Intro: Make a Diorama Using Foam
Make a picture perfect Diorama using Extruded foam from your local hardware store and some modeling supplies! This diorama is 1:87th scale, or as it's better known, HO scale.
Extruded Foam Sheeting (Hardware Store)
Thin Wood Sheet (Masonite scrap, plywood)
Modeling Grass (Hobby Shop)
Modeling Trees (Hobby Shop)
Green Paint (I used Latex wall paint, however better paints are available)
Ready-made Road (Hobby shop)
Ready-made Building (Truck depot in HO scale from local Hobby Shop)
Glue(either Scenery Glue from Woodland Scenics, foam glue from a craft shop, or Liquid Nails from a hardware store)
Accents(cars, telephone poles available at Hobby Shop)
You can find the Grass, Trees, and Ready-Made supplies at most craft stores or Hobby shops. I got my supplies from a local hobby shop. If you want to order the supplies online, A good site is www.modeltrainstuff.com. They provide tons of materials for dioramas and model train layouts. Browse scenery and different scale buildings to match your dioramas needs.
Foam Knife (Woodland Scenics, Hobby shop)
Sandpaper (rough grit for terraforming, fire for sanding wooden base, hardware store)
Hot Foam Cutter (Hobby Shop, Craft Store)
Step 1: Base Foam Layer
Lay the foam sheet on your workbench and use your wood sheet as a template to cut it out. Use the glue to attach the 2 pieces of material.
Step 2: Layout Building and Road
Layout your building and roads to match what you would like for your finished product. Outline them with a sharpie so that you don't remove any foam where they will be, or add foam where they will be.
Step 3: Terraforming
Now that there is an outline for the buildings, we can shape out our terrain to what we would like. For this Instructable, I am going to have a downward slope on the opposite side of the road from the building and a hill behind the building. Using a Hot Foam Cutter will make the process quicker, but isn't necessarily needed. After shaping with the cutter, use sandpaper or a wire brush to scrape away the terrain to a natural feel. Vacuum this up often as the foam creates a huge mess if unchecked.
Step 4: Paint the Town Green
Using some green paint, thoroughly cover the foam terrain. Use a normal brush and make sure you get into all the cracks and dips so that no white (or blue) foam is able to be seen. There is no need to paint where the building or road will sit, but overlapping them will result in a cleaner finished product.
Step 5: Time for Grass
While the paint is still wet, cover the terrain with modelers grass. A good tip is to use an old spice shaker. This will help keep the flow of grass steady and even. Cover only where you painted. Use other types of grass and dirt if desired to change the terrain texture.
If you want your grass to stand the test of time better, you can use scenic cement from Woodland Scenics. I use this product heavily on my layout, so I had extra cement sitting around. Spray it in a spread pattern on your grass from about 2 feet away. Do this with the diorama on a shop floor or outside to that cement that misses the diorama doesn't ruin your floor.
Step 6: Roads and Buildings
Once the grass is on the terrain, it's time to put the buildings and roads back onto the diorama. Add glue to the back of the roads using a paint brush. Stick them to the diorama and weigh them down if needed. To get blank pavement like in the parking lots of the diorama shown, simply flip the road over and treat the bottom as the top and vice versa!
Adding the building is a simple as placing it where it belongs. You can glue the building down if you so desire (I did not because I was borrowing the building from my model train layout.)
Step 7: Final Touches
Now that the major components are finished on the diorama, the next step is to add trees and other accents. These can be found at most hobby shops. It is possible to construct your own trees using kits or natural materials from around your house, but ready-made trees are available. Adding cars and telephone poles helps to set the time era that your are trying to replicate.
You can use these skills to build dioramas of any kind and any size.
The final picture is a picture of my model train layout, which contains the same style of terrain that is shown in this instructable!