Once you have identified a building to model, use your web browser to search for photographs and diagrams of the building. All you really need are photographs, but finding plans or elevation drawings is a bonus.

In this example the Margaret Hunter Shop in Williamsburg, Virginia is being modeled. The most pressing issue is to decide the basic size of the model. Three inches was chosen as the desired width of the front of the model. A plan had been found, so the first step was to use the plan to determine the side measurement.

Merge the plan into the design file. Set the transparency to about 50% so that the design can be drawn on easily. Resize it so that the width is 3 inches. Then draw a big main rectangle around the basic structure. Draw additional smaller rectangles for elements that will be a part of the model (steps, chimney, shed, etc). Pull the plan image and the drawing off the edge of your design space.

Now the elevation of the building and placement of major elements need to be planned. For this, a view of the front of the building as straight s possible should be used. Again, merge that image into your design document and lower the transparency. Resize it so that the width is 3 inches. (You could draw yourself a guide rectangle to make this easier.) Use the knife tool to remove chunks of the image that are not useful.

Then draw rectangles around the elements you will need when you design the model. Pay attention to placement and size of windows, doors, dormers, steps, etc. You may notice an anomaly such as drastically different sizes for dormers. You will need to decide whether that anomaly is a real difference in size, or an artifact introduced by the photograph being not quite straight. In this example, the drawing shows a compromise between the two dormers. This will allow them to be made the same size.

Pull the image and the drawing off the design space as before. Refer to these guides for basic measurements and placements, but let them be a guide rather than an absolute. For example, when you design the roof, make it symmetrical. Align windows. Regularize measurements when it makes sense.