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Making Canopies, tarp and canvas for military dioramas

One of the big challenges of making a realistic military diorama is how to handle large thin objects like a canvas or a canopy that is covering military equipment.

You don't want it to be floppy but you want it to look floppy - like a tarp or a canvas should look.

 

 

In this tutorial we will look at two different dioramas and how the builder handled the task of making the canvas, tarp and canopy. These are some good looking techniques that will improve your diorama making.

Canopy over a Machine Gun Emplacement

This is part of Steve's tutorial on how to make a Machine Gun Emplacement tutorial called "Fields of Fire".

the canopy

In this diorama the builder (Steve) has made a machine gun emplacement and of course it has an earth colored canopy over it. This protects the gunner from the heat of the sun and offers good camouflage. But we don't want this thing to be actually floppy. We just want it to look realistic as if it were a real cloth canopy.

This is how Steve made it:

The framework of the canopy

The framework for the canopy is balsa wood with Tandy leather strings binding everything together.

To make the canopy he soaked cotton gauze bandages in a mixture of water/glue and spread them on wax paper.

Then he spray painted them whatever color(s) he wanted.

He then spread it all out on the posts and tied it down with leather strings to the crossbeams.

He finished it off by sprinkling small bits of moss on it.

The end effect is great. It looks very realistic and very military. And because it has been soaked in glue it is durable and stable.

The completed diorama with canopy

 

In this second technique Glen shows us how to make a tarp that is draped over a stash of supplies.

Supplies under a Tarp

 

Foam and wood crates and barrels

Start with your stash of equipment and materials. For this you can use a wide variety of materials including bits of wood and bits of foam. Make it look like stacks of materials.

 

Put wet tissue onto crates

Dip toilet tissue paper in a 50/50 mix of white glue and water. Then drape it over your stash of materials.

 

Press with a tool to shape

You can add bits of paper if it splits or tears with out a problem, then let it dry overnight.

 

Once it is dry you can paint it.

Trim With Scissors

Once you have done this you need to trim of what you dont require and there you have the finished product.

 

Here's the Tarp in action!

The tarp on the truck

 

The Full Tutorial with step by step pictures is here: Make a miniature tarp for a military diorama