Dioramas are a great way to display different time periods in history. Dioramas make great school project options or, for the hobbyist, great ways to decorate a model train set-up or other miniature scenery. Studying the era you want to re-create is important, especially in the case of a WWII street diorama. This will require determining the location of the street as well as the event you wish to depict.
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Use WWII books or online sources to find photographs of WWII street scenes. Look for specific scenes that you are interested in. If you are doing this for a school project, look for scenes specific to your assignment.
Pay attention to the scene which you are depicting. Look for details like uniform and clothing styles, architectural styles, street signs and activities. If this is a post-apocalyptic scene, these things are still important even if they appear partially destroyed.
Work with as many natural materials as possible to make the scene realistic. Tree branches for trees, small pebbles for cobblestone, real sand for sandy areas and grass or herbs for leaves and foliage all bring a diorama to life.
Determine the size of your diorama before choosing your base. For school projects, a diorama the size of a large shoebox is usually sufficient or perhaps a larger box, depending on teacher specifications. The box should be sturdy to protect your project coming to and from school. If the project needs to be larger, a thick piece of styrofoam is a good choice. Cover your styrofoam board with mortar for easy attachment of items such as buildings, walls and fences.
Decide on the scale of your diorama and make sure everything fits that scale. Typical scale sizes are 1:32 and 1:35.
Purchase the appropriate-sized WWII figures from your hobby shop or toy store. Make sure that the military figures you choose are appropriate for the location and the scene you are working on.
Use plaster of Paris for forming mountains, hills and other landmarks. Plaster of Paris also makes a great covering for walls and buildings built of cardboard that need to appear covered in brick or stucco. Smooth stucco walls with your finger, leaving some small swirl marks for authenticity and mark plaster of Paris with brick lines for brick walls. Paint appropriately according to the photo of the scene you are creating.
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