Model diorama or how to create a real work of art

Model diorama or how to create a real work of art
It takes approx. 4 minutes to read this article

Modeling is a hobby that is practiced by few, it combines the love of technology, history and artistic ability. One of the varieties of modeling is diorama, which resemble small works of art.

What is a diorama?

It might seem that the results of a passion for modeling are gluing together figures, assembling models and constructing buildings. Diorama is something much more. This art is said to be a higher level of modeling. It consists in creating thematic model layouts. The most popular are those relating to history such as World War II or specific battles, but this is not the rule. Mock-ups can be related to any subject and be entirely the modeler’s own invention. In the offer of model stores there are ready-made kits that should be assembled and tools that will help you create your own mock-up. Mock-ups consist of a main board on which you place subsequent elements: figures, cars, buildings, vehicles of war. The model is three-dimensional and is created according to a specific scale.

The most popular types of dioramas

Historical and military themes are the most popular modeling motifs. They allow you to recreate the smallest detail and create historical events right before your eyes. Among the most popular mock-ups are

  • Aviation dioramas, which are models depicting airports, hangars, airplanes and plane crashes
  • Railroad dioramas depicting trains, railroads, railroad tracks, locomotives or railroad stations
  • Historical dioramas showing historical events and figures, battles, city sieges, rulers and their medieval castles.
  • Car dioramas, or mock-ups with cars, historic vehicles, race tracks and garages
  • Military dioramas are most often an element of historical models, they present military equipment, tanks, soldiers’ uniforms, military bases or training grounds.

To an interesting type of dioramas should also be included mock-ups, which are placed on animal models in a particular scale.

Scale of modeling mock-ups

The size that a particular diorama takes is a scale that tells you the level of reduction of the various elements. It is compared by measuring the actual object and the multiple by which the model was reduced. For beginner modelers it is recommended to create models in 1/72 or 1/35 scale. The most impressive dioramas can be up to 87 times smaller than the original size of the elements.

How to create your own diorama?

The most important element of a good diorama is a solid base on which the model will be made. The material can be plywood or fiberboard. An important element of the base is the frame which closes and protects the whole construction. On the base is placed the material on which the construction will be created. This can be, for example, styrofoam. It is so easy to use that without much effort and with the help of the simplest tools, you can cut out any shape in it. Layers of newsprint are glued onto the Styrofoam, creating the base of the diorama: hills, rises, curves and depressions of the presented terrain. The surface of the diorama can be made of various materials, depending on the needs and vision of the modeler. Sandpaper is perfect for asphalt, while sawdust, gravel or sand will create a more historical surface. All elements placed on the model are attached with glue. After building the ground and terrain of the model you can start assembling individual parts of the diorama, such as characters, vehicles or buildings. Deepening the three-dimensional character of the model will help in a more realistic perception. Such effect can be obtained by creating an appropriate background for the model.

Accessories to help you build your model

When building a modeling mock-up you will need a paper cutter, putty, primer, modeling glue, paint, varnish, solvent or preparation to finish and protect the entire diorama.

Main photo: Alena Darmel/

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