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Using Foam to Make a Diorama


This is basically a tutorial that shows you the creative ways to use foam when making dioramas. Foam is very flexible and can be used in lots of different ways - both for terrain and for structures in your dioramas. I have taken a unique approach to this project and once the diorama was complete I made a video game of the scene. Now I can play the wizard and climb the tower, get my fireball staff and slay the dragon! This tutorial also comes with a video and in the video there is a one minute clip of me playing the game based on this diorama ( the Diorama Video here)


There are three sections to this tutorial. This page is the introductory section. The second page goes over using foam to build structures and the third page covers how to make terrain right on the diorama.


The Wizards Tower Diorama

Here is a picture of the near completed diorama. There are still a few more things I need to do to it but it is pretty close to completed.

The scene is easy to understand. It is a wizard standing on his tower and he is battling a dragon.

This diorama captures one important thing: A diorama is a single moment in time captured in miniature.

The basic focus of this tutorial is to show some of the various uses for foam in construction. Foam is very flexible and can be used in a lot of different ways. I used a two inch thick sheet to do a simple terrain and on this sheet I added terrain materials, trees and other stuff.

I also used foam to make the wizards tower.


Foam for construction

This picture shows a few different sheets of foam. It comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and thicknesses. It comes in a variety of textures too. The typical sizes are measured by thickness ranging from 1/2 inch to four inches.

I have a store here on the website with a wide variety of foam you can browse through and purchase from Amazon.com


cutting the foam

You can manipulate the foam in many of the ways you work with wood. Cut it, sand it, Glue it, or even use a hot glue gun with it. An important thing to note is that the cut open surfaces have a different texture than the outer surface of the sheets. You should take a good look at cut surfaces and note this. If you are using styrofoam as a surface in your diorama it will look different depending on whether you are showing an outer surface or the cut inner surface.


Tower halves glued together

One of the best things about working with foam is that you can glue it together. In this picture I have glued two pieces together and these will be the tower. The rubber bands hold the halves tight while the glue dries. You can glue a lot of sheets together to make tall mountain ranges or other terrain features that can be sculpted.

Glue Gun

A Glue gun can be a very effective way of assembling with foam (particularly when you are stacking sheets together). But some glue guns run too hot and this can melt the foam so always test your glue gun first on a scrap piece of your foam. Woodland Scenics makes a special low heat glue gun designed for foam (Low Temp Foam Glue Gun)


The foam diorama

This picture shows the major components of the diorama made out of foam: The base and the tower. On the flat base you can use standard diorama making techniques. You apply scenic cement or glue and sprinkle terrain textures on it. You can do this too on the tower but in this example I have treated the tower differently. I have covered with a variety of materials like thin sheets of wood (roof) and sheets of textured paper (walls)

(If you are new to diorama making I have a complete tutorial that shows you the traditional method doing textured terrain)


Lets continue on with this tutorial on foam dioramas. We will cover the two different aspects:

  1. Using foam as a construction base where it will be covered by materials like wood and paper. (We do this on our tower)
  2. Texturing the actual foam so it looks like terrain (We do this on our base)

Continue with the tutorial


Paper Dioramas (Tatebanko)

Tatebanko is the ancient japanese art of paper diorama making. And we have lots of them! Many of them you can download, print and make yourself. Paper dioramas


Storm The Castle Diorama Part 7: Water Effects, Make the Moat

The next installment of the massive castle siege diorama is done. In this part we add the moat around the castle. Storm The Castle Diorama Part 7