How to make realistic diorama

How to make realistic diorama DEFAULT

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide
There are some ways that dioramas can use “water” elements without any issue, creating a wonderful presentation for any wildlife or water ecosystem diorama.

In this tutorial, we give you 2 methods.

The first one is “professional” because you should use many types of materials and tools which cost very much.

The second method is for a school project (How To Make Fake Water With Elmer’s Glue, click here) – cheap and comfortable but not so realistic.

What Tools Are We Using To Make Realistic Fake Water For Diorama?

The following tutorials give you some ideas on ways that water has been used successfully in dioramas in the past. For any questions or further tips, leave a comment below or email the author!

The pics and info we used in the first part of the article are from Luke Towan’s excellent series of videos on YouTube. You can support Luke on Patreon.

Use “Realistic Water” to Build Your Diorama – Step-by-step Guide

There are some incredible products out there that look and act like real water. One of them is “Woodland Scenics Realistic Glue” This is a bottle of realistic water that isn’t actually your typical H2O. These bottles contain 16 fl oz of water used in model-building. It’s the perfect solution for any diorama that needs a water element, such as a pond, lake, river, or so forth.

However, you will need to prep the diorama and pour carefully to keep the rest of your diorama intact.

Step 1. Prep Your Diorama for Water

In order to start preparation, you should have already built out all the other parts of your world with styrofoam or wood soluble materials. You don’t want any cracks in the diorama floor or around the perimeter of the model.

The best way to create the right floor and perimeter is with stock cards, cardboard, or plastic sheeting. You also want to make sure that any cracks or holes are filled in with glue first.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

If you are using styrofoam or just want to make sure that it is going to be spill-proof and leak-proof, you can follow these steps before adding water to your diorama:

  • Add a thin coat of plaster to all areas that the water will come in contact with
  • Use a primer to protect your diorama
  • Paint all the other areas of your diorama first
  • Add realistic water once paint has dried

Prepping your diorama is the most important step. Any cracks or porous surfaces that aren’t plastered will likely cause spillage. Also I recommend to use Hot Knife to make different surfaces of your future model.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

Step 2. Add a Border to Wall in Water

Realistic water will continue to spread into every porous area, so you’ll need to add a border if you plan on having water that extends to the edges of your diorama. If you have a small pool in the center, you also want to make sure that it’s completely walled in and protected from leaking. Thick stock cards are a great way to great this border around the edges of your diorama.

Glue guns are also helpful to fill in any cracks and add these borders so that you have a sturdy surface that won’t leak.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

Step 3. Pour in Realistic Water on Level Surface

You should place your primed and prepped diorama on a level surface before getting the realistic water ready. You can pour straight from the bottle, or you can use a funnel if you want to be more precise and careful. Unlike water, realistic water is a bit thicker and stickier, so you want to be careful about not getting the water onto anything else in your diorama.

Once you have finished pouring, allow the water to rest and dry. You can use a fan on low setting if you want to speed up the process. However, if you want to add in small rocks, fish, plants, and other miniature figures to the water, you should do so before it dries.

The water will look crystal clear, so it’s best if you paint the bottom with any type of rocky bottom or coral look that you want your model to have.

Once the first layer has dried, you can pour on another layer as needed. This is helpful if you want to show multiple types of ecosystems in your water diorama, from bottom floor fish all the way up to the surface.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

Step 4. Add Realistic Waves and Other Surface Effects

You can use other products to modify the look of your water, making it look more like ocean waves or lake ripples. The mediums typically used for this include gloss gels and glazes. You can find them alongside acrylic paints in any arts and crafts store.

We recommend to use Woodland Scenics-Water Effects.

Gels and glazes are painted on using paint brushes just like you did with other paints in your diorama. However, these paints create a 3-dimensional shape that holds well to any structure. Liquitex is the top brand to use for these mediums as it holds well and dries consistently.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

The gloss gels and glazes are transparent and will also adapt to the color of your realistic water. Once dried, you can add paint to create waterfalls and lagoons. It all depends on how you want to create these water effects.

Woodland Scenics also makes another product called “Woodland Scenics-Water Effects” that can also help you build realistic lake ripples, waterfalls, rapids, and other waves. It takes a bit longer to dry, but when it does, it will dry clear.

To create these effects, you simply use a paintbrush to tease and swirl the gel around, lifting up to get waves or letting it drip down off your diorama to create a waterfall. You can even use the gel to create concentric circles, creating small ripples, or even a dramatic finish to your waterfall area.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

How to Make Fake Water with Glue – Using Blue Elmers Glue for Water in Dioramas

If realistic water is too much or you want something simpler for a smaller diorama, then you can also use blue glue. Elmers has the perfect brand called Liquid Gel School Glue in light blue. Besides, you’ll probably want to get clear school glue as well.

The most important thing to remember when using glue is that you need a border so that the gel doesn’t leak all over the place. You can use wood, stock cards, or cardboard to create borders around your diorama.

What Tools Do You Need To Make Fake Water For School Project?

Also, you want to paint your diorama with the base colors before you begin adding the glue. For example, wherever you want water to appear, you should color in acrylic blue paint. If you want coral bottoms of rocks, then you should use the appropriate acrylics to create those scenes. Once you start pouring in the glue, you won’t have a chance to make your scenes underwater any more colorful.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

Step 1. Block Out Your Water Areas

Let’s say you are creating a diorama with two levels so that you have a waterfall going into a stream. At the top of the diorama, you’ll have to create a little pool or pond where the water starts, then draw out how the water will flow down into the bottom of the diorama, blocking out all areas where water will go with your pencil.

Once you have designed the water areas, you should paint in any effects and colors before you add the glue.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

Step 2. Add the Glue

You can keep the top on the glue and squeeze it into the blocked out areas carefully, or you can pour it in. Either way, you’ll want to keep a brush or popsicle stick nearby to guide the glue into areas, creating any wave shapes by pulling up on the glue until it forms the right ripples and shapes.

Before the glue dries, you should add any other figures, plants, rocks, stones, or other diorama elements. The glue typically starts to dry as soon as it meets the air, so you don’t want to wait too long to start adding in your different water creatures.

Once finished, let the glue dry, being careful to watch for any leaks.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

Step 3. Add More Layers

Once the glue has dried, you can add on more paint or add a second layer of glue. This is beneficial if you are going from deep sea ecosystems to the surface, and you want to showcase different creatures or sediments in the diorama.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

Videos on Water in Dioramas

Here are some specific videos you can use to create water in your diorama that showcase expert ways to build water effects using these tools, as well as some other techniques that may be more advanced.

Creating Waterfall Effects

Perhaps you want to create a multi-layered model diorama with a waterfall that drops down from a grotto. Creating these effects is actually easy with the right tools and liquids.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Wax paper
  • Caulking gun
  • Crystal clear caulk

You’ll use the caulking gun to create streams down from the second level to the bottom. You should add realistic water or the Elmers glue before you create the waterfall.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide


What can you make a diorama out of?

You can use pictures, paint, or modeling clay to create a realistic ground or floor for the diorama.

Create your background first.
  • Coloring on the cardboard with markers will just make everything look dark.
  • For an indoor scene, glue a magazine cutout of a living room to the back of the box to make it look like a house.

Click to see full answer.

Keeping this in consideration, what materials do you need to make a diorama?

Making a Diorama - Chapter 1: Materials

  1. needle nose pliers/small hand cutters.
  2. scissors/masking tape.
  3. hob-e-tac glue or strong, fast setting glue.
  4. wood glue or elmers glue.
  5. bottle with holes in top for shaking out materials (this has the green material in it)
  6. scenic cement.
  7. empty all purpose spray bottle (blue)

Secondly, how do you make fake water for a diorama? How to Make Fake Water with Glue – Using Blue Elmers Glue for Water in Dioramas. If realistic water is too much or you want something simpler for a smaller diorama, then you can also use blue glue. Elmers has the perfect brand called Liquid Gel School Glue in light blue.

Also to know is, what is a diorama project shoebox?

Create a shoebox diorama of an important scene from your book. Use a shoebox set on its side to create your scene. You can place the lid under the box to create more space for your scene. Use small inexpensive objects such as toys, construction paper, wire, clay, and so forth to create your scene.

How do you make a diorama tree?

By following these instructions, you will be able to create realistic and beautiful trees for your diorama:

  1. Cut the Wire.
  2. Bundle the Wires Together.
  3. Split, Twist and Repeat.
  4. Make Loops to Create New Branches.
  5. Twist Again to Create the Roots.
  6. Coat the Tree.
  7. Create Smaller Branches With Static Grass(optional)
  8. Undercoat the Tree.
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How to Make Realistic Water in a Diorama

September 26, 2021 0

This guide explains how to create a range of water features for a diorama, such as building a great-looking fountain. I’m trying to cover the ocean, the waves, the ripples, the little cove bath, the canal, and the waterfall. I’m planning to present to you how to render these all stuff, and I’m planning to show you how to do foundation coating underneath the water as well.

how to make realistic water in a diorama-1

I am ready to use practical Woodland scenery water since it is straightforward, clutter-free, and clear of odor. For this, there is no blending. That’s the result of the water which I use to create the ponds and lake fresh water. It is indeed a pretty incredible thing and relatively simple to be using. You are already bringing it in and making it dry.No appropriate combining. Still, all you could do is pour it up to 1/4 inch thickness. Let it cool, then add another level over it. With such a fan, you can step up the processing. But it does require a little time to use this material. You could only pipe it into layers that are 1.4 inches deep, so you need to let it dry and add another layer before reaching the appropriate width.

You would have a foam foundation, either crafted of dry flower wreath foam (purchased in frames at flower shops and design shops) or higher-density insulation board or insulation material from the DIY local grocery store, to create a mini lake. As a foundation, the foam has been used.To cement the foam layer and a variety of enamel paint to stain the pool and floor base, you may also require gesso or a strong acrylic painting medium. And eventually, to beautify the lake, you will need rocks and sand or fine rubble and pieces of decorative vegetation or even other objects.

Preparation of the diorama

The Practical Water is fluid, so you’ll need to inspect your diorama and plug some adhesive form into any gaps or openings. For this, a simple white adhesive or glue gun fits excellent. So if the flood, such as this one, is going up to the edges of the diorama, then you’ll need to create some boundary that will safely protect the flood until it dries.

Making Realistic Water in a Diorama

You could see the blue card’s inventory edge, which I attached all of the time across. If you have to, do something like this about diorama? Since it is quick, the adhesive gun functions well, though. You must closely examine it after it has dried and covered up all sides with wax or glue so that the natural water won’t spill out. Be sure you are on a solid surface of the diorama and drop in the water.

To make it dry, choose a fan. During that level, if you like, you can inject nearby particles into the water. Sandstones, animals, little papers, even miniature models. You will be able to pour another sheet until it has dried. And another one, as required.You will be able to drop another surface until it has dried. And then another one, as required. If you do get to the desired height, we will continue to incorporate the numerous specific impacts of floods. Ripple creating, high tides as well as other consequences.


These goods are referred to as glazing formats, or gloss gels occasionally. Usually, acrylic designers use them to attach the structure to their color. This material could be drawn on, and it will carry an excellent 3d objects form. And you will use it as droplets and tides and emblems and all sorts of shapes like waterfalls, and you will be all prepared until it stiffens.

how to make realistic water in a diorama-2

Just ensure you have a refined form that dries. Yeah, or straight. There are three that I’m utilizing here. Liquitex manufactures both of them. Glaze potent gel, glazing intermediate, and glossy gel medium are positioned from top to bottom and left. The formats provide you a certain level of thickness, and you’ll go for anything like the strong gel if you’d like to make up the appearance of the waves and water effects; it is heavier.The important stuff is very calm, and you could have some patterns, tides, emblems, and much more out of it that appear fantastic. So it’s going to take some time to dry thoroughly. The outside layer of the outlines will dry quickly sufficient that you’ll be able to tackle it that day, but it will require a couple of days to strengthen that explain to clear.

In a smaller disposable aluminum baking dish, begin by setting up the masses of your mini lake. You could either split up the panel whenever it is done, or you can offer a simple-form template out of aluminum foil if you’d like a specific approach.If you are using aluminum foil to keep the water from entering, you would want to make the “walls” of your structure a minimum of 1 inch thick.Water also resembles the shape of tiny transparent particles that should be cooled and placed onto a surface that is heat resistant. Heat them on moderate flame over a stove burner if you are using shells. Choose a fresh, plastic jar, and (while it can be recycled to dissolve further water) the bowl could not be washed after each use.When you are using Water beads, make sure that all the materials that interacted with E-Z Water endure warm water. When you ensure that the drop of molten E-Z water uniformly fills the whole molded vessel and that the model jar is sitting on a solid surface, the overall pour would have a flat finish of still liquid.

There are several ways to produce them if you’d like to get ripples. By deliberately melting the layer with a burning candle (a blow dryer won’t get hot sufficiently), you will wave ripple effects around the water waters’ ground.

Ripple effects around the water

And use a craft knife, you could even generate ripples. Break a line where you’d like effect and use a heat gun to dissolve the line softly. If the last pouring of molten E-Z water has been done, enable the mold to settle until it has been completely hardened. Your completed casting can slide out of the mold effortlessly.You must pay much attention to how intense you would like it to look while designing the lake. The lake can look reasonably shallow if you are using soft sand on the floor.

You could use acrylic afterward to build the impression of greater depths if you don’t place some dust on the bottom of the form. When you wish to get profound instead of superficial water results, do not use decorative components as a basis for the casting of water. This move refers to whether you spill, add, or coat it, to every form of Model Lake or pool.Cautiously draw a strip of foam across the middle, indicating that you’ll cut out a break. Please ensure the foam surfaces are thick sufficient to cut the foundation out. It is also quicker to scratch out multiple layers if you have small bits of foam, so stick the final position back once you cut out the centers to keep the mini-lake.Once mounted, E-Z Water is relatively fragile, so you can split the shaped water apart and then create uneven parts for tiny lakes or puddles if you want to choose. Monitor fitting the template into the void after you have drilled out the foam foundation so that it can retain the preferred mold form.

Your water portion needs to match just below or just over your ‘land’ floor. To build various elevations for trees and shrubs or a more realistic impact, add foam parts to the foam foundation as you prefer, design them, and cut them out because you develop the base.

You May Read Also –

Toilet paper + Glue = Realistic Ocean water

Disclaimer – This article is reproduced here from IPMS Stockholm without permission – I know this is a really bad thing to do, but SO many good articles have disappeared from the internet over the years, and I couldn’t stand to lose this one, so I have saved a back up copy of it here.

PLEASE Visit IPMS Stockholms original article by Omami HERE.

tech_seawater_01Replicating elements of nature in miniature is one of the more tricky aspects of modelling, requiring not only the “engineering” knowledge of a subject but also a bit of artistic sense.

For ship model builders such as myself, water base can really make or break a good model. In this article I would like to show you how to produce a realistic sea base for ship model, with rough water surface, surf and wake. I have perfected these techniques during my own project of modelling the IJN Task Force, Carrier Division 1. The Task Force consists of  the aircraft carriers Kaga and Akagi steaming side-by-side on a single base.

Before we begin, let’s consider the qualities of our subject.

Despite of what we all know about water, deep water basins seldom look transparent, especially when seen from a distance. Rather than that, water has colour and forms a glossy, highly reflective surface. These qualities of water are especially appropriate to replicate in scale, particularly when dealing with ship models in smaller scales such as 1/700.

Having performed this most basic analysis, let’s move to a step-by-step description of how to produce a convincing sea base.

Step 1: Basics

First you will need to establish the composition and layout of your base. Most of the times this is simple: place the model on the sheet of paper of the same size as the intended base, and outline its hull along the waterline. If you have any other elements such as peers, shoreline etc, trace them on paper, too.

tech_seawater_base03tech_seawater_base04Now comes the fun part: making the sea surface. A piece of kitchen aluminium foil is wrinkled thoroughly, and then stretched on a flat surface. Then, a wooden frame the size of the base is placed on top of it. The frame and the foil together form a mould for the sea surface.


For moulding, I use fine-grade plaster of Paris. It is blended with water as per instructions and poured into the frame. As plaster is quite brittle, I usually reinforce the mould by adding a cotton gauze on top of the poured liquid. Adding an additional layer of plaster over it can help to blended the gauze invisibly into the moulding.

It takes about 30 minutes for the plaster to harden so that it can be removed from the frame.  However, it is necessary to wait additional 3 days before it is completely cured. Flipping the mould to its “right” side, you will see the effect that the wrinkled foil had on the surface. It will replicate the multitude of short irregular waves caused by wind blowing over sea surface.


Step 2: Bow wave et al.

Now it is time to replicate the prominent waves caused by the ship’s movement in the water: the bow wave, wave pattern along the hull and the wake. These waves can be sculpted from epoxy putty.

The highest white-crested wave will surround the bow, usually with overhang on its top part. To maintain strength, I first model the “body” part of the wave, adding the top 1/3rd only after it has hardened. The shape of the wave is first  formed with fingers, then the surface is sculpted using a spatula, see photos below.

tech_seawater_wave03tech_seawater_wave04The bow wave should be spreading into the fan shape towards the rear. The sides of the hull will also induce smaller waves along its length. It is helpful to draw the wave pattern on the plaster base with a pencil so that you ensure maintaining the uniform (but not symmetrical) look of the waves on both sides of the hull.

These waves can be modelled similarly to the bow wave, using the spatula to create crests and patches of foam. Be careful to work on a small area at a time – once the epoxy putty hardens, it becomes almost impossible to work with.

tech_seawater_wave05tech_seawater_wave06The following photo shows the completed waterline of Kaga, with in-progress waterline of Akagi in the background.


Step 3: The wake

The wake of the fast-going ship is different from other waves on our base in that it its area will be almost completely covered with white foam. Switching to the ordinary thinner-based modelling putty, I apply a generous  coat of it to the area behind the stern, and then mould the wake by poking it with toothpicks. Chances are that the surface structure obtained but this method is too rough, but it is easy to “soften” the effect by brushing thinner over it.

tech_seawater_wave09tech_seawater_wave10To complete the waves, a coat of Gunze Mr. Surfacer 500 liquid putty is applied in selected areas to smooth out the edges between the epoxy putty and plaster.

tech_seawater_wave12tech_seawater_wave13Step 4. Painting

First I coat the entire base with white primer. It allows me to discover any remaining joint marks, fingerprints and other blemishes. If found, these are treated with liquid putty. The completed base prior to painting looks like this:

tech_seawater_wave16Painting is a tricky problem. Replicating the softness of water in hard material is difficult, and it is all won or lost in the painting phase. Therefore I used to consider my options carefully and test all the steps before applying them “full-scale”. For the first attempt, it may be a good idea to produce a scrap plaster base alongside your main project to practice your painting  techniques safely.

I use Loquitex acrylic soft type artists’ colours. Loquitex acrylics are very suitable for the purpose because they retain a rich “moistened” look when dry. The colours I used for the Kaga/Akagi base were Titanium White, Phthalocyanine Blue and Emerald Green.

tech_seawater_colorsAnother principal decision was the choice of a brush rather than airbrush. Brush painting is able to produce colour depth which is simply unobtainable by airbrush application – a fact well known to figure builders.

For the base colour of the Carrier Division base I used a mixture of Phthalocyanine Blue and Emerald Green. The colours were applied by brush and mixed directly on the surface of the base to create uneven rather than uniform colour.

tech_seawater_nami01tech_seawater_nami02After covering the entire base, I returned to selected spots with more contrasting tones to add depth. First I went through trough (lowest) spots with the darker tone of blue. Then the  wave crests were brushed with progressively brighter shades, creating gentle gradation of colour from dark to light.

Loquitex acrylics dry to a matt finish, which is inappropriate for the glossy sea surface. Therefore the entire base was spray-painted with gloss clear varnish at this point.

Step 5. Finishing

At this point your sea should already look quite convincing . But bear with me, it can be made so much better by adding the final step – painting of the wave crests. It does just as much to enliven the sea surface as “weathering” does to models in general.

The idea is to suggest patches of white foam at the wave crests, and this is best done with dry-brushing. You should start with a mixture of your base colour and white, and progressively add more white in the consecutive dry-brushing passes. I have used four different shades for my base shown here. The result after the 4th shade of blue is shown on the second photo below.

tech_seawater_nami05tech_seawater_nami06The last touch is the application  of pure Titanium White on the brim of each wave. You should take care to vary the quantity of white depending on the size of each wave – the largest ones with pronounced brims should get more foam than the smaller waves. The effect is shown on the right photograph.

The massive amounts of white foam in the wake area should be emphasized even more. My method is to coat the wake area with diluted white glue and then sprinkle on the white snow powder used for diorama models.

Another few coats of clear gloss varnish and the base is finished. The complete item is shown below, with pre-drilled holes for screws attaching the models. I hope that you will agree that the result is a quite realistic rendition of an open sea swept by keen wind!





Scale Model Tutorialsaccurate, base, diorama, how, liner, looking, make, model, ocean, real, realistic, sea, ship, to, waterSours:

To make realistic diorama how

Make Your Own Realistic Railway Station Diorama

If the video player is not working, you can click on this alternative video link.

Looking for a great project to do in your spare time? How about a realistic-looking train station?

Follow this in-depth guide to make one for yourself. 

But first, you will need some things before you get stuck in. 

Tools and equipment needed

Step 1: Plan your diorama

The first step is to plan your diorama. You can either use a real train station or make one up from your imagination.

For this example, the creator used a small section of the Dnepropetrovsk South station on the Dnepropetrovsk-Yuzhny railway. The diorama is 13-inch (330 mm) in diameter. 

Once designed, you can either hand-cut or use a fancy laser cutter to prepare the diorama base. Make the main base using something like balsa wood, and cut out any other features, like the platform, in MDF.

Alternatively, you could make using strips of cardboard. MDF, however, is far more robust.

With the main diorama pieces ready, begin to glue them into place on the base. The dimensions will vary depending on your design. 

Continue building up the base until completed. 

Step 2: Fill any gaps using filler

With the main features of the diorama complete, you can seal any edges using things like filler, or similar material. You can also fill any gaps between pieces on the diorama too. 

Once dry, sand down as needed — especially around the rim of the diorama base. 

Step 3: Add the main platform details

Next, take your plastic card and cut out the pieces needed to make other features like, in this case, the main platform canopy, and fascia slabs to the platform edge. Remove any barbs from the cut edges using your modeling knife and files. 

Glue into place as needed.

You can also add T-shaped profiling along the top edges of the slabs if needed. Alternatively, you could round off the edges.

For added realism, you can texture the concrete slabs using adhesive, like PVA. Apply evenly to their surface, and then dab with a sponge to give a mottled appearance once the glue dries. 

Add in other features like stairs, etc, where required.

Step 4: Begin to paint the concrete and add imitation asphalt

With the main construction of the base complete, we can begin to paint the platform. Either hand paint, or use an airbrush. Take care not to obscure the mottled effect you created earlier.

Paint the edges and joints in black. Then, paint over again in white to give a dark grey effect.

To make the asphalt, take a mixture of 50% fine sand and 50% powdered gypsum. Mix together and add some black powdered pigment to the mix. Alternatively, you could use filler and paint grey later. 

Add some water, and mix into a paste and add some PVA glue to bind everything together. Then begin to spread over the surface of the platforms. 

Try to get this part of the work done in a quick manner as this mixture tends to cure pretty quickly. Spread evenly and level off using a wide spatula. 

While curing, you can also add in some cracks or weathering damage to the asphalt for added realism. To do this, scratch the surface using a sharp tool. 

Once fully dry, you can make the asphalt darker by painting the entire surface with thinned down black paint. 

Step 5: Add the tracks and ballast

With the main platform bases effectively completed, you can now begin to add the tracks. This diorama is 1:87 scale and PIKO tracks have been chosen.

Lay the tracks and trim off any excess (for example around the base), as needed. Before laying them permanently, we will need to paint them a little first.

Paint any metal parts on the sleepers black. You could also paint the sleepers brown at this point too. 

With that complete, glue the tracks into place using superglue. Now to create the track embankments.

Tape around the edge of the model base to form a clear boundary and then add model railway track ballast to the rails. Use a paintbrush to move the ballast evenly between and around the sleepers. 

Before fixing the ballast into place, paint the track rails in black and then add burnt amber, or equivalent, pigment to them to give them a weathered and slightly rusty effect. 

Once dry, add them back to the track sleepers. 

To fix the ballast, make a mixture of water and PVA glue. Spray the surface with water, and then spread water/PVA mix over the surface of the ballast and let it run between the ballast pieces.

For best results, use a pipette to squirt the mixture where needed.

While curing, you can add some weathering effects like some flock, etc. Sprinkle over the surface of the ballast, as necessary. 

When the PVA/water cures, these added textures will also be fixed into place. 

Leave to cure for about 10 hours, and then, if there are any, tilt the model to knock off any loose bits of the ballast. Then remove any edging tape you put into place. 

Step 6: Make the platform canopy and age it

Next, mark out, cut, and assemble the columns and supporting arms of the platform canopy. You can use either plastic card, as before, or cardboard. Alternatively, use other suitable materials (like balsa wood) you may have to hand. 

Fill any gaps as before, if needed, and sand down. 

Then glue into place on the platform. Ensure they are perfectly vertical. Once in place, add strips of I-beam plastic for the canopy roof rafters. 

For the main canopy covering, cut strips of plastic card (or thin cardboard/balsa wood), and glue them into place. 

Once dry, begin to paint the platform canopy as needed. In this case, the main columns are a sandy color, with a black strip at the base. Again do it by hand using an airbrush.

The roof of this platform will be covered in roofing felt. You can use strips of fine sandpaper to simulate this.

Cut strips of it and glue them into place. Once complete, trim off any excess, as needed. Add some edging strips of plastic for added realism too. 

With that complete, you can also make up some mock-bitumen by using liquid rubber, water, and a black dye. Mix together and use a syringe to apply between the joints of the sandpaper. 

Alternatively, you could just use black paint, or mix black paint with PVA. 

Spread the mix out a little bit beyond the seams of the roofing felt. Next, take some black oil paint, thin it down, and paint over the entire surface of the roofing felt. 

Next, take some brown oil paint, thin down at around 80:20 with thinner, and apply to the underside of the roof. Do the same for all elements of the canopy, including roof struts and columns.

This will give these areas a realistic weathered look from being exposed to rain for many years. Add some streaking with brown paint too if desired. 

Roughly apply, and then spread out using a wide brush.

Give the edges of the roof the same treatment too to match. 

Step 7: Make and add the station name plaque

With that complete, the next stage is to create and add the station's name plaque. You can either sketch them out by hand and cut them from plastic card or use your laser cutter to make cut them from balsa wood or MDF.

Whichever you choose to do, take the letters and stick them to two thin plastic rails. 

Once dry, paint the entire thing black by hand or using an airbrush. When the paint is dry, hand paint the letters in a steel color (or whatever color you want). 

Stick the entire name plaque assembly to the canopy roof. 

Step 8: Add other details to the platform

Depending on the fidelity of the model, you can also add in some other details, like yellow edge plates and markings to the platform edge. To do this, take some angled plastic strips, and paint them as needed.

Then glue them to the platform edges. You can also add more "concrete slabs" to create crossings on the tracks too. 

For any markings, tape off the design needed, and airbrush. Alternatively, you could try hand painting them. 

Add weathering to any new "clean" elements at this stage too. Copy a similar method as you did for the canopy using oil paints. 

Add some weathering and staining to the tracks too. For best results, you should look at some example images of train tracks in the "wild" and try to replicate them. 

Remember train tracks will build up a lot of soot, oil stains, etc. Use thinned oils, or other paints, to simulate. Blend in and spread out as needed so it looks as realistic as possible. 

Add some mold and other effects using a thinned down green paint. Do this to the lower sections of any vertical surfaces — like where the platform meets the track ballast.

Add to other areas like any steps, or the base of columns, etc. You can also add some textured weathering powders to things like the track rails too. 

This will give them an aged and realistic look. 

Let the rust powders overflow a little onto the ballast to simulate rust flecks and debris. You can also add some rubble and dust powders to the platform surfaces too. 

With that, your train station diorama is effectively complete. You can add model passengers, seating, and other details like handrails too if desired.

Now all you need is a train to add to your wonderful diorama. Be sure to place it somewhere prominent to show off your hard work.

You'll also be looking for a new project no doubt. How about a replica DeLorean from "Back to the Future"? 

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Making an *EASY* incredibly Realistic Miniature Diorama!!

The methods and materials used to replicate water in modeling are as diverse as the shapes and forms nature uses to display water. I almost exclusively use clear casting or epoxy resins, preferably products sold by Faller (A:B-1:1) or SMOOTH-ON (Chrystal Clear, A:B-1:1). Also, I generally use resins with a binder-to-hardener mixing ratio of 1:1, because these are easiest to work with. Important: be shure you use UV resistant materials, to avoid unwanted surprises, because some of the resins tend to turn muddy after a while. Tom y opinion most of the other commercially available materials are less suitable because they either do not get hard , they soften again with time, or they become brittle. Water glass or plastic films will not let you achieve the desired optical effects. Occasionally, I have seen water surfaces made of plaster of Paris covered with acrylic paints, but these are not nearly as realistic as epoxies. Whatever the type of resin you are using, there are some general rules that apply to all of them: The area to be poured has to be dry and, most importantly, "water" tight. After mixing, leave the resin to rest for some time to allow air and other gases to escape. You may even want to use a vacuum device for degassing. Then slowly pour the resin into your model. Considerable heat develops as the hardener comes into contact with the epoxy. Therefore, be sure to never add layers that are deeper than 6 mm. Do not add an additional layer until the previous one has cured completely. If you do, tension cracks may develop, because each layer will have a different drying time. The air and gas bubbles that form as the resin cures can be removed by poking with a needle. Unless you disturb the resin to build the effect of a wavy surface, all types of resins will ultimately cure into level surfaces. With one small but notable exception: When recreating a river, for example, you will notice a small elevation along the edges, because the resin creeps up along the bank, leaving an unrealistically glossy area. To achieve a level transition between the water surface and the edge of a pond, the bank of a river, or a sandy beach, you will have to rework these areas. To do so, cover the water surface with masking (e.g., Revell Colour Stop) along the bank, leaving a clearance of about 2 mm between the bank and the masking. Then, touch up the area between the bank and the masking with the materials you used to build the shore, bank, or beach. Finally, carefully remove the masking before the material is completely dry.


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Making Diorama Groundwork

Convincing groundwork is a necessary ingredient of any diorama. This article is a small guide to the for those who are new to the diorama making. I will concentrate on the techniques, not the artistics.

Like many others, I have learnt a lot from Shepherd Paine's book How to Build Dioramas and I would recommend anyone getting into dioramas to read it. The techniques that I use are a mixture of Shepherd Paine's, a lot of other people and my own experiences. 

The described methods are applicable to all scales, but of course you will generally need finer grade of groundwork materials for the smaller ones.

What you will need

Collecting following materials and tools should ensure that you get a flying start into the art of diorama building:

  • Piece of wood or other material for the base
  • Felt cloth (optional)
  • White glue / PVA. 
  • Celluclay (a mixture of finely shredded paper an dry glue that you mix with water and get a papier mach�). 
  • Water (good to keep handy in a jug or cup unless you're working by the sink). 
  • 'Architect paper' - sheets of styrofoam sandwiched between cardboard paper. 
  • Sand and gravel of different sizes. 
  • Static grass. 
  • Flock. 
  • Sharp hobby knife. 
  • Old paintbrushes. 
  • Cups or old plastic food containers for mixing stuff in. 

Step one - The base 

The first step is to prepare the base plate. The base plate may be a piece of wood or glass.  Anything that is flat,  won't bend easily and has nice-looking edges will do, the rest is pretty much up to your taste. Make sure he edges are looking fine and pleasing - it's the edges that will remain seen when you're ready. Wooden bases of various shapes and sizes are available from craft stores. In addition, sections of wood can be purchased from a lumber store, with the edges routed into a variety of different patterns. Trophy boards and picture frames make easy ready-made bases.

The size of the base should be carefully matched to your planned setting. A common novice error is  starting with a base that is too large for the concept and then trying to add things to it to make it look "busy" after your original scene is complete.

Be aware that wooden bases sometimes can become warped after the diorama has been finished. The reason for this is that if you use water during construction of your diorama scene, the moisture can get into the wood causing it to expand. Warpage is bad for many reasons, but not least because it may cause your groundwork to crack.

So, when using wooden materials such as plywood, marine-grade plywood, masonite tiles or a particle board, it is best to thoroughly seal the surface prior to construction. This is done by painting it with a few coats of clear, waterproof varnish.  The key is to seal all sides, both the top and bottom of the base.

You may want to glue some sort of matte board down onto the top of your base, to form a foundation that your scene will be built upon. This accomplishes two things. The first is that it gives you a better looking diorama, since your scene won't be built directly upon a bare piece of wood.

If you want to make sure that your diorama won't scratch the underlying surface on which it will be standing, glue pieces of felt cloth in the four corners of the bottom side of the plate. I have  never bothered with this but I have glass shelves in my display cabinet (I can recommend the well-known IKEA's Billy bookshelf with glass door, which is cheap and easy to assemble).

Step two - Building the basic shape 

The next step is to build up the topography of the diorama. This requires some planning. The most fundamental thing to do when working on a diorama is to follow a theme or idea. Even if you think you have got the concept, try to develop it as much as possible, working out the details of the scene. 

Then, let your idea to "drive your diorama" and not vice versa. For example, if you decided on a small, compact scene, stick with a compact but characteristic piece of terrain. 

It's good to make a sketch of what you intend to do (it usually changes a bit a you go, but this way you've something to follow). Plan the shape and layout of the ground. Looking into nature should give you plenty of ideas for making your setting look natural.

Now, by using layers of architect paper you can build up the terrain and make soft or steep slopes and since it's an easy material to shape you can form it most any way you like. I usually cut the edges off with a sharp hobby knife.


Now you build up the different layers using the architect paper, starting with the bottom sheet that you glue down with white glue. Let the glue dry a bit before putting on the next layer to keep them from sliding apart. 

When you've built up the terrain shapes they way you want you give the whole base, wood and architect paper, one or two layers with varnish to seal it from moisture. I personally prefer an acrylic, water based varnish that dries very fast and you can obtain it cheaply at most paint and hardware stores.

If your scene will have a larger height to it, it may be better to use a piece of Styrofoam that has been cut to size and shape to form larger blocks of the foundation.

Step 3 - Forming the terrain 

After the varnish is tohroughly dry  it is time to give the base a more natural shape. 

For this I use Celluclay, but there are many other putties that are suitable for the purpose. I know about people using plaster of paris,  spackling compound, wood putty, water putty and so on. It would seem that you can use any ordinary household putty that you are comfortable with.

Mix the Celluclay with water and a glob of white glue and kneed it until you have a clay like lump. If it is too wet you will have problems with the drying, the edges tend to curl up an it might even start to mold if the drying takes to long. 

Spread the Celluclay by applying a small amount at a time, and working it out flat. I usually start by spreading all of the Celluclay over the base with out caring about the look of it, and the flatten it more with a wet teaspoon. 

If you want your base to show tread marks or wheel marks make them at this stage. While the groundwork it's still a bit soft, get a couple of wheels from the spares box, fix them to either end of a toothpick or something similar about the width of the subjects axles. Roll them over the surface of the soft groundwork creating ruts or furrows, don't be too tidy, roll them back and forwards a few times, checking that the vehicle will sit in the ruts.

Also, prepare the place for each of your vehicle models by firmly pressing them down into the Celluclay. This helps give an impression of weight to the model rather than it being placed on the surface of the diorama, it also helps when you come to fix the vehicle in place by giving a positive location for it.

Step 4 - Adding sand and gravel 

Before the Celluclay has dried (it takes about 24 hours, but I do this straight after applying the Celluclay) you apply sand and gravel. I apply it where there wont be any grass or vegetation. Fine sand for the road and coarser gravel for steep banks where the grass wont grow. Try to press the sand and gravel a little into the Celluclay. Now let everything dry. The next day I go over and secure the sand and gravel using a paintbrush and diluted white glue. Now let it dry for two days.

Step 5 - Painting the terrain 

Now I wait for the CelluClay to dry completely. 

Since Celluclay sucks up a lot of paint I usually give it a quick cote of varnish to seal it. After this has dried it's time to paint the base in the shades of dirt and sand you want. The base coats need only to be "generic" earth colors like brown, walnut, or sand. 

If you have any tread marks or wheels marks you may want to give these a darker tone.

Step 6 - Applying vegetation and the finishing touches 

For the vegetation and finer ground details, there's a ton of stuff that exists. For example, Woodland Scenics produces a lot of materials that can be used, and these can be found in a well-stocked model railroad shop. In general, though, it is best to locate and use regular organic items. They will look better, since they are more realistic.

Some of the items that Woodland Scenics makes are static grass, dirt, sand, rocks bushes, and trees. They also produce a strong liquid glue that can be sprayed onto a scene, gluing everything in place.

After the paint has dried it is time for the vegetation (unless you're making a desert diorama, but even then some brown shrubs can be used). 

Static grass is nice, but in my favourite scale of 1/72 it will looks more like a well tended lawn . Instead I use a flock from Games Workshop that I mix with a little static grass white glue and water until I get a wet-mud consistency. Add also a few drops of sand or buff color to take away the gloss of the static grass. This I apply using a teaspoon and then a paintbrush (use an old one) for spreading into irregular patches and lumps of grass. If you're planning to put vehicles and figures on the grass covered areas this is a good time to put them in place. 

After the grass has dried I drybrush the sand and gravel in a lighter tone to enhance them and give them a dusty look.

Step 7

Enjoy looking at your diorama... and start planning for the next one!



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