How to Make a Military Diorama

Updated February 21, 2017

A military diorama is an incredible project that can take months to complete. The artist will want it to be historically accurate and will put hours of research in before touching the materials. He will build a scene that depicts a military battle, historical scene or a soldier's moment in time in miniature. Scale model soldiers and materials will be hand-painted and arranged on a base. A military diorama can be done to fit within a case, table top or museum size display. School projects can be made in heavy cardboard shoe boxes.

Find photos, paintings and historical books with drawings to help you develop your diorama scene. Plan your diorama and make a sketch of where the scenic parts and characters will be positioned.

Make a list of specific characters and vehicles if you need them to complete the scene. You may have to order products online at modelling sources.

Select a base for the support piece of your diorama.

Set up a work space and a table that will sufficiently hold your project for days to months. This needs to be in an area where your work will not be disturbed.

Collect small stones, sticks and natural materials that you can use for the diorama.

Place your base on the work surface. If using wood, sand the piece to eliminate rough spots. Glue felt rounds to the bottom of the base to protect future display surfaces.

Build your scene with plaster cloth or paper mache according to the package directions. Make or use pre-made trees and add them to the scene you have planned.

Adhere stones to the scene.

Paint the ground with acrylic paint.

Secure a figure into a clamp. Paint the figurine with 0 series paintbrushes and oil or acrylic paint.

When characters or figurines are fully painted set them aside in another set of clamps. Paint any vehicles or horses on the work surface.

Check to make sure all hand-painted figurines and vehicles are dry. Adhere to the scenery with adhesive recommended by the manufacturer of the product you purchased.

Add finishing touches to the diorama. Add a name plate to your diorama.


If this is for a grade-, middle- or high school project, heavy cardboard and plastic soldiers can be used. Oil paint gives great colour and shading. It can take days to dry.


Read product instructions for successful use of modelling materials. Be sure to read product warnings.

Things You'll Need

  • Base: wood, slate, wood with bark intact, sturdy cardboard box or pre-made backdrop
  • Scale model soldier pieces
  • Paint in acrylic, oil or according to instructions on model parts
  • Paintbrushes sizes from 0/0 through 0/15, 1, 2 and more
  • Clamps
  • Work light
  • Small stones
  • Paper mache, plaster cloth or scenery kits
  • Turf material, trees
  • Tweezers
  • Adhesive
  • Magnifier light (optional)
  • Model tank, jeep, wagons, horses or military vehicles
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About the Author

Suzie Faloon is a freelance writer who has written online content for various websites. As a professional crafter and floral designer, Faloon owned a florist business for nearly 25 years. She completed the Institute of Children's Literature course in 1988.