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Making a diorama Chapter 3:
Rough shaping the shell of your landscape

Using all the materials available to you; Newspapers, cardboard, and masking tape build up the high areas of the landscape. The far end is the hill. That is where the wizard will stand. The very corner of this hill will be flat so I have made this section flat.

Remember that the skeletons are in a small valley so I have also, using strips of cardboard made the area around the chest slope up a little bit, but not as high as the wizards hill. This is a good start. Note the wads of newspaper under the hill. This is to keep it from collapsing under the weight of the hydrocal. The hydrocal is heavy but when it dries it forms a strong shell. The newspapers maintain the landscape shape while drying.

Add newspaper stuffing


Now using more strips of cardboard start to get a feel for the landscape. See how the hill slopes down? I have also placed a curved piece of white cardboard in the assembly. This shows where the dirt path down the hill will be. The area around the treasure chest remains flat. This is also where the skeletons will stand. In the photo you can see the pencil drawn circle where the treasure chest will be positioned.

The cardboard framework


You do not have to get real detailed with these materials. They are only a frame. A rough approximation of the terrain is all you need.

Once you have the rough shape of the terrain completed you are ready to apply the hydrocal shell.

NextContinue on

The Diorama Making Video Part1: How to Make the Terrain Shell

Update as of Jan 5 07: I have begun making another diorama similar to this one and I am video taping it for easy viewing. This first section that shows how to make the base is complete and right here:

I show how to prepare the wooden base of the diorama and how to mix and add the Hydrocal terrain


Here are some of the products I show in this video (Available at Amazon.com and roll over them to see current pricing)

Lightweight Hydrocal

Lightweight Hydrocal- Simply the best; lightweight, fast drying and easy to work with. It makes a great terrain shell for dioramas. Highly recommended. It's the only thing I use and 1 carton goes a long way.