15mm Model Making Guide

One of my many hobbies is making miniature battlefields dioramas. It is a hobby that takes a lot of time, patients, and effort but can be a very cool one. I have made a couple of models including a Civil War diorama, Napoleonic War diorama, and World War Two diorama. This guide will hopefully help you with your model and give you a few helpful tips to make it even better. Please do not leave any rude comments, criticism is okay and questions are accepted and replied to as soon as I can.

P.S. These type of models awe school judges in school funded competitions. I won every year I did one.

Step 1: Choose an Era

When choosing an era or particular war you should go with what you know and like. For example I like to study the Colonial Era Wars and the World Wars but maybe someone else likes to study the American Revolution, it all depends on what you like (unless you were given a school topic to do you project on). The last diorama I made I chose the Napoleonic War because it is a very interesting war that featured a lot of amazing generals such as Napoleon, Wellington, and Lord Nelson.

Step 2: Accuracy Counts

Make sure that you do all your research about your battle prior to buying the miniatures. A good website is wikipedia.org for basic research but you may have to surf around for more detailed uniform information.

Step 3: Choosing the Right Miniatures

When you choose miniatures make sure you choose from reliable websites. This means that eBay is out because you never know exactly what you are going to get. Also make sure that you confirm if the miniatures are painted or unpainted because it is very bad to get some that are half-painted and with inaccurate uniforms. Here are some websites that I personally recommend for miniatures (I have ordered from these ones).

1) http://www.warweb.com/ For all kinds of assorted miniatures, especially Napoleonic ones. I personally recommend Old Glory miniatures.
2) http://www.historicalminiatures.com/ For all kinds but mainly for American Civil War miniatures. I recommend Stone Mountain Miniatures Inc.

Step 4: Building the Base

First, you need to get a piece of plywood about the size that you want you battle field to be. Next, build hills and mountains out of Styrofoam. Now cover the whole thing in artists canvas and paint it white. Then, use plaster to build the terrain such as rivers and hills. Add whatever vegetation that you want to add and then paint the whole thing. You can buy several kits from hobby stores that have types of artificial grass and water in them that you can apply to your model (I used a water kit, mountain kit, and a grassland kit for this model).

Step 5: Paint the Miniatures

Paint the miniatures with the proper colors for the uniforms of that time. Next, just stick them to the model with superglue.

Step 6: Gallery

This is a gallery of the model that I made on the Battle of Austerlitz in the Napoleonic War. Enjoy the pictures.



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    23 Discussions

    Jackal S

    3 years ago

    I love painting models, and this is impressive, but I have one question. What do you use to seal the paint in? I havent been able to find one...


    8 years ago on Introduction

    you have some mad mini modeling skills. you should look into Warhammer 40,000  i cant tell the detail on your minis, but it looks pretty good. the terrain hwever is incredible, with a great attention to detail, i myself do warhammer and i specialize in terrain, especially grasslands and mountains. you should make an ible devoted entirely to making terrain.  faved. good ible too. i know what you mean about the annoying fuzzy images of small things. try the macro setting with a backlit background with the light setting on the camera turned down and use a tripod.

    4 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I looked into Warhammer 40K but then I found Flames of War. Me being a history fan more than a sci-fi fan it caught my attention and I intend to purchase some models later. Also do you have any opinion on Reaper Paints? I prefer them to other paints and as a modeler I wondered if you had an opinon.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Do you use Plaster of Paris?  While a versatile medium, I have found it chips easily.  While I use Poster paint in my mix to give it a base color, it never fails to leave obvious chips and flakes when I have to move it.

    Anybody have an option to PoP?

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I usually mix a good amount of PVA wood glue into the plaster. It helps the whole thing hold together a little better and to not chip as much. Also the painting after the plastering increases the durability of the plaster.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 1

    That would be really cool. I was thinking about making a sci-fi Lord of the Rings kind of model but I decided to go for the Napoleonic era on this one. Be sure to post pics if you make it.

     If you're going to make LotR one, checkout Games Workshop's LotR miniatures. Splendid quality and they make them incollaboration with the studios that filmed the movies.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    nice. you shoud get into model railroding walthers.com is good for that...... FREE CATALOGS MONTHLY!

    No, I really don't want to mess around with all that. I just like to make the models from scratch not the figures.

    Yeah, they are pretty cool and you get really good grades on them if you enter them in school competitions. Have you ever made one for a school competition.