Author Topic: The Ultimate Group Project - Diorama Construction/Design  (Read 61952 times)

Offline patreektherodian

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Re: UGP - Diorama Construction/Design Updated 9/8 With New Assignments
« Reply #165 on: October 9, 2006, 05:03 PM »
I know floor plans have been made I was wondering if canyon and rock faces could be positioned in the following manner?

Offline Ryan

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Re: UGP - Diorama Construction/Design Updated 9/8 With New Assignments
« Reply #166 on: October 9, 2006, 09:20 PM »
Thanks for the comments guys. I was tired and had other things I needed to do last night so I wasn't able to post a recipe at the time. Get ready this is going to sound like an add for Woodland Scenics...

The first thing I did was to build the little foamcore platform. Originally I had intended for these to be used as a way to find a 'zero' elevation we could use to piece the real pieces together at. But for these samples it really was just a way of making the presentation look better. And because I'm anal about things like this I covered all the little foamcore seams on the outside with mat board, like I do for all of dioramas that involve foamcore edges. I hate the way the foam and the paper stand out against each other, so I always have to cover the edges.

Next I used a ready made grass mat from Woodland Scenics and cut it to size and with a spray adhesive I attached it to the base. I only purchased the small project sheet size, which was more than enough to cover my space, but was more expensive per square foot. I used the summer grass variety so that it was a little darker, and had some browns in there as if it was being seared by a hot summer sun. At this point i had a flat box with a flat grass mat on top.

I wanted to put a dirt road on the edge there, so I wet the mat where I wanted my road, and used a utility knife blade to scrape away all the grass. These mats are some of the coolest things I've seen. :) Now I had a flat box with a flat mat on top that had one little strip of the grass missing. I saved all the grass I shaved off BTW, it will come in handy later.

Looking at the dio so far, it looked like nothing more than a box. Which to me is incredibly boring and were I a regular old person at C4 and I saw a completely flat roughly 50 square foot diorama I would immediately move on. Looking at anywhere around here on this planet it is hard to find anywhere that is COMPLETELY flat, with no little hills or valleys or mounds, especially in a wilderness area. Water erosion, the wind, plant roots, decaying plays etc simple don't allow it. So I decided I needed some sort of elevated area to break it all up a bit.

I got out some old newspaper and scotch tape and made a little disk shaped object out of the paper and covered in the tape so it would hold it's shape for me. I then cut a square of the Woodland Scenics grass mat, from the excess I had from earlier, so that there was plenty of overlap. I then used a hairdryer set on high, a heat gun would have been preferable but I don't have one, and blew the hot air onto the mat. I put an oven mitt on my hand so I wouldn't burn it in the hot air, and began to shape the mat to contour the paper.  These mats are made out of vinyl so they can actually be heated reshaped and then when they cool they will retain their new shape, all without losing the grass on top. So I continued with the heat until it was formed so the edges lay fairly flat to the ground while the center sat on my paper.

Think ahead I wanted to be able to pose someone walking on the hill, or standing on it, and I figured it would be near impossible to stand a figure on it all alone. So I flipped my hill over took the paper piece out and cut a tiny little hole in the mat just big enough for the peg of an action figure stand. I then used on of the little white stands that came with the Early Bird Kit, and glued it so the peg was sticking through the whole. I then glued the newspaper in place just so I would have more support underneath when pushing the figure's foot onto the peg. I then used scissors and trimmed around the edges of the hill just so here were no sharp corners or an obvious pattern so I could cover the seams easier later on.

Because I didn't buy the Mat adhesive from Woodland Scenics, I had to find a different way to attach my hill to my dio box. I decided to use some Gorilla Glue. The stuff works great and is incredibly strong but you have to be careful not to put it too close to the edge or it will seep out and when it dries it is all yellow and bubbly. I had that happen it two spots, but it is easy enough to cut the excess off with a knife and then cover it later using a bush or a tree or something. It would just be preferable not to have that happen. Be sure to weight the area you are gluing too.

So now I had a flat little box, covered in grass with a little hill in the middle. Looking at the grass it looked far too plain again. Texture wise it looked like a golf course green with a darker color. Not at all the look you'd want or see in a wilderness area. So I decided it needed to be layered with a few toppings to add depth, texture, and something a little more interesting. So I sprayed the whole mat with Woodland Scenics' Scenic Cement in a spray bottle. I had a bag of Woodland Scenics fine turf, the soil variety. So I sprinkled the area with a light coat. Really in areas where I wanted erosion, so mainly around the hill i a few places and then where I was going to place my tree. I then sealed it with another coat of the Scenic Cement Then I used Woodland Scenic static grass, the wild honey color, and covered the area with it, not too thickly so it didn't completely cover my mat, but also thick enough to add some really color and depth. I avoided adding any where I was going to put my road.

At this point I had a nice grassy area but if you walk out into any grassy field around you'll notice there is more than just one type of grass and some bushes. There are always weeds and sometimes other grass types. So I added some Woodland Scenics coarse turf, the Yellow grass variety. Rather than spreading around the entire landscape I put in on in clusters so it was a little more sporadic and the lighter grass was still dominant. I spread it out around the base of the hill in distinct but random looking clusters and putt a little on the front hillside and on the top. I sealed it with that Scenic cement. And looking at it I thought it could use a little more color depth so added the scrapings I tool off my mat for the road. They had the same consistency as the coarse turf but worked well as a darker weed type. I then sealed that again with the Scenic Cement.

Now that the majority of the turf work was done I moved on to my road. I used Woodlands Scenics Ballast, the dark brown fine grade. I covered the area I had scraped for my road with it. At this point it was a very even road and had a straight edge along the turf area. I rolled over the road with a round glue bottle to even it out and make it have more of a packed, man-made look to it. I then wet it with water that had a small concentration of dish soap in it, so it would soak up the scenic cement better. Once it had absorbed most of the water I sealed it with the scenic cement. While it was still wet with the cement I used an action figure and pressed in footprints all along the road, they are hard to see in the pictures but they are there. I then lightly sprinkled the road with that fine soil turf to erode it some and sealed that. In the future I think I'd like to mix grades of Ballast for a better looking road but this works for now, since it is just a small area.

The road still had that fine sharp edge that dirt roads never have. So I used the ballast and the fine soil turf to erode the edges over the grassy area, so a little grass still poked through. I just sprinkled it on to get an uneven look, and then sealed it with the cement again.

At this point the grass portion was done enough that I could add my tree and some bushes. The bushes are lichen, Woodland Scenics brand natural color lichen no less, attached with Woodland Scenics Hob-e-Tac adhesive. This stuff is pretty cool. It starts out white and pasty, like plain old white Elmer's glue, after being exposed to air it will turn clear, but it doesn't dry so it stays nice and tacky. It works wonders for trees. Anyways, I attached several bushes with that.

My tree was fairly simple to make. I took a big wad of newspaper, taped it up with scotch tape in almost a cylindrical shape. This served as the core of my tree. I then used some galvanized steel wire and formed the trunk, the roots, and the branches out of it.  I wrapped it around my news paper to start so I had something to go off of. I left the core in there to help it hold its shape and strengthen it some. The tree is modeled after some of the trees that were seen on Dantooine in KOTOR, since that is the type of landscape we are looking for. So it has got the thick trunk and then five big branches coming off the top. I believe two or three of those split at the end into two parts. Once I had a frame built I covered the outside with Instant Paper Mache. The stuff looks great but it is quite messy and at first doesn't adhere too well, I didn't have the sheets either so that didn't help. But after fussing with it for a bit I got it all covered. Being rather inpatient I stuck it in the oven at 170 degrees F for a few hours to speed up the drying process. Once it was completely dry I painted the whole tree country tan, let that dry. Then I gave the whole thing a black wash and let that dry. Then I went back and dry-brushed it with a flesh tone.

Once the paint was dry I applied that Hob-e-Tac to all of the branches at let it set for about 15 minutes until it started to get clear. I used Woodland Scenics light green Foliage clusters for the leaves. They come in cubes and are kind of sponge like. You just tear them into uneven pieces and press they into the Hob-e-Tac. And it should stick right away.

I then used some Gorilla Glue to glue the tree to the base. It was kind of tricky but I found a way to weight it down. Then once the glue was dries I blended the edges in with an additional bush and more turf/static grass.

Then I wanted some longer grass, and this was actually really easy. I used Woodland Scenics Field Grass, both the Natural Straw and Harvest gold varieties. What you do is just take a little pinch of it with a cluster of strands, hold them at uneven lenghts and snip one side with sciscors so it is all even. Dip that end into some Hob-e-Tac and then press it into the ground on the dio and hold it in place for 5 seconds or so and then let it go. It's that easy. The Hob-e-Tac will turn clear and the grass will look like it grows up through the mat.

Just as a finishing touch I wante dto add some color so I added some wild flowers. So I used some Woodland Scenics purple flower foliage, tore off a few pieces stuck them on and sealed them with scenic cement.

I'm going to contact Woodland Scenics and see if they might be interested in sponsoring us, and might be able to hook us up with the landscaping materials for free. They are a Model Railroad company and that is their primary market. But I really think we could convince them they have a sizeable cross market in action figure dioramas, and this would be a great chance for them to get that market's attention.  :)

« Last Edit: October 9, 2006, 09:28 PM by Ryan »
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Offline patreektherodian

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Re: UGP - Diorama Construction/Design Updated 9/8 With New Assignments
« Reply #167 on: October 9, 2006, 09:57 PM »
Any Pics?

Offline Ryan

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Re: UGP - Diorama Construction/Design Updated 9/8 With New Assignments
« Reply #168 on: October 9, 2006, 10:39 PM »
Unfortunately no. I should have taken some WIPs but I forgot. But you can check out some of the How-to demo videos on the Woodland Scenics site.

As for continuity and seam covering which I know has been a big concern for some folks, and rightfully so. That is all really easy to do actually, especially with the mats. That being said I still am debating where we try to build it on site with pre-built trees, rocks, caves and whatnot or build it in two or three large pieces and transport it to LA, and then all we have to do once they arrive it piece them together and cover the seams. At this point the big thing I'm waiting on is how much time we actually get to set up. I'm thinking it's not going to be much more than a day, as I think that's what it was for C3. And I'm going to continue assuming that until we hear otherwise. And with that little time there is no way we can get it done. The dying time on the glues takes too long. And not gluing the stuff on is just asking for trouble. One little breeze or bump and we have to redo a large area of terrain. Plus it the gluing helps it set a bit and it doesn’t look like each layer is just sitting on top on the previous, as opposed to growing out from under it. Actually laying the stuff on there is really quick, but the glue takes almost 24 hours to dry completely and be completely clear. And I won't go for not covering the mats... it looks bush league IMO, it just looks incomplete.

I'm not knocking CHEIWE’s entry because I know how busy he has been with work and that he didn't get as much time as he would have liked to spend on it. But right now his looks like a really flat golf course green with some stuff just kind of sitting on top of it. Nothing on top seems to flow into the ground, the lichen included. It needs some elevation and layering of colors and textures. There is a gap between the rock and the ground that should not be there.

All that being said I'm with you in that I'd prefer to do it on site but if we don't have the time to do it right, we are going to pre-build it. Covering the seams between pieces will be really easy actually. With strategically placed dirt roads and natural boundaries we can make it seem like it is one piece. Another way is to have one piece with the grass matt coming about 1/2" short of the edge of the base it sits on and mat on the adjacent piece hanging of the edge by about 2 inches and then when we are putting them together we can trim it to an uneven shape and cover the edge of the mat with course turf, trees, rocks, bushes, etc. Or the dirt roads can sit right on top of seams. Once we have two pieces next to each other we cover the seam with masking tape just to cover the crack and the put the dirt or ballast right over top.

As for continuity goes if everyone uses the same stuff there will be no problems, and since I'm driving out to C4 I can get there early and be with the team that sets it up. If for some reason there are problems, we will have extras of all the materials to cover seams, fix discrepancies etc.

Hopefully we can get in Monday or Tuesday to start setting up in which case that is all a moot point and we will just build it all on site with various prefab-ed items such as trees and rocks and maybe some hills made from the grass mat with support underneath.

Until we find out what the deal is with the booth and how early we get in, we can't decide anything. Paul have you heard anything on that front yet?
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Offline BrentS

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Re: UGP - Diorama Construction/Design Updated 9/8 With New Assignments
« Reply #169 on: October 10, 2006, 09:38 AM »
Ryan,
Thanks for such a great in depth tutorial.  I really need to print it out and study it next to the pics.  Your entry came out so good.  Between yours and Chewie's, I'm convinced that the base needs to be one of these "mats".  I totally agree with you that it is imparitive that we have enough changes in elevation to make it look believeable.  The elevation changes can still be quite subtle but they are necessary.  It sounds like that by using common materials we can strategically place seams and make this work.

I had a random thought last night.  We are going to have to be careful how big we make this.  It it is too big, how the heck to you "populate" the middle of the diorama.  We may be better off with a longer "thinner" diorama representing more of a slice of a planet.  Something that is 6-8 feet wide would be about as big as we could go don't you think??

Offline patreektherodian

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Re: UGP - Diorama Construction/Design Updated 9/8 With New Assignments
« Reply #170 on: October 11, 2006, 07:04 PM »
If I sound energetic, it is because I think I found a question that has not been asked.

Big question!!!!!!!!!!!!

Will any of the of structures   have the interior exposed ?!?!?

reason: I have a some of the left over decal sheets used in Niub Niubs Death Star Diorama.

Offline BrentS

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Re: The Ultimate Group Project - Diorama Construction/Design
« Reply #171 on: October 25, 2006, 10:06 AM »
I picked up some Woodland Scenics materials recently and have started to experiment.  I've got the base of a model built and just need to pick up some extra details to include.  I really like it!  I'll get some picture by this weekend (hopefully).

I haven't forgotten about my Cave yet but I was really impressed by Ryan's sample so I wanted to give it a go!

Offline patreektherodian

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Re: The Ultimate Group Project - Diorama Construction/Design
« Reply #172 on: October 25, 2006, 02:25 PM »
Don't forget the power of spices

I used steak spice from the dollar store. For my canion scene.

Offline BrentS

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Re: The Ultimate Group Project - Diorama Construction/Design
« Reply #173 on: October 25, 2006, 03:36 PM »
Silly question, but is there a chance something perishable (like steak spice) would attract bugs?

Offline Ryan

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Re: The Ultimate Group Project - Diorama Construction/Design
« Reply #174 on: October 25, 2006, 03:51 PM »
Silly question, but is there a chance something perishable (like steak spice) would attract bugs?

I was originally going to use green tea as a grass base but I found Woodland scenics instead. I think you could use spices in the short term, but over long term I would think it would attract bugs...
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Offline Ryan

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Re: The Ultimate Group Project - Diorama Construction/Design
« Reply #175 on: October 25, 2006, 05:57 PM »
Looking back I realized there have been a few samples I never commented publicly on... and I feel pretty bad about that, and don't think I'm doing a very good job as a team leader if I don't critique every submission.  So I'm going to go back through and cover what I have missed.  :-[



First off is Joerhyno's tower:

Joe for a first timer you really did a fantastic job. I really like the bunker type entrance and all the little greeblies you added to it. The radar dish and satellite dish on top look GREAT. The paneling on the sides of the bunker entrance looks pretty neat.

The tower itself though is kind of plain. I know my concept was too, that's why I added the window type vents and the riveted metal corners. I see you do plan on going back and add some vents or something to the tower which is good. It seems like you spent a whole lot of time on the entrance and the radar dish that you didn't really get to the tower itself. I'm not saying you need to add any of the details I had in my concept there, but it needs something. Perhaps you could extend the paneling/wires you have done down around the entrance there to cover the sides of the tower. I think that would help it flow together better, right now it almost feels as if the tower and the entrance are two separate buildings. The radar dish and the satellite dish up on top there are great but they bend in a little too much with the tower in my opinion. Perhaps you could paint them a slightly darker shade of grey so they stand out a little bit more. Other than that the detail and design looks great.

On the actual construction techniques, it looks like you found out masking tape doesn't work really well on the corners. Paint is a bitch like that, in that it will show every little imperfection you had prior to painting that you may not have even noticed. That being said leaving the foam edges exposed has a very similar effect as the foam absorbs paint differently than the paper that covers it, you will get two different shades of the color you painted on and it will be even more noticeable. The best way I've found to cover the corners is to use a piece of matboard. Rather than just covering the foam edge and having one little strip that is elevated from the rest of the wall, unless you can incorporate that into your design, I usually cover the entire side that has exposed edges with the matboard. Matboard is thick so scissors don't really work too well. The same utility knife that you would use for foamcore will work wonders though. You can get some really sharp precise cuts with it. Draw out the shape of the side you need to cover with matboard in the exact scale it needs to be then cut it out with the utility knife, using a metal straight edge wherever possible. Once it is cut you can glue it on with plain old white Elmer's glue. Be sure to weight it for the best adhesion. If the edges lift up you can just squirt a little more glue in the crack and hold it down for a bit and it should be fine. If any excess glue leaks out either wipe it off quickly or wait until it dries and cut it off with a knife. This technique may take a little longer, but in the end it will give you a far more professional looking piece.




Next is Daigo-Bah's terrain piece. I don't know how I missed this one. :-[

Greg this really turned out very nicely. The ground is fantastic. Did you use sheets or the pulp? That type of dirt would be an excellent look for the ground if we had more time, the only concern I have is that you said it took four days to dry, which would end up being most of the convention if we build this on site. But I do really like how you were able to incorporate the logs and the moss into the ground as if they are growing out of it, or partially covered by it. The little ruins turned out great and that may be something we want to recreate for the final diorama. I can't quite decide on whether or not I like the leaves on the tree. I guess they could be that big, but is hard imagining that since I know where they come from in real life and they just seem out of scale. At the same time when I'm able to block out what they really are it looks great. So I'm still kind of on the fence about the tree. If we do go pre-built for the terrain, we may need to incorporate your ground technique into it.




Patreek somehow I forgot your canyon as well :-\

You really did a nice job on that canyon. I think that the revamped version better, it looks great. I really like the vegetation on the canyon walls you put there, it's a real nice touch. That dried up riverbed looks pretty cool. I love the cracked effect you have going on. Those purple berry bushes are excellent, that shot of the two-headed podrace announcer picking berries is perfect.  :)

Looking at the river bed it is pretty easy to pick out the hard line between the saw dust and the river bed itself. I think I would try to cover the edges a bit to try and fade that line out so the two surfaces blend into each other and feel more natural. If that canyon was cut by water erosion it wouldn't have so many sharp ledges and corners. I think that the technique you used for that rock you showed a page or two ago would have worked really well here to break up the edges a bit. If you can't really go back and change that now you could add a few big loose rocks in the canyon that have sharp edges as well that look like they may have broken off of the wall. I like the updated version with the grass on top, I think I would have given it less of a grey color though; right now it looks a little too rocky. But I like what you have going on with grass gradually fading to dirt and then the rock around the cliff face.

Everyone keep up the great work, stay tuned for another little assignment coming up in the next few days, in the mean time help with the website. :)
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Offline Daigo-Bah

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Re: The Ultimate Group Project - Diorama Construction/Design
« Reply #176 on: October 25, 2006, 08:25 PM »
Thanks for the comments Ryan!  I don't want to speak for everyone, but I think we could all cut some slack on the job the leaders are doing.  I really think the whole purpose of this is to have fun showcasing our creations, and if we get too concerned about everything being perfect (as if this were a submission for a job) we would lose the fun aspect.

To answer about the instant papier mache', it was the pulp type.  The layer I put down was pretty thin, but it did take a few days for the "sponginess" of the terrain to dry out.
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Offline patreektherodian

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Re: The Ultimate Group Project - Diorama Construction/Design
« Reply #177 on: October 25, 2006, 10:00 PM »
Don't mean to bug ya but  any of the smells of any of the spices dies down after a while. Mixed with spray glue and paint, I have not had any problems with bugs and that is while I work outside in the garage. Just for me, I find it a lot cheaper and also more realistic than woodlant scenics ( which is of just shredded colored foam) But hey we can debate on an a lot of things till we are blue in the face. I don't mind working with anything.

Offline BrentS

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Re: The Ultimate Group Project - Diorama Construction/Design
« Reply #178 on: October 27, 2006, 11:38 PM »
I used my newest diorama piece to show off some custom wookies in my other thread.   However, the diorama was actually created based off inspiration from Ryan's work.  Here are a few other shots:

I used the ready grass mat and created a few rolling hills.  I added some extra turf cover and then added some of the green grass features.  I'm going to finish the tree and then add some more stuff.  I'll clean up around the edges of the whole thing when I'm done.



Work in progress on a tree.  I used the tutorial that Roronn pointed out for a wire frame and its covered in plaster cloth strips.  Waiting for it to dry and then I'll add the "foliage"using Woodland Scenics stuff.



Here is a close up of the grass with a figure in the background.




I have to agree with Ryan that I really think this Woodland Scenics stuff will be great for the diorama.  I'm not sure how well the trees will turn out but for the basic "floor" I think this stuff will be great.

Offline patreektherodian

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Re: The Ultimate Group Project - Diorama Construction/Design
« Reply #179 on: October 28, 2006, 11:42 PM »
Very cool!! :D  I particularly like the tree. What if you did not add foliage to it? I like the knarlyness of it.