How to Make a Tundra Diorama

Updated July 19, 2017

You could create a wide range of tundra models. Children may build them for grade school biology courses; architects may build them to surround their building models; undergraduate biology and ecology majors could create them for labs and classes. You can create two different types of tundra: arctic and alpine. Arctic tundra is found around the north pole; alpine tundra is found on the top of tall, cold mountains. Tundra is known for its permafrost, a 2,000-foot thick frozen layer of ground.

Choose which kind of tundra you wish to model: arctic or alpine. Research tundra pictures you wish to model your tundra after. Decide if you wish to feature animals indigenous to the tundra in your diorama. The musk-ox, arctic hare, snowshoe rabbit, lemming, and reindeer are the grazers of the tundra; the wolf, artic fox, polar bear, brown bear, and snowy owl are the predators of the tundra. If you wish to include animals in your model, get models of these.

Choose which kinds of foliage you wish to include in your tundra. As most plants here are shallow rooted and the growing season is short, the list of usable vegetation is equally as short. Cotton grass, sedge, dwarf heath, mosses and lichens are the plants growable in the harsh tundra environment. Get model vegetation that resembles these.

Decide what you wish to assemble your diorama on, whether something as simple as cardboard or something like Landform terrain landscapes (see Resources).

Apply matt hobby cement thinly and evenly over the raised areas on your base. Sprinkle the glass flock onto the cement covered areas. Allow the cement to harden for 20 minutes. Shake the base off to make the loose flock fall off. Apply matt cement to the lowered areas of your base where there isn't grass flock. Sprinkle a thick coat of rock debris onto the cement. Allow the cement to harden for 20 minutes. Shake the base off to make the loose rock debris fall off.

Glue model foliage of different colours to the grassy areas. Apply high-tack glue to the bottom of the model foliage and press it onto the grass flocked area until it is adhered to the model's base. Use tree models sparingly if at all.

Glue small pebbles and rock debris to the deepest areas and trenches of your model base. Pour the model water effect solution into where you wish to have the water. If you are making a stream and it is reaching the border of the model base, tape a piece of lubricated plastic sheet to where you wish the stream to end so the model water does not overflow from the model base. Remove the plastic card after the water effects have dried.

Apply grass flock and rock dust to the base as above. Apply high-tack model glue where you wish to apply snow. Sprinkle heavy coats of model snowflakes on top of the glue. Allow the glue to harden and then shake off the excess model snowflakes.

Add foliage as above, and add snow effect to the foliage as in Step 1.

Add water effects as above, then add snow as above to the edges of the water bodies and around any stone that sticks out from the model water.


Read the warning labels on the glues you buy.

Things You'll Need

  • Tundra picture
  • Rocks
  • Model trees
  • Model foliage
  • Static grass flock
  • Fine rock debris
  • Model snow
  • Model animals
  • Model water effects
  • Matt water-based model cement
  • Matt high-tack model glue
  • Plastic card
  • Lubricant
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About the Author

Heath Wright has been writing since 2000. He was first published in the eighth grade for his poetry. Since then, he has written journalism for his high school. He was also a contributing writer and editorial assistant for "The Quill," the newsletter of the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. He has a Bachelor of Arts in theater and a minor in marketing.