Introduction: Helm's Deep Lord of the Rings Diorama

This is a diorama of Helm's Deep, as seen in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy! It took me a little over six months to build. While is was very time consuming to build, it was well worth it, and a very rewarding project. This diorama requires very few skills or techniques, and it is a perfect project for beginners, while still looking quite impressive!


  1. At least 3 4x8 sheets of insulation foam (the kind that you put on the outside of houses.)
  2. Black Spray paint
  3. Charcoal Spray paint
  4. White Spray Paint
  5. School glue
  6. fake grass
  7. Pen
  8. Pencil
  9. Hobby knife
  10. Ruler
  11. Copper wire
  12. Super glue
  13. Hot glue
  14. Toothpicks
  15. Wood file
  16. Light brown acrylic paint
  17. Dark brown acrylic paint
  18. Balsa wood

Step 1: Gathering Reference Images

Before beginning this project, it is important to gather plenty of reference images. Also make sure that you scale all of the pictures the same, so that the diorama is proportional.

Step 2: Building the Base

For the base, cut a large piece of insulation foam, scaled to fit the castle. Spray paint it black. After the paint has dried, brush glue onto the base, and sprinkle fake grass onto it.

Step 3: Making the Deeping Wall

For the Deeping Wall, cut insulation foam to the proportions of the wall. Also go ahead, and carve a walkway on the back side of the wall, running across the top edge. Using a pen and ruler, draw a staggered stone design onto the wall. The stones should be twice as long as they are tall. Make sure to do this on both sides of the walls. Using a hobby knife, trace along the lines of the stone design. Please just make sure that you are not going too deep, or it will weaken the wall. Using a pencil, trace over the lines of the stone design again, to widen the lines, and make them more visible, before you paint the wall. For the famous culvert at the base of the wall, cut an upside down U in the wall. then use copper wire and super glue, to make the grate. (if you do different sections of the wall like I did, simply use hot glue to hold them together, and toothpicks to strengthen the joints.)

Step 4: Building the Tower

For the tower of Helm's Deep, first cut from insulation foam, the shapes shown in the first picture, making sure to size them appropriately. Round the edges, and then add the same stone design to all of the pieces, as described in Step 3. Using hot glue and toothpicks, join the pieces together, as shown in pictures 7 and 8. Use a plastic cap, like that from a medicine bottle, for the top of the tower.

Step 5: Building the Upper Section of the Fortress

For the upper section of the castle, cut different pieces of insulation foam, peg them together with toothpicks, and then glue them with school glue or hot glue. To remove large amounts of foam, it is very helpful to use a wood file. For the stairs, I cut individual steps, and glued them together. This piece will also be raised up quite high, so you should probably go ahead and cut and stack insulation foam for this piece to rest on. I just cut a lot of insulation foam blocks, and skewered them to the bottom of this piece.

Step 6: Building the Two Curved Walls

For the two curved walls, cut a lot of blocks of insulation foam, and glue them side by side in curved tiers. Skewer these down to the base, and attach the piece you built in step 5, to the top of the inner tier. Also make sure to cut a doorway in the front of the outer wall. On mine, I added a keystone design around the doorway.

Step 7: Building the Doors

Out of balsa wood, cut two doors, to fit in the doorway you made in step 6. Paint the doors light brown, and dry-brush them with a darker brown. If you would like, you could also use more balsa wood to add a decorative pattern to the doors. You can also decide if you would like the doors to be removable, or fixed.

Step 8: Building the Curved Staircase

For the curved staircase that runs between the two walls, cut individual stairs, attach them with toothpicks, and glue them together in a curved formation. After this has dried, insert it between the two walls, and attach it to the base.

Step 9: Making the Rocks

For the rock walls behind the fortress, use brown packaging paper. Crumple it up, and then smooth it out a little. attach it to pieces of cardboard, and form it around the back of the castle.

Step 10: Putting It All Together

Attach the tower to the base, and also the Deeping Wall. Also go ahead, and add any other details to the castle, that you might want to, before you paint it.

Step 11: Painting Helm's Deep

Spray paint all of the of the castle, and the surrounding rocks black. Now use white and charcoal colored spray paint to add different colors and shadows to the castle. You can do some highlighting on the rocks if you would like, but I mostly left them black. I also lightly brushed glue on the castle walls, and sprinkled a little bit of sand and texturing on them. Then I used green paint, and dry-brushed it around the base of the castle, to give the walls a weathered alge look. Then you can lightly dry-brush blue paint on this, to enhance the look.

Step 12: Finished Castle

After many months of work, and a lot of late nights, this diorama is finally complete!

Diorama Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Diorama Speed Challenge