Combining Scales

Today I’ll discuss miniature scales, once again. However, this time I want to talk about making your multi-scale miniature collection work together.

If your Main collection/set up is 1:12 scale…

  • A 1:18 or 1:24 figure can be a child or younger sibling to your 1:12 scale doll
  • A small stuffed animal, beanie baby size or smaller can be one of those huge bears your doll got for Valentine’s day
  • An O, HO and N scale figures can be various sizes of dolls for your 1:12 figure
  • HO and N scale accessories are also good for various play things and home decor
  • Does your 1:12 doll have a dollhouse? The 1:12 dolls’ dollhouse is most likely scaled to N scale accessories.

little house

IF YOUR MAIN COLLECTION/SET UP IS a model train scale…

Use those larger props as advertisements and public art pieces. Or use the dolls’ dollhouse as an actual house set up next to all the train model N scale houses. Use the toys from your 1:12 dollhouse as actual people and vehicles in your train model set.

if you have a variety of model train scales…

Let perspective work for you. While this method is best used when photographing miniatures, if you place your train set up at eye level, it should also do the trick. We’re talking about a simple(ish) art based optical illusion.

When you look at your surroundings, say down a road, or across a field, pinpoint an object – a tree, house, etc. Now hold up your fingers, close one eye, and pretend your going to pinch that far away object. If we didn’t understand perspective, it would seem as if that item that’s far away was actually just something that’s really small.

Using that thinking/visual trick, set up a scene with your largest model train accessories closest to you, and your smallest one’s farther away. Yes, your N scale house may be quite a bit too small for your O scale people, but if it’s placed in the back of the set and we view the scene, or photograph the scene, at eye level, it will appear that the N scale house is just way far in the distance.

This may be too simplistic for some of you, and way confusing for others, so hopefully some photo examples will clear things up/make this post worth your while.



Use a shallow depth of field for these so the further away images blurs out, making it look even further from the in focus object.



The figures in this image are greatly different in size and were in reality only a couple of inches apart.

*While this technique will work with O, HO and N scale combined, and maybe if you have a big enough set, another scale above and below those, you can’t use this for say a 1:12 dollhouse and an N scale house. Those sizes are just too drastically different. Our eyes probably couldn’t see that far in the distance in real life when standing right next to our own houses – even if we did have supernatural eye sight, something would probably block our view – a hill, tree, another building, etc. So…try to stick to scale miniatures that are a bit closer in size.

Let’s get whimsical…

Maybe you like your miniatures a bit playful. Scale in your sets doesn’t always have to be accurate. Use that 1:12 dollhouse toy train as the actual train in your Z scale set – sure it looks like a toy and not a real train, but maybe that just makes the ride more fun for your Z scale people. You can also use larger and smaller scale items to make a point – “that bike is huge,” he said, and you use an HO scale figure next to a 1:12 scale bike to illustrate the point. Anything even slightly off scale will stand out, and sometimes that’s a good thing.

  • Build the architecture of Atlantis out of seashells the size of your face, and fill those buildings with HO or N scale mermaids.
  • Use real flowers in the garden of you 1:12 scale house, or make a fairy garden.

I hope this simplistic post helps spur some ideas.

Question, comment, something to add? Feel free to let me know below :)

11 thoughts on “Combining Scales

Add yours

  1. I am not a photographer and in all honesty never considered being one or possibly having any talent in that area. With that said I want to thank you for what you say is a simple example of scale and possibly to simple for some but to me it is fascinating! I never dreamed I would find myself in a daily photo challenge but thanks to you I am and I enjoy it very much. Thank you for sharing your passion and passion rubs off.

Leave a Reply

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: