To-Scale Models


Students will demonstrate the skills necessary to create a production model that is to scale.


Materials Needed

Paper, tape, cardstock, and rulers for each student; example of a scale set design model; puzzle


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Lesson Directions

Anticipatory Set/Hook

As students arrive, have them gather in a circle on the floor. Give them five minutes to put the puzzle together that is in the center of the floor.



Step 1: Transition – Ask students what was needed in order for them to see the complete picture of the puzzle. (Collaboration, all the pieces, an idea of the theme of the puzzle that leads one to conclusions about what the end product should look like, a bit of effort, etc.)


Step 2: Instruction – Explain that just like the puzzle, the design model is a final culmination of the design concept, the preliminary sketches, and the renderings. It presents the details of the set design fully to help everyone working on it know exactly how it’s supposed to look, what goes where, etc. The model is generally fully painted and completely decorated with all of the furniture, props, and set dressing that will be used during the production. However, for our purposes, furniture, props, and set dressing will be left out. To better understand the relationship between the set, stage, and audience and to have an accurate representation of the finished set, the model will be to scale and three dimensional.


Check for Understanding – Ask students what function the model serves. (The model verifies and solidifies the design concept.)


Step 3: Modeling – Have students return to their desks. Pass out a piece of paper, a piece of cardstock, a pair of scissors, and a ruler to each student. Talk students through an exercise in which you instruct them to draw a line so far up on their cardstock, using their ruler. They will be drawing the dimensions of the stage, the dimensions that their set design will need to adhere to. Next, talk them through measurements to draw on their piece of paper noting that the measurements being used are on a ½” to 1’0” scale. Have students cut the paper on the measured lines they have drawn. Instruct them now to fit and fasten their cut-out paper vertically onto the measured lines drawn on the cardstock. Yes, it’s like kindergarten, but we have just created an extremely simplified functional design model.


Check for Understanding – Ask students what questions they might have about creating their own design model.


Step 4: Instruction – Show the example of a scale design model. Allow students to come around and see all of its aspects. Explain that their models will need to have colors and textures drawn on them and that the model needs to be to scale according to the dimensions of the school’s stage. (Ex. 40’ x 30’).


Step 5: Closure – Instruct students that their design model will be the culminating and final project of the set design section. They will need to prepare a short presentation for the class including the name of their play, the design concept they have chosen, their thumbnail sketch and color rendering and their production model. 



On the final day of the unit, students will present a simplified version of a scale model of their scenic design and a brief explanation on how they came to design what they did.