference for the size of the bricks, e.g. a standard piece of ironwork on the road, a door frame or a person (but people vary in height!) Too many years ago I went to measure a station building, but ended up taking lots of photos instead, and simply took dimensions of the brickwork – remember to measure a brick plus a mortar line!