Diorama Ideas & Planning

Diorama Ideas and Plans

Mock-up 3 Car Garage For DioramaBuilding a diorama has a lot of steps but one that is very often overlooked is planning which is one of the most important. Most dioramas that miss the mark are because of poor planning or no planning at all. This is an area where your mock-ups come in, plan what you want, what time period you are trying to replicate, what scale vehicles will be in the scene, what figures you want, accessories that will help make it look & feel real.

This may be a miniature of some scene you have seen in your past, or one you have imagined in your mind. If it is something that you can physically see, take some pictures of it from many different angles. Pictures are always nice to refer to for ideas or something that may trip an idea in your mind that you may not have thought of without the pictures. You can never have too many pictures for ideas. You can also visit your local library or the Internet which also works nice for accessory ideas & details. Hobby stores carry miniature accessories & materials for doll houses, etc. they may not be the scale you want but they will give you ideas of what are possible or something that you may be able to build.

3 Car Garage Diorama-01

You can see by the photos that I made a mock-up of the 3 car garage before I started building. You can see the completed project right here & it came out the perfect size & design that I had in my head.

Once you have a full plan together create your mock-ups & place them in the areas of your base which most correctly highlights what you want. Turn them different directions on your base, is your base the correct size to accommodate what you want when the scene is completely finished, if not now is the time to make the corrections. Careful planning will go a long way in creating the scene you really want & it will be time well spent.

What is your primary goal with your diorama? Is it to highlight a particular vehicle, a particular scene, time period, or event you attended? Keep your primary goal in mind as you continue your build, obstacles will arise but if you keep your primary goal in mind you will stay on track. You can always make adjustments such as rearrange your figures or add or delete something. Or you can change some accessories, but by keeping your primary goal in mind you will be happy with the end result.

3 Car Garage Diorama-02If you are trying to create an action scene think it through thoroughly because some scenes are harder to create than others. Say you want a garage scene with a mechanic tuning up a car this may be harder to pull off when someone sees the diorama but you may be able to have the mechanic tightening a bolt on the engine or changing the air cleaner & it may be simpler to pull off. It all depends on what you are trying to pull off, is this for yourself, other builders to see, loan to a library for display, contest, or just to set in your family room for everyone who stops by to see. Think about this when you are planning because different people will be viewing it & you know everyone has their own opinion, no matter if you want to hear it or not.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Phil Stam December 25, 2010 at 12:56 pm

I am preparing for my first diorama. Have you any comments about my idea of putting my diorama in a frame with glass and hanging it on a wall? It will likely need to be more than a foot wide, maybe longer – maybe higher with a second story instead of longer….and about 6 ” deep. I could even put real lights with batteries and a switch. All comments welcome.

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admin December 27, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner I just started with this blog & trying to work the bugs out & update it with the other items I want to add. Check back often there are going to be some items to help people build dioramas it may take me a week to get most of it together.

I have never hung a diorama on the wall but I have thought of it & actually bought a couple of scale vehicles to do it in the future. The things you need to think about are how you are going to hang it because you want it flat against the wall, if you would use any kind of hangers it would hang on an angle. If the back is going to be wood I would use a small hole saw & drill two holes half way into the back to actually insert the wall hangers into so when you hang it on the wall the nails would hook to the hangers that are recessed into the back & that would make it hang flat against the wall or use a French Cleat.

Also if the base is wood & hanging 6” from the wall you don’t want anything showing that holds the base up. I would drill holes through the back & into the backside of the base & then glue dowels into it, this would make it sturdy & you would not see anything because the dowels would be inserted from the back which will be against the wall. If you are framing all the way around with wood then all you would have to do is glue & nail it from the back so I am not sure what your plans are.

If you are using wood all the way around you could make the top & bottom half or three quarters of an inch deeper & then cut a groove into the front of the top & bottom about a half inch back (right in front of the side panels) that the glass could actually be slid in this little track & then you could slide it to the right or left & be able to access the inside.

I have made display cabinets like this & it works very well & they are three foot wide & two & a half foot tall. I have access to the inside & it keeps the dust off of everything. I actually made French Cleats to hang them because they are heavy you could make your diorama bigger & also use them, whatever the thickness of your wood you just recess the back that much & attach one to it & one to the wall. The following web site explains them http://newtowoodworking.com/cleat & they will hold a lot of weight. What’s nice with them is when you attach the one on the wall you level it & then when you hang your diorama & it will be level.

As far as lights go I think your best bet would be LED’s with a battery pack, then you don’t have an electrical cord hanging around & the LED’s run cool & last a long time & you could put them on some kind of hidden switch so you could turn them on & off.

I hope this makes sense, I know sometimes this stuff is hard to explain.

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