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Dirt, Details & Dioramas

edited November 2012 in Scenery
"" I see your picture of the plain dio base, do you have any from that point to finish????
Or sometime can you or someone do a thread on diorama base construction? ""

Some time ago I was asked about diorama bases and the steps that I use to bring everything together.

In answer to those questions I am starting this thread to document the steps and processes I use for diorama
construction, the vast majority of these phases are also detailed within Brett's all encompassing manuals.

Unfortunately this is not actually a SierraWest kit, however it is detailed with purely SWSM details.. (Why
use anything other than the best, right ? )

The structure is a scratchbuild of a building found in Colorado. It is re-named for
my good friend and fellow modeller Kevin O'Niell. The structure is 99% complete, all of the details
have been painted and initially weathered, so, now it is time to bring it all together and start the
dirt work !!

This thread is definately not intended to be a "show and tell" thread, it will be awesome to hear
from all the forum members that are following along.

If you have a question please ask it.... if something doesnt look quite right please point it out...
If you do something differently please offer up that alternative..... If you have a suggestion on how
to make something look better, please say so... We are all here to learn and build better models.
(Of course, if you think it looks great as it is then I would also like to read those comments.)

I am currently clearing the work area and hunting down my scenery supplies in preparation of
starting tomorrow, at which point photo's will be posted and I look forward to plenty of
input into the thread.

Karl.A
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Comments

  • I've got my popcorn and a seat upfront. Definitely looking forward to this.

    My number 1 scenery problem is dirt roads. Will there be any on the diorama?
  • Oh Yeah....... This will be fun (in a geekie sorta way)
  • There will be one dirt road and several dirt 'paths' Wes, good to have you following along.

    Karl.A
  • edited November 2012
    To add to the discussion. This was a rural road on a former layout. Real dirt on top of Homasote held down with sloppy white glue (dish detergent, 50% water and 50% white glue). Ruts made with an old model vehicle while the dirt was still wet.
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  • Yes, this will be fun, geekie or not Boss. Thanks again for the honour YM (spelling of honour for Nick Os' benefit. It is a beautifully done structure and seeing the whole thing scenicked will be a treat and an education as well. I advise all forum members to follow along and ask questions as the YM works his magic.

    OM
  • Hi Karl,

    What a great idea... scenery has always been a challenge for me. Will be following along.
    Cheers,
    Paul
  • Thanks for the posts guys...
    I finally got things kinda organised, I forgot how much scenery stuff I had tucked away in drawers, boxes, shelves.
    Now to get some pictures taken and posted. From the ground up , literally.

    Karl.A
  • edited November 2012
    I like to use 3/4" foam for my bases, it is easily workable and very light. For a small diorama it is also rigid enough for plenty of support. My O scale Shelbys is on 1/2" foam (although stacked at the rear) and that is good and solid.

    For this diorama I needed some elevation so I glued two pieces of foam together.
    The way I do this is to smear painters caulk between the layers and then insert toothpicks through the layers at a 45degree angle from several different positions.

    The reason for the toothpicks is to hold the two pieces firmly together with no movement while the caulk dries.
    Note:- As there is no air permeating the foam any glue used will take a long time to dry (2-3 days dependant on glue used, sometimes longer).
    Using the toothpicks allows work to continue immediately after placing the pieces together.

    The foam base then had contours formed where needed and was finally ready for scenery to begin.

    The structure foundation was glued directly to the foam, once this had dried the entire base was painted with a light tan latex house paint.
    Immediately after painting a liberal base layer of dirt was sprinkled into the wet paint. This was then left to dry and the excess shaken off into a container several hours later.

    Here is where the first photo comes in......

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    A good starting point for things to come............

    Karl.A
  • I take alot of photos while I am working at various stages, especially the planning stages, it gives a different perspective and it is easier to change things sooner than later.

    Once the base layer is dry I will sit the structure in place and check that things are working out as planned, again taking pictures from several angles, if this stage works out OK I can move on to the fun stuff of placing the details, building the story and adding the scenery.....

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    Proportions all look good,
    Trial placement and selection of details is next on the list. This is usually what takes me the most time, however, for this diorama I already spent last week working it all out and getting things 'almost' how I want them.
    So, all I need to do now is post the pics and keep moving forward.... but that will have to wait untill tomorrow.

    Karl.A
  • Very cool Step by Step so far Karl. Once again, thanks for taking the time to put all this together.

    Will that porch be overhanging the diorama base like that when its done?
  • Thanks for the comments Wes,
    there is a cobbled street section that will be added to the porch side of the diorama thereby eliminating the slight over hang.
    It is just easier to work on the scenery with this section removed.
    I'll post a picture of it in place shortly.

    Karl.A
  • Great start Karl. On the dirt you using dirt from around were you live??? Just sifted to a fine grain??

    Jerry
  • Thanks for doing this, Karl. I'm learning stuff already. Toothpicks to hold the foam together!?! So simple, yet effective.
  • edited November 2012
    Thanks for the posts Jerry and Bill, much appreciated.

    Jerry the 'dirt' is actually tile grout, a blend of two colours I like, cheap and easily reproduceable.

    After the base is dry detail placement planning can begin. This takes me alot of time, it's so much easier to just follow the pictures in the manual, but, unfortunately on a scratchbuild there is no manual so trial and error ensues.

    Once I am happy with the layout and placement I will take a bunch of pics for reference so that I can get things back in position when scenery starts.

    Alot of the details still arent finished, and some of them arent even started at this point, but planning out the placement means that I will know exactly which details will be used and I can then concentrate on finishing them all up.

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    Now that I am essentially happy with most of the layout all the details can be removed and any necessary finishing can be done.
    There are a couple of areas that I am not 100% happy with right now but after the rest is done and scenery added I can come back and rework them.

    Karl.A
  • edited November 2012
    Wes,

    (unfinished) cobblestone street carved directly into the foam base...

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    I thought it much better to have this section removed and away from all that dilute white glue and soon to be flying scenery 'dust'.

    It will get tied back in and blended near the end of the project.

    Karl.A
  • Blimey those are some fantastic shots Karl. I think this is another award winning Diorama in the making for sure.

    That cobblestone road is fantastic.
  • I really like the way you place the details then take a picture so you remember where they go.

    That cobble stone street excellent.

    Jerry
  • Hi Karl - excellent modeling. Can you tell us how you did the corrugated roofing? Thanks.
    Wayne Woodland
  • edited December 2012
    Thanks Wes, Jerry and Wayne, glad to have you along.

    Wayne,
    the corrugated was embossed over some evergreen styrene sheet to get the ridges.
    A quick dip in echant to give it some tooth.
    Spray painted black
    Brushed with thinned grey craft paint allowing some black to show through. Great galvanised effect.
    Raw sienna craft paint stippled on in a pattern to my taste.
    Burnt umber craft paint stippled randomly over the sienna to give variation and depth.
    Quick dust with rust coloured chalk where appropriate.

    Karl.A
  • As I am removing the details from the diorama I will place them roughly in order on a sheet or two of paper.
    This makes it really easy to put them back as I am working on scenery and final placement.

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    Karl.A
  • Thanks Karl for the insight on how you do your corrugated roofing - looks great.
  • No problem Wayne, anytime.
    Thanks for the comments.

    Karl.A
  • Very informative step-by-step on diorama construction. the model is top notch as usual. I'm glad to see the tractor found a home.
  • edited December 2012
    I'm finally at a point where I can start replacing the details and continue with the scenery elements.

    I usually work on a small area at a time laying in the major componants. The first thing to do is wet the area to be worked on. I do this with some "wet water" in an eye dropper.

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    The two large containers below are my basic grout mix. I use one part dark to two parts light for my main base layer of dirt as seen previously. The three smaller containers are variuos textures of ground up floral moss and leaves.

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    As the area now being worked on is a low traffic area I start by sprinkling on some of the darker grout and some of the finer moss blend to give the area texture and a darker colour.

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    I will then use a separate eye dropper to apply some 50/50 white glue/water. Now is the time to start insalling the main details which will be sitting on on the ground.

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    Apply a small drop of pure wite glue to the bottom of the detail and put it in position. Be sure to give these items a little wiggle and work them slightly into the wet dirt. This makes them part of the scene, the worst thing to look at is a 'floater'.

    Carry on placing the larger details into the wet dirt, if the area starts to dry out simply add a little more water with the eye dropper.

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    Karl.A
  • edited December 2012
    Unfortunately my cabinet was sitting slightly off the ground at the front left corner. I simply rewet the area and sprinkled on some of the lighter grout. The grout was manipulated slightly with a toothpick to look natural and eliminate the gap. Any grout dust on the cabinet was immediately dusted off with a clean dry paintbrush.

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    I then continued adding in the main details for the small area, adding a little water or dilute glue as required.

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    A few more medium sized details were added and now this area will be left to dry before moving forward with the smaller details and added scenery.

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    Karl.A
  • edited December 2012
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    Questions ?

    Karl.A
  • awesome work bro...
  • No questions here. Just staring in amazement at how brilliant this looks.
  • Thanks very much for the comments Brett and Wes, good to see that someone is following along, hopefully this will be helpful to at least one modeller out there.

    After the innitial scenery and detail placement has dried in this area I then move on to adding a next layer of scenery, some small bushes, a slightly taller grass and some differentiation of the traffic areas, still needs working but the layering is starting to have effect.

    Likewise the second layer of detail is temporarily put in place, lots of playing and moving around but I think I've found a pretty good set up. These items need to be removed again and finish weathered and then a third level can be added on top.

    It takes some time, but, layering adds all important depth and realism, and it is so easy to do, as long as you have a little patience, which I dont.

    Brett's manuals taught me all about layering, texture, and how to achieve these results. I'm still waiting on the chapter for patience.... or maybe I skipped over that one.

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    Karl.A
  • edited December 2012
    Hate to tell you this but Brett's chapter on patience doesn't need to be written, he only has to make you think it's being worked on so you'll wait, and wait, and wait...all the while watching hopefully...

    The most subtle way ever devised to teach patience...
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