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Thread: Diorama-making tutorials w/pics

  1. #1

    Diorama-making tutorials w/pics

    A couple folks had asked me what it is that I do about my foamcore edges in various dioramas. Years back, I would leave them exposed, which would be so obvious especially when taking pictures! Part of the illusion of dioramas is to remove the signs of what materials are being used. So I thought I'd take some pics of a couple methods I use, which are very easy but a little tedious. It's worth the effort I think, to hide the fact that it's foamcore being utilized.

    Hiding Foam edges

    The most common place to do this would be for the floor of a diorama, or a wall that ends in the direction of the viewer. A strip of posterboard hides the foam interior nicely, and takes spraypaint as well as the foam board itself. Here's what I do:

    Take the foamcore edge that is going to face the viewer, and gently run a hard straight-edge along it to depress the foam beneath the upper and lower posterboard layers a little. The L-shaped metal straight-edge I use is great for cutting nice lines in anything.

    It should look like this when done, just a posterboard thickness lower than the upper and lower coating.

    Next, take a sheet of posterboard and line up your straight-edge so that you'll cut a strip that is the width of foamcore, like the piece I'm holding to measure it.

    Here I have the strip of posterboard held next to the foamcore groove where it will soon be placed. (Note: my posterboard strip was not cut long enough in this pic as you can see, but normally you would have it the same length as the board).

    Hot glue gun time! Apply a thin sliver of hot glue quickly into your groove, about an inch to 2 inches at a time.

    Here it is about halfway attached. You want to start laying the strip into the groove pretty quickly before the hot glue dries and leaves bumps. Have the strip ready to go right next to you so you can quickly set down the hot glue gun and pick up the posterboard strip.

    Once completely attached, you can spraypaint it along with the foamcore surface and get one even color (without worrying about the foam melting from the paint).
    Please read my version of the Star Wars prequels and let me know what you think!

    Check out the Rebelscum Custom Dioramas Index!

  2. #2

    Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

    Making wall corners

    Another place where foamcore can look obvious is in wall corners (or computer corners, or any kind of corners!). The trick here is to not simply glue one board to the other, but create a seamless edge.

    The first step is to take one board and cut a strip out of it that is the thickness of the other board. Important: do not use full pressure here; you want to cut only through the top layer and the foam, not the bottom layer.

    Here is the cut before I remove the strip.

    Now, you have to take a very sharp x-acto blade and cut through the foam layer only, right at the posterboard layer beneath it. If it's jagged, you'll have a sloppy wall corner. Try to get as close to the poster layer as possible.

    After the cut, you should be able to remove the sliver since you will have cut through both the side and top of it. This is what it will look like.

    Use some hot glue to attach your two boards, and you've got a seamless corner!

    Please read my version of the Star Wars prequels and let me know what you think!

    Check out the Rebelscum Custom Dioramas Index!

  3. #3

    Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

    Those are great tips which I probably wouldn't have even noticed but make a HUGE difference.
    I'm not old, I'm just highly detailed.

  4. #4

    Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

    Very nice tutorial.

    I have always been reluctant to make a diorama out of foam-core because of the exposed edges. I think I might work up the nerve now...

    Vintage Imperial Navy Trooper - Where are you???!!!

  5. #5

    Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

    Excellent lesson Greg, thanks! I already tried the second tip and succeeded, I might add!

    Posterboard is something like thick drawing paper, right? I couldn't really find a Dutch translation for 'posterboard', you see

  6. #6
    Emperor Ares_X's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
    Chandler, AZ (It's kind of like Tatooine)

    Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

    Daigo_Bah- Great little tutorial here. I don't tend to use a lot of foamcore, but it's nice to see the extra effort taken when using it. It definitely changes what looks like a dio into what could be a set for a movie. Thanks for sharing.
    Need: Han Solo (Mimban), Quay Tolsite

  7. #7

    Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

    Thanks guys- please add any pics of dio tutorials of your own!
    Please read my version of the Star Wars prequels and let me know what you think!

    Check out the Rebelscum Custom Dioramas Index!

  8. #8

    Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

    heres a tutorial for adding LEDs to your dios...

    Okay, because DroidWorld asked me to, and because he's a nice guy I agreed to show you all the way I lighted my dio.

    let me also say I know very little about electronics and this is all the basic info I learned while researching the installation. I also have to say, if you arent comfortable working with electricity and hot solder and hot soldering irons/guns, then find someone else to do it, I dont want to feel guilty because someone hurt them selves, also, I have very little technical knowledge of electronics so if the question isnt answered in this tutorial, I probably dont know the answer.

    First off, I needed to know what size resistor I was going to need in order to run this lower section off a single 9v battery, to do that I used this web site;

    here you just fill in the info and it will tell you what size resistor you'll need.

    1. for Source voltage you want to input the size battery or wallwart you want to use, in my case I put "9" for 9v
    2. for diode forward voltage you'll want to put the voltage requirement of the LED your using, mine are 3.3v some are different, consult the specs of your LEDs
    3. diode forward current (mA), this should also be in your LED specs but most common is 20mA, so you put "20"
    4. number of LEDs in your array, self explanatory, how ever many LEDs you plan to use, mine was 11.

    once you input your information click "design my array" and it will tell you how to wire your LEDs in different configurations and what size resistor you'll need. I preferred to go with a parallel array.

    Okay, armed with that information off to the electronics store I went. I got all the resistors I'll need, red and black 20awg braided wire, and shrink wrap.

    here I have the LED and my resistor. The LED is a 3.3v 5mm cool-blue LED, it gives off a blueish hue. The long leg on the LED is the positive and the short leg is the negative.

    I clipped the negative leg shorter on the LED and clipped one side of the resistor, make sure you solder the resistor on the negative side of the LED

    here I am using a styrofoam block to hold my LED in place while I solder.

    I assume ya'll know how to solder, if not there are several youtube videos explaining in depth how to do it, here is my soldered joint. I used black wire for the negative side and red for the positive side for easy identification. When I solder I'm a little sloppy, but I get the job done.

    here is the positive side soldered

    here is both sides witht he shrink wrap on it.

    here is the whole LED with shrink wrap and all wired and ready to install, remember to make the wires long enough to reach from the install area to your power hook up

    checking to make sure it's working before installing it

    I used a pencil to punch a hole into the wall and pushed the LED through the wall and bent it slightly to shine downward.

    and here it is with the light cover all installed

    this is how I connected all the wires, I used a metal hanger and I cut it, sanded off the sheen, and bent the rods in a U shape, then I soldered the positive side of the battery clip to one rod and negative to the other, then I soldered the red and black wires on each post to get power to each LED.

    and an over all shot

  9. #9

    Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

    Bravo. That's exactly the kind of LED tutorial I've been hoping to see.

    Are your LEDs perpetually on because they're wired into the battery without a switch of some sort?

  10. #10

    Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

    Quote Originally Posted by bac
    Bravo. That's exactly the kind of LED tutorial I've been hoping to see.

    Are your LEDs perpetually on because they're wired into the battery without a switch of some sort?
    yes, i havent wired in any kind of switch, but I have it connected to a 9v wallwart now so I just unplug it...

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