Beginner’s Guide to Model Building

As a beginner in model building, here’s a guide on how you can jumpstart your model building.

Starting with a model kit

For beginners, a model kit is an ideal thing to practice on. These kits already include complete parts you need to start building. Let’s say start with a simple car model kit. This will eventually develop your skills and boost your confidence in upgrading to more complex kits or sets. Although these kits are for beginners, they also come with customized parts for your enjoyment.


As a beginner in model building, you also need to consider the cost of your model buildings. It is recommended that you start with a low-cost kit while building your skills since beginners like you are still expected to make mistakes throughout the process. Therefore, your money will not be put to waste with an inexpensive kit should you give up trying to break some pieces in the process.

Size and Scale

Model building requires you to know the sizes and scales available and how each one works. For instance, there are stark differences between a 1:84 HMS Victory scale from a 1:700 HMS Exeter.

You may ask, what do these numbers mean, and are they crucial in the effective model building? To answer your questions, yes, they are important. To further understand how the numbers work and the different scales available in the market, let’s take the 1:84 HMS Victory scale model as an example.

In the model, the number ‘1’ on the left of the ratio represents the model. Meanwhile, the number ‘84’ on the right of the ratio represents how many times the model was scaled down with the original. This means that the model is 84 times smaller than the real one.

Now, on to the question of which scale is best for beginners. This usually depends on your preference. Just note that the smaller the model is, the faster it is to be finished. However, if you are the type who enjoys more details on your models, a bigger scale model is a good option.

Why is it important to familiarize yourself with scales and use the right ones? This will help you achieve a more uniform look on your models when adding accessories or customized pieces you made, so no awkward accessories stick out because of their disproportionate sizes or scales.

a set of model pieces

Material and Quality

Like with any other product in the market, your model kits are also made of different materials, and each material has its pros and cons.

For beginners, plastic model kits are suggested since they are effortless to glue together. Of course, there are other model kits made of different materials. You may also consult your supplier for any recommendations.

Finally, one of the very last factors you need to consider before buying your model is the model that works best to your skill level. If you are a beginner, make sure that you also purchase a beginner-friendly model.

After buying your first model kit, you need the right tools to build your first model. In assembling your model, you will need the following:

  • X-acto or surgical knife (for removing the parts from the sprue, trimming the edges, and cut decals)
  • Glue (to attach the parts together and fill in any gaps)
  • Sandpaper or nail file (to smoothen the edges)
  • Tweezers (for handling the very small parts)
  • Paintbrushes and paint (for finishing the assembled model)

Read the instructions carefully

model train

Reading instructions can be a challenge to some. While beginner model builders can easily understand some instructions, others cannot. Read the instructions before doing anything. As you read the instructions, examine the pieces and make sense of what you are reading. Compare the parts you have with the illustration on the packaging.

Remember that your goal is to build a model exactly or as close to the illustration as possible. Have patience while in this stage. Be happy with what you can accomplish since it is your stepping stone to developing your skills. With constant practice, you will be able to get past the beginner stage and on to the next levels of model building.

Glue your pieces

When gluing your model parts together, you need special plastic glue. A small amount of adhesive can be sufficient in connecting surfaces and put them together with a small amount of pressure. Should the excess adhesive go off the sides of the surfaces, never wipe it off. Instead, let it dry and then, later on, smoothen the surface with sandpaper.

Note: Always glue in a well-ventilated area.

Paint your models

Add more life to your creation by adding color to it to resemble the actual thing. Experts recommend that you use fast-drying, water-soluble, and non-hazardous enamel paint colors when painting models.

However, before starting to paint, consider how you would handle your pieces while painting without getting paint on your hand. Also, decide where you will put your pieces after painting them to avoid the paint from staining any surface or being washed off.