Diorama-making tutorials w/pics

Daigo_Bah

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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).
 

Daigo_Bah

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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!

 
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Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

Those are great tips which I probably wouldn't have even noticed but make a HUGE difference.
 
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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...

Thanks!
 
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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
 
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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.
 

Daigo_Bah

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Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

Thanks guys- please add any pics of dio tutorials of your own!
 
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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;

http://led.linear1.org/led.wiz

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
 

bac

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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?
 
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Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

bac said:
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...
 

bac

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Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

Do you have an image of how the wires all attach to the wall wart?
 
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Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

bac said:
Do you have an image of how the wires all attach to the wall wart?
yes, all I did was solder on a second 9v connector to the wallwart in reverse (pos for neg) and just clip it onto the original 9v battery connector, this way I can use a 9v battery still if I want to.

 

bac

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Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

Creative! Thanks for the pic and explanation.
 
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Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

Great tutorials. Dont suppose anyone want to put one up for styrofoam walls? Also can anyone tell me what are the advantages for making walls from styrofoam rather than foam core? Thanks.
 
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Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

Idpullthecurtain said:
Great tutorials. Dont suppose anyone want to put one up for styrofoam walls? Also can anyone tell me what are the advantages for making walls from styrofoam rather than foam core? Thanks.
styrofoam is more rigid, doesnt warp and is carvable. what kind of foam walls were you thinking about?
 
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Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

Spookymufu said:
Idpullthecurtain said:
Great tutorials. Dont suppose anyone want to put one up for styrofoam walls? Also can anyone tell me what are the advantages for making walls from styrofoam rather than foam core? Thanks.
styrofoam is more rigid, doesnt warp and is carvable. what kind of foam walls were you thinking about?
Ah, I see. Gonna start with Jabbas Palace or Cantina
 
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Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

Idpullthecurtain said:
Ah, I see. Gonna start with Jabbas Palace or Cantina
ah, okay for that I would build the walls out of foamcore because you can bend that into shape and hot glue it to put it together and then cover the wall in wall Spackle and sand it down, paint it, and use washes on it.
 
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Re: A foamcore edge tutorial w/pics

Spookymufu said:
Idpullthecurtain said:
Ah, I see. Gonna start with Jabbas Palace or Cantina
ah, okay for that I would build the walls out of foamcore because you can bend that into shape and hot glue it to put it together and then cover the wall in wall Spackle and sand it down, paint it, and use washes on it.
I see. Thanks for the advice.
 
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So has anyone tried to make lighted "neon type" signs. Like the kind that might be seen on Coruscant or other city planets. I was thinking about using clear acrylic and some colored LEDs. Also what might be the best way to make the aurebesh letters...any ideas? Thanks
 
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So has anyone tried to make lighted "neon type" signs. Like the kind that might be seen on Coruscant or other city planets. I was thinking about using clear acrylic and some colored LEDs. Also what might be the best way to make the aurebesh letters...any ideas? Thanks
I haven't tried this myself but having read it on a model train forum someone mentioned taking a fibre optic cable and rubbing the outside with sandpaper to allow light to come through. The cable can then be shaped and pinned however you need. You may need to use some plastic in front of it to refract it maybe place some foil behind it.

Edit: found the info. It's in this video
 
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I haven't tried this myself but having read it on a model train forum someone mentioned taking a fibre optic cable and rubbing the outside with sandpaper to allow light to come through. The cable can then be shaped and pinned however you need. You may need to use some plastic in front of it to refract it maybe place some foil behind it.

Edit: found the info. It's in this video
Thanks for the tip and link...I thought about fiber optics at one point but I thought they would be too expensive so I didn't look into them...I guess I should have.:p
 
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Just curious - has anyone tried using corrugated plastic sheets rather than foam board when making dios? It seems it would be much more sturdy, but I'm not sure if there are reasons not to use it...
 
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Sorry if this is discussed elsewhere. But does anyone have any good ideas about easy to find, cheap materials that I could use to make the "distillery" part of the Cantina bar. I am trying to go for something like this, and I have been using these images as inspiration;





I am wracking my brain to come up with easy solutions for the parts. The IG-88 figure is no longer easy/cheap to come across to use its head. I had a thought to use some fuse's and paint them solid? No detail on them, but they might work?
And I cant come up with a good idea for the straight "piping". It seems like the top image used some kind of model kit? Does anyone know of some wire that could be used?


I am less concerned about the actual bar unit, cos I am thinking of using foam board or balsa wood for that.

Thanks in advance.

Does anyone have any good ideas?
 
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This might be a ridiculous question, but have you considered casting IG-88's head? It'd be fairly easy and that way you could have multiples without spending a fortune. Granted you'd have to buy the materials which I guess could cost the same as buying a few guys, but then at least you'd have the ability to mold and cast other stuff.

The piping I would say just go with the styrene piping or tubing...easiest and cheapest. Just a few thoughts for you...

Good luck!
 
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So has anyone tried to make lighted "neon type" signs. Like the kind that might be seen on Coruscant or other city planets. I was thinking about using clear acrylic and some colored LEDs. Also what might be the best way to make the aurebesh letters...any ideas? Thanks
Surprised I just noticed this! The easiest way I've found is to make the neon sign out of wire, like paperclip wire, paint it in fluorescent paint and light it with a black light LED. Don't have any pics, but it looks awesome!
 
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Just curious - has anyone tried using corrugated plastic sheets rather than foam board when making dios? It seems it would be much more sturdy, but I'm not sure if there are reasons not to use it...
when you say corrugated do you mean like HIPS? High Impact PolyStyrene Sheets?

I know certain styrene you can thermoform and change its shape as well, (which is how some costumes are made iirc.. but dont hold me to it im no cosplayer) I've been interested in making dio's with Polystyrene rather then foamboard as well. Not that I'm knocking foamboard I use it to but I to have wanted to start using HIPS for more shipbuilding/dio making ... ala the Executor's bridge.

for an example is Wbobafett's styrene sheet made Khetanna sail barge thread... here
 
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So I wanted to throw together a quick death star diorama and what better way than to use niub niubs decals...except I'm at a loss for the floor. Where do I purchase that high gloss vinyl he uses?? Any help would be appreciated.
 

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IDK, but I think what you want is
[h=1]Avery Opaque 500 Promo Vinyl A4[/h]Info here. I'd ask for help. I don't think you need to buy the whole roll. There is also chalkboard vinyl, but that isn't glossy. It might be near the cutting machines (crickcut)
 
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Within the last week I'm positive I've seen the stuff you're looking for on Eric Stormtrooper's website, Maverick. I can't put my finger on where, but I was just killing time going through his diorama tutorials.
 
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Yeah I'm no help, lol, it was Niub Niubs Dioramaworkshop.com that I was on, not erik stormtroopers page. Sorry!
 
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Speaking of Erik's storm trooper page....has anyone else noticed just how lacking it is in custom figures websites. There used to be a ton. Look at the rebelscum customized cross road links page. They are all dead. It's sad.
 

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Any luck finding some?

I find that most if the sites I've been interested in have slowly died. Niubniub hasn't updated his custom sections for TFA (as of a month ago). It isn't just SW stuff either.
 
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Dio stuff worth noting:

Block Posters. (create your own action figure backdrops) I made a Hall of Justice & a moon Earthrise picture. It adds a logo now but the older version did not. Message me if you want a copy.
http://www.blockposters.com/

Not Star Wars but this has a few good 1:18th & 5" figure dio backdrops including a GreySckull, Star Trek Dr Who & IJ.
http://www.aftdownloads.co.uk/

Joe Dios also has a few floors, walls etc that can be made into larger dios.

A google image search will also give a good selection of patterns for custom dios.
 
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