Urban Diorama Build – Part 1

This new Diorama is based in a dirty, run down urban setting in the 1970s. The sort of place you wouldn’t want to go after dark.

The last diorama I did was based on a piece of  6mm thick foam core board. This was very light, but it warped somewhat at the sides. So this time I have something a bit more substantial.

12mm thick chipboard.  I had it lying around in the garage so it seemed a natural thing to use. It measures XXX by XXX so will give a reasonable size for the diorama.

I knocked up a basic idea in Google Sketchup the other day…. and it came out something like this.

corporation street v1

Lots of use of brick papers, I can finally get to use the stuff I bought from Scalescenes years ago

So here we go, let’s get into it.

First off I glued the insulation foam (from Home Depot) to the board with Liquid Nails.  (Love that stuff) and let it cure overnight.


Then with a sharp stanley blade I cut out a canal path. I cut it about 7mm deep as I wanted to place a piece of smooth cardboard in the gap.


I thought about covering the base of the canal with Polyfiller (Spackle as they call it here in the US) but I wasn’t sure how smooth that would turn out.

So the cardboard was Liquid Nailed into position and again dried overnight.




I spent a fair amount of time reading about the best ways to create water. I didn’t want to spend a load on the clever products that are out there, especially as the canal was only going to be XXX cm long. So I opted for the Varnish technique.

First off I painted the cardboard strip a dark green colour, then I went over it with a wash of black. The wash was quite thick.


Then the first layer of varnish. All the pages I read said use the water based varnish rather than the Polyurethane. The thing is, Polyurethane varnish is all I could find here.  I found plenty of “wood finishes” that were water based, but no varnish.


If any US based person i reading this, I would love to know where I am going wrong…

Anyway, the Polyurethane stuff stinks to high heaven. Luckily it’s been between 85-100F in my garage this week, so it’s been drying pretty quick.

The other thing is, it melts the insulation foam. So my nice straight edge I had created now looks like the Moon.

Out comes the Polyfiller again. I’m playing around with some Scalescenes roads and streets papers in the grey tarmac. I was thinking I could use them to create the base for my towpath.

We’ll, see…. mind you, I’ve just noticed they do a canal model… bugger, now I have to make a choice.

Thanks for looking, feel free to leave comments below.