A diorama, or shadowbox, is a three-dimensional model of a landscape or scene. The diorama designer arranges pictures, materials, rocks and figures against a backdrop in a shoebox or container to create a miniature, virtual world. A popular diorama is a jungle scene that features lions, wild rainforest animals, and foliage. A lion diorama is a good rainy day project that is inexpensive to make and can keep children busy for hours.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Cardboard shoebox, carton, or other container
- Ruler to measure for scale
- Animal or jungle wrapping paper and/or tissue paper for backdrop and walls
- Transparent tape
- 3-D figures or pictures of lions, foliage, and animals from magazines, the Internet and old calendars
- Thin cardboard
- Optional materials:
- Craft paint and paintbrushes
- Cotton balls
- Crayons, coloured markers
- Easter basket grass, green coconut or AstroTurf
- Small rocks or pebbles
Select a solid cardboard shoebox, carton or container and decide how to display the scene. Place the box on its side so it looks like a stage, or place it on its base so the view of the scene is from the top.
Choose an appropriate scale for the figures and scenery. The standard scale for doll houses and model trains is 1 inch to 1 foot; this scale is spot on for most dioramas. For example, if you are using a Beanie baby lion as the central character, then you need to balance the other figures and foliage to the size of the lion.
Measure the items for the diorama to scale. Make adjustments to the items or replace them if they are too big or too small.
Decorate the walls and floor of the diorama with your choice of materials and art supplies such as tissue paper, animal print wrapping paper and jungle pictures from animal magazines or nature jungle calendars. Glue or tape into place.
Choose pictures or figures of lions, jungle animals and tropical plants for the centre stage of the lion diorama. Glue paper pictures on thin cardboard, and cut out with scissors so they can stand up in the box. Arrange the pieces and display the central figures, the lion and other characters prominently toward the front centre of the box. Glue them securely.
Finish the diorama, if desired, by spraying the interior with a light coat of craft glue.
Tips and warnings
- For sparkle and texture, lightly sprinkle glitter or confetti on the walls and floor of the diorama while the spray glue is wet.
- If your figures are heavy, use modelling clay to secure them in place.
- For the jungle floor, glue green Easter basket grass, green-dyed coconut or AstroTurf.
- This project uses sharp objects such as scissors. Supervise young children and cut out pictures for them.
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