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Building A Small Scenic Diorama – Part One

Building A Small Scenic Diorama – Part One

Building A Small Scenic Diorama

Building a small scenic diorama is an ideal way to try out & practise new scenic methods & techniques. Once finished, they make a great piece to display a loco, wagon or road vehicle etc. With our recent first attendance at the National Model Railway Show run by the Warley Club at the NEC, we needed some diorama’s for display on our stand at the show. So the challenge was to incorporate as many of our kits our smallest diorama baseboard the BB006, which measures just 200mm by 200mm square. The baseboard also includes a backscene board too! The BB006 diorama baseboard can be found here:

So in this article we’ll take a look at going from a bare baseboard to a completed diorama. The kits shown in this article, will be covered in forth coming separate articles.

Lets begin…

The BB006 comes as a flat kit, which is assembled within ten minutes. It simply slots together & is a tight friction fit, for speed I pre-glued the section edges with Loctite 60 Second Super Glue. The completed baseboard can be seen on the right.

Add the land form

I sketched down several rough ideas for the scene & as to what kits i could incorporate into the diorama. The design plan I settled on would have a railway track on a raise embankment at the rear, a foot crossing leading to a foot bridge over a stream/burn in the foreground.

For the landform the traditional way is to use various methods such as:

Chicken wire with paper mache covering.

Modroc (Plaster bandage) with plaster covering overlaid a sub terrain land form made of scrunched up newspaper or card strips for example.

However i’ve used a newish product to the market by Woodland Scenics called Shaper Sheet. This product is a foil sheet with a mesh type material on one side. The mesh material has been engineered to take & hold plaster but can be just painted if you don’t want to add plaster. The beauty of the Shaper Sheet is that it can be bent in to any shape you wish & it’ll hold that shape. It’s easily cut with a pair of scissors. It can be overlaid a subterrain of scrunched up news paper, polystyrene, wood frame etc.

The shaper sheet once covered in a layer of plaster becomes self supporting, so you can get a way without any support underneath if you so wish. So in the photo on the right, various pieces of Shaper Sheet have been cut, bent & glued into place using superglue. I added some extra pieces of Shaper Sheet, to raise some areas of terrain around where the foot bridge was to be placed.

In the photo on the right shows the Shaper Sheet glued into place.


Test fit.

I then test fitted the track & the footbridge to check the land form suited by plan. Here you see the track & bridge temporarily in place.



Plaster time!

Next job is to apply the plaster layer. I’ve used Woodland Scenics Shaper Sheet Plaster, which is a light weight & dries to form a strong robust shell. Once the plaster has set the land form becomes fully self supporting. Additional layers of plaster was added where needed. Whilst the plaster was still wet, the footpath & track bed was smooth out using a plastic spreader tool.

The plaster was then given at least 24 hours to cure & fully set. On the right, the diorama can be seen after the plaster shell has set.



Earth undercoat.

After the plaster has dried, a couple of coats of earth coloured undercoat paint was applied to the diorama. I’ve used Woodland Scenics Earth Colour Undercoat paint. A total of two coats of paint are seen in the photo on the right. The white area is going to be the stream/burn bed.



Stream bed undercoat.

The stream/burn bed was then painted in a Olive drab colour from the Woodland Scenics water products range. This paint is designed to seal plaster to prevent water products leaking through the base. Again two coats of water undercoat paint is applied on to the diorama.



In Part two we look at adding the rocks & other scenic details.

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1 Comment

  1. wicky0570

    Excellent article! Looking forward to reading the next parts.

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