Tutorial: Design your Own Miniature Landmark!

Tutorial: Design your Own Miniature Landmark!

Here’s a great design tutorial from our Featured Designer of the Month, Luis Daniel Sánchez García, describing how he makes his amazing miniatures of famous landmarks from around world!

How awesome would it be to have a 3D printed miniature of a Landmark of the city where you live? Of your country? Of a country you have visited? They would make fantastic souvenirs or even gifts!

Hello! I’m Luis Daniel, a designer from Querétaro, México. I am now living in Colorado, USA. I have travelled around the world, and I also love 3D printing  (I even have my own 3D printer back at home). Being a designer, these two passions found a perfect mix with MiniWorld: a collection of 3D printed landmarks from around the world!


At MiniWorld, we want to create the biggest collection of iconic buildings and monuments to be 3D printed. In this tutorial, we will tell how to model your own miniature, so you can contribute to the collection!*

Step 1 – Choose the landmark to model

We encourage you to choose a landmark of your hometown, or one that you truly feel belonging to. That is key to keep you engaged and excited through the process and the reward of seeing it printed will be priceless!

For this tutorial we are doing a landmark of my hometown: Querétaro, in México: The Aqueduct!




We will be using SolidWorks to model, but any parametric program is fine, even surface ones as long as you can follow up.

We also recommend going for a landmark that is an adequate challenge to your modeling skills and software.

Step 2 – Finding visual references

Once we have chosen what to model, google it! Save as many photographs or accurate drawings as you can find/need. Orthogonal views are recommended (such as front, side, top, with no perspective). Precision drawings or blueprints are awesome (if you can find them).  It also helps a lot to read its entry on Wikipedia to know more about it, or even better, go and visit the real one! Study it, touch it, become an expert. That will be VERY helpful when modeling, trust us, there is only that much you get from Google.

You see why we recommend a landmark that you live near and have a feeling of belonging?




Step 3 – Draw!

“But I suck at drawing…” It doesn’t matter if you can’t; you are not required to be an architect to have fun with this. Before using the software, the drawings you make will make your brain and hands get used to the landmark, you will identify its main characteristics, proportions, etc. Imagine your model is made up of very simple geometric bodies, like cubes. Draw those boxes; you will start modeling like that anyway. Get familiar with it in as many drawings as you need, try different views and details.


Step 4 – 3D modeling

Now that your studio (i.e. bedroom) is covered in study drawings, carry on your plan and start modeling. At MiniWorld, we use scales that allow general details but keep the model small and easy to print (think of FDM home printers). Find a real-life measure that helps you know the real size, one measure is enough (like height or square surface) but if you get more, it is better. For example, the aqueduct is 28.5 meters high on average, so we will use that to get the scale right and the pictures to get the proportions. Use math (yeah, we know but it is useful) to scale down your landmark. If your model roughly fits in an invisible box of 2 x 2 x 2 inches, you are fine (you can always scale up or down from your printer program if you want a different size)! Remember, start with general bodies, and get down to detail in the end, the smallest details won’t be printed and make the file very big, so don’t bother.







Step 5 – Preparing the file 

If you are happy and amazed at how your model looks, do the adequate modifications to make sure it can is printable: make it manifold (water-tight), reinforce thin walls or parts, think of support material (if it applies) and reduce mass where possible. You can use free programs like VisCAM View or others to evaluate and even fix errors (the figure shown does not correspond to the aqueduct model, it is another example).



Step 6 – Print and be awesome!

Print your .STL file or share it somewhere like in here in Pinshape. A piece of your hometown is now in the magical domains of the Internet, where the world can have a miniature of that, isn’t it cool?




Wait… there’s more!

Do you know someone who is visually impaired? Have you thought that they don’t know what most landmarks and buildings look like? They will love to touch the models you make and MiniWorld’s so they can travel the world without moving! If you do know someone, contact us at [email protected], we will love to help you make that happen!





Note: Steve Wozniak supported a similar initiative in Lithuania, see it here: http://3dprint.com/10670/wozniak-3d-print-blind/

Also, if you feel like taking it to the next level, you can use acrylics to paint it and make it look like you own a shrinking gun.







Finally, here is a picture of the whole process!


When you contribute to the collection:  

-You get authorship for your model and it will enter the freemium section of the library of MiniWorld. For more information see our profile at Pinshape or website: http://designation52.mx/miniworld/

-It is better if you can provide a landmark of your hometown or country, don’t go for the Eiffel tower if you don’t live near it – we want the truefeeling of belonging only a landmark you know really well can give. The big, famous ones are taken, but the one in your hometown is probably unknown, get your name out there!

-The more people add a model, the bigger the collection will be!

**We want to publicly thank Lotta Lundell from Finland, she is visually impaired and gave us the idea of using 3D printing to help them know what landmarks are like. We can talk ways of delivering the model your visually impaired friend wishes to know to his or her hands, if it is not in the MiniWorld Collectionyet, we’ll make it.


Pinshape is a 3D printing community and marketplace where makers from all over the world can find and share their next great 3D print and help each other get the best results from their 3D printers.