The other day I posted a message thanking all those who take the time to write the fantastic tutorials that we read on this forum. Well, once I decided that I was going to have a go at putting together a diorama piece, it seemed only logical to take some pictures as I went along and post my own tutorial, so here it is!
(I apologise about the size of the pictures, but as there are so many, I thought it best to make them as small as possible yet still large enough to see what’s going on.)
I hope you like this tutorial and find it useful!
Polystyrene sheeting, around 20mm thick
Craft knife (with a new blade)
Matches / lighter
PVA craft glue (clear drying)
Various acrylic colours
Cotton ear-buds (q-tips)
Paintbrushes and palettes / mixing bowls.
Sieve, bucket and container.
Cat litter (fresh obviously!)
…and some patience
We begin by sourcing some polystyrene sheeting. Hobbycraft wanted £5.49 for a small sized slab of this (albeit it was better quality) – however I managed to find a piece 8ft long at my local DIY store for the same price!
Then you will need to mark out and cut the appropriate size pieces for your base and two walls, use a figure to get a rough idea of how big it needs to be. In my scene, this is a section of small outside wall that he can crouch behind.
Mark out the areas to cut out using a marker pen and remove the excess with a sharp craft knife.
Test fit everything to make sure that the walls are level and that they do not protrude over the sides of the base. Once you’re happy with that, you can then start to crumble away the edges of the polystyrene with your fingers, giving the scene the look of a dilapidated wall that is falling apart.
Now it’s time to turn these wall sides into the look of actual brick work. Do to this, first mark out the brick lines using a ruler and marker pen. Next heat up a small screwdriver over the tea-light candle and careful and gently drag this over the brick lines to melt away the gap where the cement will be. Do not press too hard as the screwdriver will easily melt too deep into the foam.
Once done, you should have something that looks like this (loosely placed together) – starting to look good huh?
Now we turn our attention to the base. It needs to be given the impression of a pot-holed asphalt surface. To do this, I used a long match (you can use a lighter) and melted always sections to simulate pot-holes and divots.
At this point I wanted to add a little bit of texture to the base, so paint the entire surface with PVA glue and sprinkle table salt onto it. You can rub the excess off later, but as you will find out the PVA glue takes ages to set, so we can move onto the next parts for now. You might wonder why table salt? Well, it gives a fantastic effect that you’ll see later.
Whilst I’m waiting for the glue to dry on the base, I begin sifting the cat litter. Fill up the sieve and sift backwards and forwards into a bucket, throwing away the course stuff and keeping the finer powder. Put this in a container for later.
Now it’s time to paint the walls. Mix up a suitable dark grey colour of acrylic paints and cut the washing up sponge in half (keep the other half, you’ll need it I’m sure). Using the sponge, dab the paint onto the surface of the walls – it will need several layers so you can use a hair-dryer to speed up the process, just be careful as polystyrene melts remember!
Now the base. You want a very dark, almost black mix of grey here for the asphalt look. Same as before, use the sponge to apply several layers.
Now this is where the interesting effect that the salt gives takes place. The water in the paint mixture causes the salt to crystallise on the surface giving a wonderful texture and weathering effect.
Now its time to add the cement to the brick work. Using a very light grey colour and a fine paint brush, paint in between the cracks in the bricks until you have something looking like the below
Time for a quick test fit, and everything is taking shape!
Now it’s time to start gluing everything together. Use cocktail sticks to add re-enforcement and to assist in holding the pieces together. You can push them up through the bottom of the base into the wall, but be careful not to come out of the sides of the walls and push the sticks up straight.
Whilst the glue is setting (takes foooooorever!) you can paint the ‘rubble’ which are pieces of crumble polystyrene to simulate the parts of the wall that fell down. Once done put these to one side to dry.
So, we have some waiting now whilst paint and glue dries, which makes an ideal opportunity to work on the 9mm shell casings. I looked everywhere but couldn’t find any 9mm ones, so had to make my own. I found the stem of an ear-bud (q-tip?) works great! You will need to cut lengths of around 3mm, and although they’re not 100% accurate to scale, it’s good enough! You can then pop these on the end of a cocktail stick for easy painting. I was doing about 5 at a time so had a little shell casing factory going!
… Some time later we can now finish the detailing of the base. Begin by gluing the ‘rubble’ in place to create the desired effect.
Then brush PVA glue around the edges of the walls like so
Now you can sprinkle the cat-litter powder onto the PVA. You will need to wait for both this and the glue holding the ‘rubble’ on to set before you can brush off the excess.
Once the glue is set, you can brush off the excess and you’re finished up with something looking like this:
Now it’s time to add the small details using pastels, such as some weathering on the brick-work and around the exposed crumbled edges.
And that’s it, we’re done!
Now, add your guy and take some pictures!
I hope you enjoyed my tutorial and found it useful! I’m sure they’ll be more on the way shortly!
Some more pictures available in this thread: