by: Todd Michalak [ ]
(From the Author, László Adóba of the "Let's Build a Diorama" series)
“Readers may get hints (from Building Dioramas) on achieving different surface finishes and on painting them, get to know some raw material not too wide-spread in scale modeling, and some new ways to use well know matters. All this is going to be shown by building objects in approximately 1:35 scale.”
Often in the world of modeling, we the modelers, build a wide variety of models to scale and even more often than not wish to depict these models in a natural scene. One of the biggest hurtles with placing a model in a diorama or vignette setting is the construction of structures and objects to add life to the scene or even tell the story we are trying to convey. László Adóba’s Building Dioramas; Stone Objects can help you achieve this using a multitude of ordinary construction materials that you can find within your home or found cost efficiently from local crafts stores.
Building Dioramas; Stone Objects, is László Adóba’s third book on step by step construction of dioramas. In this book, Laszlo shows and explains with great detail on how to construct a wide variety of stone structures common to the world and would most certainly fit well in any diorama.
The book is outlined in five chapters with and epilogue spread out of this picture loaded 64 pages. The chapters are listed in the Table of Contents as follows:
▪ Chapter I: Flower holders
▪ Chapter II: Tombstones
▪ Chapter III: Fountains, waterworks
▪ Chapter IV: Equestrian monument
▪ Chapter V: Mausoleum
▪ Epilogue and preview
In Chapter I, László explains the construction of flower holders and pots. These little details can add color and life to any diorama or vignette. The construction is laid out over 7 pages with clear, color photographs with captions explaining step by step building processes. Using materials such as cardboard, Milliput and putty, the description of the building is clearly written and easy to follow.
Chapter II shows us the building of slightly more elaborate object such as Tombstones and Gravestones. Step by step again, the building process is laid out over 16 pages describing how to utilize materials such as Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) and cardboard along with putty and modeling mediums to be able to fabricate large and small tombstones along with other objects found not only in cemeteries, but along roadsides and town squares.
Chapter III show us how to create fountain structures and several useful techniques using water effects spread out over 18 pages. These structures are more complex to construct than the tombstones but after a bit of practice you will be building a fountain in no time. The explanation of the use of water effects is extremely helpful for any one unfamiliar with these products. Laszlo show the creation of standing as well as babbling water that is found pouring from various spouts of fountains.
Chapter IV gives us a step by step building of symmetrical objects often used as a base for public monuments. Using a figure riding a horse with figures placed around the horse and rider, László shows how to make and add the finish to this monument in a marble type finish. In addition to the building and painting the author describes how he casts details from other objects to add to his structures.
Chapter V, László shows us how to construct even larger structures as in a mausoleum. Again using cardboard in various sizes and thicknesses, modeling sculpting mediums and finally the finishing of the structure, the author proves the fact that with everyday materials that we all probably have lying around on our modeling workbenches, we can create elaborate additions and add them to our Dioramas or Vignettes.
In the Epilogue and preview section, László Adóba gives us a glimpse into future publications whereas he shows how to construct everyday objects such as tables, chairs, bookcases and more.
After reading through this book…not once, but twice, I decided to have a crack at the process László defines in his book! Using the basic materials that he calls for construction throughout the pages of Building Dioramas, it was time to begin.
Gathering up glue, Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) some cardboard and a wooden plaque I had lying around. I started with a styrene sheet base, slightly smaller than the plaque I had. Now it was time to start cutting the XPS. XPS is a great material for many forms of construction in the modeling world. It cuts easy with a sharp blade, sands smooth and glues together with standard PVA glue.
After cutting the basic shapes of a small two step structure as well as cutting simple square pieces of cardboard for a stone post, it is time to glue everything together. The XPS is even easier to cut to shape if you make a small template out of cardboard, glue to the XP and finally use a sharp blade to cut along the cardboard. Now you have solid pieces for building in any shape you can imagine.
Allowing sufficient time for the glue to dry, I began mixing some Milliput modeling putty. Rolling this thin and cutting to the shape of the two steps, this was still soft when I applied some PVA to the steps and glued the Milliput down. Being soft, it was easy to carve segments in the lower step and cracks in the top step. Along with the cracks, I wanted to add some decay of the stone structure. Easily done, I picked away at the soft Milliput with my #11 blade exposing the XPS below. I also dug the tip of the blade into the XPS and carved out some additional damage.
Next, I took some Vallejo Texture paint and gave everything but the Milliput step a quick thin coat. This will give a nice texture to the finished product. Once dry, I gave the entire piece a good primer coat and then proceeded to add some pre-shading. Moving forward of the painting, I laid down a few different coats of sand colors to fill in the base.
After the base had a chance to dry, I mixed some plaster, sand and some Afrika Dusk Pigment from K4. This was applied with a brush over the horizontal surface that makes up most of the base. While this dried, I hand painted with Vallejo Stone Grey, which dries extremely fast, I was able to hit this with a clear coat, hair spray and some salt technique giving me a base for a mixture of white and sand color to be airbrushed over it. With a stiff brush, I chipped off the salt and then dampened sections with a clean brush with water. This softened the surface coats of white and sand and I was able to chip back some of the paint to give this small structure an old stone appearance.
This was just too much fun. I am looking forward to working on other, more elaborate structures in the future. László Adóba has shown us an incredibly simple procedure for helping us in achieving detailed dioramas.
Building Dioramas; Stone Objects gives us a rewarding look into the world of constructing structures and objects that we all need to make any diorama a highly detailed and special piece. The author conveys his vast expertise in the making of dioramas and their components in a simple and easy to follow step by step venue that is a must for anyone looking to spice up their building of dioramas or vignettes.
More of the vignette that was started here will be presented in a future article...stay tuned!