When creating a diorama, you're creating a small slice of the world in miniature. When this world features a single object as its subject, in this case a polar bear, you want to tailor that world as much as possible to keep that object in focus. Polar bears are found in several environments, but one of the more simple to model environments is also one where your model will obtain the most notice, that of an Arctic wilderness. With the ice and snow as the only distraction, you can concentration on presentation, recreating the stark landscape without taking a bit of attention away from the bear itself.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Reference pictures
- MDF panel
- Table saw
- Grey primer paint
- Polar bear model
- Acrylic or enamel model paints
- Matt clear-coat spray
- Expanded polystyrene foam board
- White craft glue
- Hot wire cutter
- Model snowflakes
- Model cement
Find several photos of polar bears in their natural habitat. You can locate various pictures online or in books about polar bears. A stark Arctic environment featuring snow and ice is one that's easily made on a small scale, and one that won't distract from your polar bear model.
Create a solid base for your diorama using an MDF board. Cut the board to a 1-foot by 1-foot squared using a table saw. Sand the edges of the board smooth with sandpaper. Spray paint the surface of the board with a grey primer and allow it to dry for about two hours.
Paint your polar bear model if necessary while the MDF board dries. Use acrylics or enamel paint for the model. Stick with matt colours to avoid an unnaturally glossy bear appearance. Use pictures of actual polar bears so you know which colours to paint the bear. After the bear's paint is dry, spray the model with a coating of matt clear-coat spray to protect the paint.
Glue two or three sheets of polystyrene expanded foam boards together with white craft glue to make a sheet of about 1 1/2-inches thick. Cut the sheet into a 1-foot by 1-foot square using a hot wire cutter. Glue the foam to your MDF base. Allow the glue to set for about 30 minutes.
Use the hot knife to form the block into your tundra base for the diorama. Cut the board so that it resembles a glacial landscape, using the hot wire cutter. You can also use the cutter to create boulders to litter about the landscape as well from the foam pieces discarded from the main base. Use sandpaper to remove any unwanted jaggedness from the foam cuts.
Spread a layer of the white glue over the foam base and shake a heavy coat of model snowflakes over the glue. Cover the glue thickly with the snowflakes. Dilute some glue in a small cup using one part glue to one part alcohol and four parts water. Use an eyedropper to spread the diluted mixture over the spread snowflakes, gluing the top of the layer in place.
Paint the boulders created from the foam a snowy white colour and then glue them onto the diorama. Pile the model snow along one side of all the boulders to simulate snowdrift and glue the loose snow into place with the diluted glue mixture. Allow all of the glue about an hour to set hard. Shake the board over a sheet of newspaper to remove any excess snow covering.
Use model cement to glue the polar bear in place on the diorama so that it is its focal point.
Tips and warnings
- Add foliage to break up the constant snow by using model railroad foliage glued into place and covered with a light dusting of the model snowflakes.
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