Saturday, July 20, 2013

Making More Windows, or Through a Glass Darkly

Yes, those are real windows! (I haven't added windows
the top window frames yet.)

Those of you familiar with the Bible may recall the Apostle Paul's comment about how, when it comes to the our inability to see very far into the future, we "see through a glass (a window) darkly." (Those of you are filmophiles--lovers of classic movies--may recall it is also the title of an Ingmar Bergman film.)

It's an apt description of real-life windows, too, especially when it comes to modelling them on our layouts.

As I noted a few years ago in a post about how I make windows using photos of real windows, I admire those who build intricate interiors in their model buildings--it's a skill I don't possess.

Windows done previously.

But as I also wrote, I'm not sure it's necessary, unless you like making interiors or are building a contest-quality model--you can't see the inside of a building from the outside, anyway. We see, in other words, through a glass darkly.

Check it out the next time you are in front of a building during daytime; the most you can see inside a typical building is just a few feet (or as far as the sunlight might be penetrating).

Even if the lights inside are on, it doesn't matter; it's just dark. (If the lights are on, you can see the bulbs, but that's all.)

Of course, things are different at night. Then you can see right inside. But most of us don't operate our layouts in the dark.

When I realized this was the case, it revolutionized the way I make windows on my buildings. I took my camera and took photos of building windows. After making prints on glossy paper, I cut out the windows I needed and glued them into my buildings.

How I glue them in; photos of windows in front.

This was especially helpful for the many false-front buildings on the M & M Sub. (see photo near the top); the photos help give them a sense of depth. They also provide details that would otherwise be hard to replicate--things like blinds, curtains, signs, posters and storefront displays.

The last time I made windows using this technique was three or more years ago. As the new town of Ritchie takes shape, I need to add windows to buildings in that town. Got to make it look livable!

Another shot of the photos I use.

Another bonus from this method is that if you have a photo of a friend or family member (or even yourself), you can put him or her in the window.

As you can see from the photos, it's easy to do; take photos of the fronts of buildings, print the photos on glossy paper, cut out the window you want to use, put some glue along the inside edge of the window, then glue them on. Done! (Note: By using glossy paper you don't need to use the clear plastic glazing that comes with kits.)

The photos in this post show the work in progress; when done, I'll post the final result.

Progress so far . . . .


  1. "...if you have a photo of a friend or family member (or even yourself), you can put him or her in the window."

    Or as Paul wrote, then see face-to-face!


  2. I used this technique on a building I was modeling. I couldn't find a commercially available window that worked, so I took scaled my photos of the prototype and glued them in. Viola! They are the best looking windows I've ever done.