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Make a diorama

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How to Make a Diorama

Definition of a diorama

A Diorama is a miniature scene that depicts a moment in time. The actual scene can be just about anything imaginable from a real scene from nature to a created fantasy scene that only exists in the imagination of the creator of the diorama.

Types of Dioramas

Dioramas come in a very wide range of types and themes. One of the most popular types of diorama is the shoebox diorama. This is because the contents of the diorama are made inside the housing of a shoebox. This is a common classroom project for children. And it also is a great learning tool because the child learns about the environment they are making a diorama about.

  1. Some common shoebox diorama themes for school projects:
    1. Dinosaur Diorama - shows dinosaurs in a hypothetical natural environment, also shows different types of dinosaurs
    2. Oceand Diorama - shows an underwater environment complete with variety of plant and animal life
    3. Natural habitat Diorama - This could focus on any particular type of sub eco system like a swamp, marsh, prairie or desert or it could focus on a particular type of animal like polar bear or deer.

Typical Process for making a shoebox diorama

  1. The Steps
    1. Select a shoebox
    2. Color a background and place it in the back of the shoebox
    3. Draw and cut out various shapes like plants and animals and place them in the shoebox
    4. Add finishing touches like details and decorations around outside of shoebox

Getting Creative

  • There are lots of ways to get creative when making a shoebox diorama.
    • You can cut out real pictures and place them in the shoebox or
    • you can do simple special effects like placing cellophane wrap over the front of the shoebox - This simulates water.
    • You can also use strings to suspend objects from the inside top of the shoebox diorama.

A completed Shoebox Diorama - This picture of a knight battling a dragon shows the simple steps in a shoebox diorama


A More Complex Diorama

Dioramas can get very complex and can be several feet in size. And they don't have to be miniature. They can be life sized which is something often seen in museums. But as far as miniature dioramas goes there are many different techniques for making them and one of the more popular, and more realistic, sets of techniques is to use terrain like materials to accomplish realism.

The Process for a realistic diorama

  1. Steps taken
    1. A detailed plan is first drawn on paper or computer
    2. A shell is built for the terrain surface - this is often done with plaster of paris or hydrocal
    3. The terrain shell is painted and decorated with materials that simulate earth, grass etc.
    4. Realistic structures are added to the terrain - these can be made from wood, plaster, plastic or other materials
    5. Realistic shrubs, trees and other natural plant life are added
    6. Miniature creatures and models are added

This image shows a small fantasy diorama that is near completion. The terrain is complete and it is ready for the miniature models and creatures.


External Links to diorama projects and tutorials

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This page was last modified on 30 September 2008, at 22:39.
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