How to make cardboard people for a diorama

A basic diorama with cardboard people can capture a scene from your favourite book, a moment in history or characters from your imagination. Make cardboard diorama people for fun or use them to complete a school project. Cardboard cutouts offer a simple and inexpensive way to add people to a diorama. Making the diorama people yourself creates a chance to pay attention to the details that are the most important for making each person realistic. All you need is lightweight cardboard, coloured pens and an adult with scissors to add cardboard people to a diorama.

Look at pictures of the kinds of people you want to put in the diorama, for example, astronauts or ancient Egyptians. Notice the details of the clothing and how the people stand and any accessories the people might need. An astronaut has a helmet and an oxygen pack, King Tut has a headdress and kilt. See what colours you'll need for the cardboard people.

Use a pencil to draw the outline of a person you want in the diorama. Add details such as clothing and any object the person is holding. Use a fine-tip black felt pen to add details such as the outlines of the clothes. Fill in the figure with the colours for the skin, clothing, hair or headgear.

Draw a 12 mm (1/2 inch) wide rectangle at least an inch long as the base for each cardboard person right below the feet. This tab serves as a stand to glue to the diorama's floor so the cardboard person will stand up.

Cut out the cardboard people, including the tab, after the ink dries.

Fold the rectangle tab at a 90 degree angle to the standing figure. The edge of the tab will be behind the direction the cardboard person faces. Put glue on the bottom of the tab and press it to the diorama's floor at the place you want the cardboard person to stand.


Make cardboard people who are sitting or lying down using the same method. Draw the chair or bed with the person on it and add a tab the length of the furniture underneath the drawing. Draw a kneeling or squatting person and put the tab at the bottom of the drawing. Keep your hand away from the fresh ink to keep from smudging the cardboard people. Use pens with metallic ink from a craft store to create gold or silver accessories on the cardboard people, for example, a police officer's badge, a belt buckle for a cowboy or gold jewellery for an Egyptian.

Things You'll Need

  • Card stock or lightweight cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Felt-tip coloured pens
  • White glue or glue stick
  • Diorama box, for example, a shoebox
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About the Author

Gryphon Adams began publishing in 1985. He contributed to the "San Francisco Chronicle" and "Dark Voices." Adams writes about a variety of topics, including teaching, floral design, landscaping and home furnishings. Adams is a certified health educator and a massage practitioner. He received his Master of Fine Arts at San Francisco State University.