Opening Screen:

Registration: When you first open Model Builder, you can register on-line. There is also a Registration option in the "Help" drop-down menu of the Design Screen. When you fill out the registration and click submit, your Registration information goes into an e-mail that you can then send. This may not work with some e-mail programs, so there is also manual option where you can paste the registration information into an e-mail to submit it.

New Design: Select your scale or ratio & choose "Enter". You can check on the checkbox to suppress the startup screen if you model in one scale. If you select this option, Model Builder will default to your chosen scale each time you enter the program. If you need to switch Modeling Scales in the future, select the "Model Builder Setup" option from the "File" Drop-Down Menu in the design screen.

Open Saved File: Open a project that you have already saved to a file..

When you start a new project in Model Builder, Select "File" "Project/Page Setup" to set up the expected size of your project. If you prefer to work in Metric, select Metric from the units drop down menu before you start setting up your pages. Set your page dimensions and number of Project Pages Before starting to create buildings. You can readjust the page setup any time, as needed.

If you are working in Scales smaller than HO(1:87) you will only see one page in the Project/Setup Window.

In "Page Setup" Choose landscape or portrait orientation and adjust page margins. To create larger structures, you can set up a multi-page project. If you need another page horizontally select the "Include" check box on If you need more pages vertically, select the "Include" Check box on Will be selected automatically if you select both, and The Multi-Page Print Overlap identifies how much overlap there will be between pages. In print preview, overlap will display as a cross-hatched area.

When you return to the Design Screen the Design Screen will show the increased project size. Use the Scroll bar at the bottom or right side of the screen to Scroll over to work on the other parts of the project. To decide whether you will need to include more pages, for your planned project, check the striped Project size info boxes. They will let you know the final printed size of your project . Multi-page projects will print with registration marks at the top or bottom and left or right of each page for cutting and alignment guides.

If you need to re-print a single page after your initial print, you can check the box on the page you need to reprint . Deselect the other pages to only print that page.

    A. Top Menu Bar:
    There are many menu choices for working with your images. Click on each menu option to see what choices are available.

    File menu options: There are many options to review. You have options set up your printer choose a page size. You can save your work at any time. Start a new design by selecting the "New Design" option. The "Open" menu option opens the file browser. This file browser will open any mb4 file in the current Model Builder Scale. If you want to open a file in another scale, choose the "Model Builder Set Up" option. Importing ".bmp", ".jpg", ".gif" graphics and ".wmf" line drawings is covered later in this manual. Print Preview is also covered later.

    Edit menu has Undo, Redo, Copy and Paste. Note that there are keyboard shortcuts available for copy and paste. Copy and paste work with material and objects you have placed on the Model Builder Design Screen. Undo and redo can be used on the last Image manipulation such as move, stretch, crop/paint.

    Selection Works with the currently selected item. Choices are: Duplicate, Delete, Properties, Unselect, and Redraw. The Redraw option is useful if the object or material you are working with does not re-appear correctly or completely after you Stretch or Crop/Paint it. Redraw will refresh the computer’s video card.

    Layout: The layout drop down has several options

    Screen Zoom—Use this option to enlarge/reduce the size of what you see on the Design Screen. This does not alter the printed output, but can be helpful to see more detail (zoom in), or view the whole page (zoom out).

    Clear background: get rid of a background have you selected. Background properties: gives information about a material background.

    Plans: The plans drop down menu has options for working with building plans. All of the Building plans are located as the last selection in the "Other" category drop down list. There are currently 6 building plans available. Building Plan options include: "Clear Diagram": to remove a diagram from the design screen. "Move Diagram": to move to better fit on the pages. "Re-size diagram

    Arrange: Use the "Bring to Front" "Send to Back" options to layer windows, doors, trim, or foundation onto Bricks, Siding, Cement or Stucco. Align and Distribute are discussed later in this manual.

    Units: You can choose between English, Metric or :

    Actual Feet: The actual feet ruler is very helpful when you are building structures, as you will see in the project idea booklet. The actual feet ruler works with any scale to show "real life" measurements for the structure you are creating.

    Thumbnail: To use the thumbnail menu, select an object from the current image palette by clicking on it, then click on the thumbnail menu and choose your action. You can also access this same drop down menu by right clicking on any of the Image Thumbnails. "Preview Selected" Gives you a close up preview of the selected item. "Use as Background" tiles the image across the whole screen for use as a backdrop behind windows, doors and trim.

    Background is material that spans the entire printable area. A project can have only one Background. If you want to print an entire sheet of a single material, you can print the background without any other images. The Background option will be covered in more detail in the material designer section. "Add item" and "Unselect" are as they state.

    ": to make a larger or smaller building using the same line diagram. "Building Plan Help": is a brief tutorial on making buildings using building plans. You can print the "help" if you want to by right clicking on the help page and choosing "Print"

    Project: Shows the name of the file you are currently working on. It also has a tool to redisplay the scroll bars if the scroll bars are not displaying correctly.

    Help: access a copy of the model builder manual and project ideas, get more help on building plans and modeling, register your copy of Model Builder and check the website for updates. New! View thumbnails of all of the images in Model Builder in the 3 image Libraries: Materials, Windows/Doors, and Other

    B. Material Dimension boxes
    are used for typing in your desired measurement for a material or object. Notice the "maintain aspect ratio" check box. If you check this box, you are able to keep the ratio of width to height the same while resizing and object. The Material Dimensions also give you information about the location of an object on the page. For example if you are locating a window, you can type in the inches that the top of your window is located Down and Left From the top of your Building.
    C. The Tools labeled Bricks and Siding
    are the Brick and Siding Material designers. Choosing either button brings up another work screen where you can create custom bricks and custom sidings. The material designers are explained in more detail later in this manual.
    D. The Crop/Paint and Stretch tools
    are explained in detail later in this discussion when we begin working with images.
    E.There are many palettes of materials and objects available to work with.
    Choose the down arrow next to each main category to see the subcategories of materials. Be sure to scroll all the way down in the "Other" Category to see all of the options available.
    F. The vertical and horizontal rulers:
    Use these rulers to check the size of your material and arrange everything on the page. Your ruler is set for English Tenths. If you prefer Metric Centimeters, choose Metric—cm from the Units drop-down menu. There is also a choice for "English Inches —Actual" that is very useful.
    G. Clicking this arrow will show you all of the additional choices in the image palette you are in. Since most material palates have more images than can fit the browser, you will be able see the rest of what is available by clicking this arrow.

Working with Images:

Adding Images - Click on any image in any palette to select it. A blue border is shown around the selected image. When an image is selected, move your mouse over the design screen’s drawing area, and the mouse icon will have a + sign in it. Click to drop the image onto the design screen.

There are 2 types of images in Model Builder :

Materials: Bricks, Stone, Siding, Wood, Metal, Roofing, Trim

Objects: Windows, Doors, Lattice, Utilities, etc.

When you select Materials a small section of the material will appear on the screen. Click once on the material and you will see White "Crop/Paint" boxes that can be dragged to make more of the material without changing its size.

When you select Objects the complete object will appear on the design screen. Click once on the object and you will see Black ‘Stretch" Boxes that can be dragged to resize the image without making more window panes.

An image can be moved or resized 2 ways:

Specifying change the position of a selected object by typing the numerical location in the Material Dimensions boxes labeled top and left. You can also refer to the rulers on the side of the work screen to check you object position. To resize an object, you can use the boxes labeled width and height.

Dragging hold your mouse down on the image and drag it to the desired position on your building, or drag the object to the desired size. Release the mouse button, the object will stay in its new location or size.

Sizing & Stretching Images - : After you place an Image on the Design Screen, click the image and look at the 2 Drawing Mode Tools to see which Tool is selected.

Crop- Paint Mode: For Material such as Brick, Stone, Siding, Metal, and Wood, the Crop/Paint Tool is selected automatically. In this mode you can remove or add material to the image as you change the size without changing the scale of the Material.

For example, if you want to make your Brick wall wider or longer, you would want to add more bricks in your scale, instead of enlarging the bricks. When the Crop/Paint Icon is activated, the selected image has 3 hollow crop/ paint squares .

In this example, more brick was added by dragging the white crop/paint square at the right of the image.

To add more material to the top or left side,. move the material up, or to the left, and then add more material using the bottom and or the right crop/paint squares.

Stretch Mode For Objects such as windows and doors, the Stretch Tool will be selected by default.

To adjust the size of this window, we grabbed the black sizing square on the right of the image and stretched the window, giving bigger window panes instead of adding panes. Stretch objects larger either using the sizing squares on any side of the image, or by typing in your desired measurement in object dimension measurement boxes on the menu bar.

Here we added more panes to a factory window without changing the size of the panes. We used the "Crop/Paint" Tool to add more window material.

Maintain Aspect Ratio: The "Maintain Aspect Ratio" check box ensures that both the width and height of an image change proportionally as you adjust the size of an object with the Stretch Mode. Check this box when you want to stretch an item proportionally.

Grouping Objects: To group objects, click each object you want to include in your group while holding down the shift key. You will see a dotted blue line around each item. Grouped items can be aligned, distributed and duplicated.

Group Align: Once you have grouped items, choose "Arrange" and "Align Selected" from the menu bar. Align the tops, bottoms or sides of all the selected items. You can now duplicate the group (shortcut: "Ctl D") and move the duplicate to make another row. Align is useful in making rows of windows. Align "top" is also useful for objects from the cornice palette, when you are creating a cornice with end caps.

Group Distribute: If you have grouped 3 or more items, you can Distribute the items Horizontally, Vertically, or both. The "Distribute" option is available from the "Arrange" drop-down menu.

*If you want to distribute your selected windows or objects across a background wall, select your wall along with the objects. Make sure your wall extends past the objects that are being distributed on it.


Background: For creating a large amount of material, such as all of the sides of a multi-story building, it is best to use the material as a background. Material greater than 7 inches in any dimension should be used as background. Model Builder will run faster this way, and you will not accidentally move the background since backgrounds are not selectable with your mouse. Any material type image (such as brick, siding, metal, wood), or a material created in the brick or siding designer can be used as a background material. used for background. Right click your chosen material from the materials palette and choose "use as background". The image will now be on your screen as a background. Alternatively, send a material to the background by selecting that option in the "Thumbnail" Drop Down. "Background" sends the material behind all of the objects you will put on top.

You will want to make a background the size you need, in order to not print too much of a material and waste ink. Pre-set the "Project/Page Set up" located in the "File" menu when you first open the program. Find out more about the page set-up on page 2 of this manual. If you change your mind and want to remove a background, select "Layout" "Clear Background." or replace a background by choosing another background instead.

Importing Graphics:

To import a file select "Import Graphic.." from the "File" menu. You will then see a File Browser dialog where you can browse to the folder containing your picture. Upon selecting "Open" you will get a ↑+ Icon that you can place anywhere on your Design Screen. Imported Graphics can be resized using the Stretch tool that you use for adjusting Model Builder Program images. The images can be moved and resized on the design screen as other Model Builder images. Crop and Paint are not available on imported images. When you save your file Model Builder saves a link to the location of your image. You will need to leave the imported images in the folder that you saved them in order for them to come back into Model Builder when you open a saved file. You can import Images from files that you have on your computer to add custom detail to your structure. For example you can take pictures of the Windows and Doors on your own house, or pictures of a nearby railroad station you want to recreate. Before you bring a picture of your own into Model Builder, crop the photo in your computer’s photo editor software to get the piece or pieces you need. For example, instead of importing a whole building side, import the windows and doors already cropped out of the building. Save the building pieces as .jpg in a file and then bring them into Model Builder. You can import 3 file formats, bitmap (.bmp) jpeg (.jpg), and .gif Images with the file extension, .gif allow adding transparency. Transparency must be associated with the image prior to importing. Most images are rectangular, the gif allows you to add non-rectangular images to your Model Builder Projects. When importing a gif image it is recommended to resize gif images to a file size less than 700K. Line Drawings: If desired, you can import .wmf files that will behave like the current 6 Model Builder Building Plan Line Diagrams. .wmf files must be created in a vector format drawing program such as Corel Draw, Adobe Illustrator, or other vector programs. You can also create your line drawing in a CAD type program. Check you office supply store for inexpensive line drawing programs.

Do not use filled shapes when creating your line drawing. Be sure to select "No Fill" or "Transparent" in your Line Drawing Program. Imported Line drawings will be a fixed overlay on top of building materials. You can resize and also move your line drawing after importing to the Model Builder Design Screen. Options for working with Building Plans can be found in the "Plans" drop down screen. See "Help" "Building Plans" for more information. Note: Line drawings are not necessary to create buildings, as you will see in the project idea guide.

Re-scaling files: You can open any file in your current Model Scale. Select "Open" from the "File" drop-down menu. Browse to the .mb4 file you are interested in. If the file you have selected was created in another model scale, you will see an on-screen notice about re-scaling. If you are opening a Project that was saved in a smaller scale you may receive a warning that the re-scaling will place items beyond your page. If this happens, click cancel and add a 2nd page either horizontally or vertically to your project. Now you can still work with the re-scaled objects. If you want to re-scale a project that you are currently working on, Save the Project, then got to the Project Setup page, select your new scale and go to the "Design Screen" in the new scale. Reopen the file you just saved.

Material Designers:

Siding Designer click on the siding button to bring up the custom siding designer screen.

Print samples first because some monitor & printer combinations render colors differently.

  1. When you have printed a sample you are happy with, print a whole sheet, or move the siding to the Design Screen as a project background to add windows and doors to.
  2. Preview what your color choice, shading, & siding height look like
  3. Print samples first because some monitor & printer combinations render colors differently.
  4. When you have printed a sample you are happy with, print a whole sheet, or move the siding to the Design Screen as a project background to add windows and doors to.
  5. Preview what your color choice, shading, & siding height look like
  • Choose any of the available colors or CREATE YOUR OWN COLORS by double clicking a color chip, then clicking on "System color Palette" then "Define Custom Colors" move the slider on the right of the custom colors about 1/2 way up, then select your color.
  • Try out the different shading options to get different looks.
  • Change the width of the siding as needed for your building.
  • When you select Return to Design Screen, you have an option to use your chosen siding pattern as a background to add objects such as windows, doors and trim to.
  • Note: On some monitors, the siding does not "paint" all the way down the second page of a project. Check "Print Preview" in the "File" drop down to be sure. The siding will be fully visible in print preview.

    Brick Designer

    Click on the "Bricks" button to bring up the Brick Designer Screen. As you can see, the brick designer has quite a few options.

    1. Choose your brick size. Choose Cinder Block and choose dark gray for your chip colors, or try some of the other options to simulate other stones or brick.
    2. Select "Print a Sample" first because some monitor & printer combinations render colors differently.
    3. When you have printed a sample you are happy with, print a whole sheet, or use the bricks in the Design Screen as a background to add windows and doors. When you choose "Return to Design Screen" you will be prompted to use the brick as a background. Select "Yes".
    4. Preview your brick and mortar color, mortar thickness, and weathering choices. Print a sample of the brick with the weathering to see the true color.

    Printouts of brick colors are always a random pattern of the 4 color chips.

    1. This opens a window where you can see other brick and mortar color combinations. In the Style Window, click the circle at the left of a style and then click use selected style. Select "Screen Preview" to preview a style.
    2. These are the brick colors that will make up the finished brick. You can double click on any of the colors to bring up THE color editor. To change a color, double click the brick chip, select "System color Palette"—"Define Custom Colors"—Bring up the arrow on the Right of the color slider before choosing your brick colors (see siding designer section for more information). If you want a brick wall with only 2 colors of brick simply make all of the chips match the 2 colors. When you have a brick style you like, save it by replacing the current name with a name of your choice. Click "Save As" when you have a style you like and give your style a name.
    3. These are the texture and weather overlays. Try a few overlays and be SURE TO PRINT a 2 inch sample to see how the overlay (s) will give your brick texture. **(Note: The texture overlays are currently displaying as reddish, but the print output should be gray)
    4. Select from 5 unique brick laying patterns with this option.
    5. Adjust mortar thickness. There is a mortar color near the brick chip colors. Double click the mortar color chip to choose lighter or darker mortar .
    6. When you click "Return to the Design Screen", you have the option to use your brick design as a background in the Design Screen.

    Saving Your file: Save your file at any time using the Save option on the "File" drop-down menu. To open a saved file when you start Model Builder, click on the Open Saved Files and browse for the file name.

    Print Preview: In the Print Preview window, you can see the complete page with your Design and the Page Margins. If you have selected more than one page for your project, the Print Preview window provides options to Preview the other pages of your project, as well as an option for previewing the complete project. Use Print Preview to check the placement of items in your project only. The screen resolution in Print Preview does not reflect your project print quality!

    Printing Your File: When you are ready to print, you can print onto plain paper or Matte Photo Paper. We recommend Matte Photo paper and "best" printer settings for the best quality. Be sure to let your paper dry before handling. If there are a lot of images on the screen, the print job may take some time. With some printers, you may find you have to set up your printer (landscape, page size, print quality) before opening Model Builder. To set up your printer, access the printer from the control panel of your computer and set the print preferences. Remember to reset the printer preferences to their original settings when you are done printing your Model Builder files.

    Protecting Your Designs: Inkjet printer inks tend to fade after long exposure to UV light. UV light is present is sunlight and also in fluorescent lights. Protect your designs! We recommend KRYLON® or other Matte UV over sprays . Check your local hobby or art supply stores for over-sprays to protect inkjet photos.