How to Build Dioramas

A diorama can be used to depict different objects or scenes. The following example will show how to build a diorama of rainforests.

Required Tools and Materials

Small rocks
Model wildlife
Model trees
Glue or putty
Felt, brown or green paper
Green paint
Brown paint
Blue paper or blue paint
Computer and printer (optional)

Step 1

Select a scale; the HO scale of 1:87 is a good choice. A 5 ft gorilla would be half an inch tall while a 115 ft rainforest canopy would be about 15 inches.

If the model trees are eight inches high, you can use them to symbolize 130 ft trees. The scale would then be 1:93. If you have other models already, set your scale based on their size.

Step 2

Before you can build a diorama, make sure you have a suitable container. Only one side must be open. You can use plastic containers or a shoebox.

If you are using a 1:87 scale, the box has to be at least 18 inches high. You can add some green felt or brown paper on the box for decoration. You can also wrap the box with rainforest themed paper.

Step 3

Prepare the animal models. Your animals can be 3D models or paper cutouts. You can also make animal images on your computer and print them out. If making a tropical rainforest, choose broad-leafed evergreens to symbolize the shrub layers, understory and the canopy. If making temperate rainforest, use cedars and maples.

Step 4

Put sticks, crushed leaves and pebbles on the flooring.

Step 5

Put the background in the box. Put a blue paper on to simulate the sky. You can also draw trees on the background paper to make it look more real. You can print a rainforest photo and use it as the background.

Step 6

For the floor, put some felt or green paper. Sprinkle some dried leaves or moss on it. Put some sticks and pebbles here and there.

Step 7

Add the trees and animals. Put the canopy trees in the back third. Put vines on the trees. Place the other plants and trees in lower layers. Scatter the animals around the scene.

Repeat the same for the front and middle sections. When setting up your diorama, use only animals native to the area. This will make it more realistic.

While you can build a diorama using other scales, the 1:87 is still the most ideal. The reason is most materials are set to this scale.

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