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How to Make a Diorama

The Making of the 300 Spartans Battle of Thermopylae Diorama- Part 2 Designing it on paper first

This diorama is two feet by three feet and is quite dramatic. In the previous page I talked about doing research for a diorama and this page is where the tutorial begins. I show you how I made this diorama from start to finish including all of the design work and the lighting that I added. There are some great tips and hints here that will show you some of the basics for making your own fantasy dioramas.


Spartan Phalanx

Getting a feel for the scale - This is one of the most important parts of the whole diorama making process. I lined up my spartan warriors so I could get a sense for how big they are and how big I want to the make the Hot Gate Pass. After tinkering around for a while I decided the pass would be about six inches wide.


When you are making a diorama this getting a feel for the scale of things concept is very important. If the scale doesn't look reasonably right the whole diorama will look awkward. And one of the most important things about a diorama is that it look realistic while still being miniature.

Now Break out your sketch pad and let's do some diorama design

Final Design Sketch for the Diorama

I did quite a few sketches to try to get a sense of the scale and the look and feel I wanted to achieve. I like to use graph paper in this stage because it will make it very easy for me to transfer it to a larger piece of paper (A paper that is the actual size of the diorama). The graph paper helps maintain scale because for me each square equals one inch and you can see the gap is six inches wide which is what I am looking for. This is the final sketch of quite a few I did.


Now I have taken that sketch and laid it out on a larger piece of paper. This is the template for the diorama. It gives me a really great idea of the actual size and look of the final product. Notice how I put the spartan warriors right on it. You need to always check things as you work to make sure the diorama will look right. This is actually not the first big sheet I did. I ended up doing several of them. I would draw it out on a big sheet and look at it then make changes. Then I would go back and work on some more smaller drawings and do another large sheet. Eventually I got it all exactly the way I wanted it and this is the final design. This design is three feet wide and two feet deep. It's going to look great and hopefully it will be quite dramatic.

This is an important point about diorama design (especially big ones) It is a process where you continually look at things, change them, re-design them, and hammer it out into a final design product. You want to have a clear understanding of what it will look like before you start making the actual diorama. Or you may find yourself undoing and redoing a lot of work.

300 by Frank Miller




Let's Make the 300 Diorama (Part 3: The Frame and Base)

Like Medieval Armor and Spartan Equipment? I have a complete tutorial that shows you how to make a Spartan Helmet out of Paper Mache.

The Completed Helmet

This picture shows the completed helmet. I used Gold and black spray paint.

The tutorial: How to Make a Spartan Helmet