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The 300 Spartans Diorama - The Battle At Thermopylae


How to make a diorama Part 1: Doing the research


300 DioramaI am in the process of doing a rather large diorama of the battle of Thermopylae. And it is turning out to be a really interesting project. In order to get it looking the way I want it to look I have done quite a bit of research on the battle, the spartans and the Hot Gates Pass at Thermopylae.

It's interesting how much stuff is out there about this battle and there are some really great computer generated maps that show pretty much how the battleground looked in the days of the battle. I have also found some interesting pictures of the battleground as it looks today (there is a monument there). Anyway I have all of these resources on the 300 Diorama resource page.


The picture below is a close up view of part of the diorama. You can see the Spartans protecting the pass and you can also see a bit of a Persian War Ship in the water.


Hot Gates Diorama

Can you make a diorama like this? You sure can and one of my web visitors has (Dan H. of Wales Great Britain)! Here is some info about his Hot Gates Diorama and a couple of pictures! The Hot Gates Diorama


About the Spartan Miniatures

I spent quite a bit of time trying to find miniatures for this diorama and I am still in the process of getting more but, after a lot of effort, I managed to get my first 12 spartan hoplites from a supplier who actually had them. This was after quite a few emails from places that didn't have them in stock. The company that makes them is Wargods and the pack I got is the Spartan Hoplite Unit (Phalanx). It contains 12 Spartan Hoplites with weapons and shields and they come in three different poses.


Pack of 40 Spartan Miniatures


Spartan Hoplite Miniatures

Here is a look at the three different miniatures in the pack. They look great, the detail is phenomenal and they are going to look fantastic when painted. The material is lead-free pewter.

miniature painted warhorse

I have a complete tutorial on how to paint miniatures here. And I am currently working on the tutorial on how to paint miniatures using these Spartan Hoplites so bookmark and check back again if you want to see that tutorial.


a sample miniature

I also have an extensive series of video tutorials on how to sculpt your own fantasy miniatures. You can visit my webpage for this or check out my youtube channel with all the videos. This is an in-depth series of video tutorials and currently there are ten videos! with more coming.

After looking through lots of documents, and lots and lots of videos I have identified a few good resources that I am going to use to make this diorama. There are two great documentaries on this battle from the History Channel and each has some nice computer generated graphics althought they are quite different. There is also of course the movie, which I am going to use as inspiration to make the 300 diorama more dramatic. So I am taking some liberties with the diorama but it will be based in part on expert opinion of what the whole battleground really did look like.

The Hot Gates Pass

This is one of the best shots of the whole area. It is from a History Channel Film about the battle of Thermopylae. This shot gives me a really great look at how I am going to design the overall diorama. To the south (furthest away) is Mount Callidromus and it is about 5,000 feet in height. The sheer cliff faces right up against the pass are nearly 300 feet. The water, to the north (closest to us) is the Malian Gulf. Now that I have some miniatures to work with, in order to keep it relatively in scale, the sheer cliff faces should be about four feet tall. Although I am probably going to scale this down so it looks better. But it just gives you an idea of how good the pass really was as a barrier to the Persian army moving forward.

300 movie shot

This is a shot from the 300 Movie and it gives a great overhead view of the battle scene. The scale of the sheer cliff faces looks pretty good in this shot.

Ok, you have a pretty good idea of how I researched this diorama before I started making it. Now Let's move on to the actual stuff showing the diorama as I make it. This is a great way for you to learn how to make your own dioramas - and in particular, big and dramatic dioramas.


Let's Make the 300 Diorama (Part 2: the Design)