Dioramas and Customs by @Spoolin_Street
Welcome to another customiser spotlight, this time with a twist. Continuing the theme that we started last week with the amazing diorama work of @Hotrod_Crazy, today we have another awesome feature in store for you which has a special bonus how-to guide thrown in to the mix. That’s right, the highly talented customiser @Spoolin_Street is also going to share his steps on building your own detailed diorama building.
The guide will then be followed by a huge showcase of Alan’s diorama and custom work. Enjoy 🙂
It of course gives me enormous pleasure to introduce you to Alan, aka @Spoolin_Street, a man who’s custom work is rivaled only by the dioramas he creates to showcase them. Take it away my friend,
10 Steps to Building a Basic Diorama
Things you’ll need.
- X-acto knife
- Foam craft board
- Cutting mat
- Latex gloves
- Tape measure (sewing style)
- Paint (airbrush and rattle can)
- Brick sheeting (if desired)
- Rubber mat
- Wooden rods (square/rectangle)
- Hot glue gun
- Super glue
- Wood stain
- Paper glue
Take your foam craft board and your ruler along with a pencil, and measure/mark your separate panels, doors and any windows that you will be cutting out. Make sure you measure, and mark straight lines for straight cuts or nothing will align correctly when we reach the assembly section.
With your X-Acto knife, cut out the panels you’ve marked out for your building. Again, make sure you cut every edge precisely. You don’t want your diorama leaning over to one side… (or maybe you do.. lol)
At this time, you can ‘soft assemble’ your building/shop to see if everything came out to your liking. Now will be your final opportunity for any final cuts or adjustments. After you paint, if a panel is off center or crooked, the entire panel in question would need to be replaced with a new one. In most cases if one panel is off, there’s usually more to follow.
Ready that airbrush! Gather your materials for your base coat on the exterior of the building. A good color to start with is flat grey, or white (I will be using flat grey). So lets begin by spraying the entire outside portion of every panel with the flat grey, and let them dry. Once they have completely dried, you can grab the following colors for the weathering if this is a route you want to take. Start off with a flat black and a fine spray pattern on the airbrush, starting at the top of the wall, spray in a downward sweeping motion creating ‘residual buildup’ on the walls. After the flat black is applied and dry, you can apply the same technique with a flat brown and even an olive drab if you’d like. If you don’t own an airbrush, you can always use paint brushes. I prefer to use both to achieve more realism. There’s no specific set of colors to go with, just use your imagination and see where it takes you, that’s how great pieces of art are created!!
Once the outside portions of the panels are sprayed, you can move on to the inside. I usually lay an old towel down to keep over spray from getting on the work surface or the finished side of the panels, and also because it is a soft surface that won’t damage your panels. (Be careful not to have a heavy hand when spraying, you don’t want unwanted colors running onto other surfaces!). Start by selecting your color/colors of choice, and apply the same technique as we did with the outer portions of the walls, (you may want to stay with a clean inside, or maybe even stay with the ‘weathered’ look). If you desire a clean look, a coat or two of any color followed by 2-3 coats of clear will do. However, if the color of the foam board happens to be the color you wanted on the inside and you’ve managed to keep the panels clean… Skip this step! YAY! After the inside of the walls are finished and dry, we can move on to the next step.
If you haven’t already, now we can choose a floor color/texture/pattern. If a clean high gloss or matte floor is more suitable for your vision, you can spray 2-3 coats of any color you’d like, and let dry. Then follow up with 3-4 coats of clear (gloss/matte/flat etc.). If the clean solid color floor isn’t what you’re looking for, or you’re looking for a slightly simpler approach, you can find a great variety of paper patterns at your local craft store. (I went with a checkered pattern.) After you’ve selected your paper pattern, place it face down on your cutting mat. Cover the floor piece with paper glue, and place it glue side down, on the underside of the paper you’ve chosen. Depending on the brand of paper glue you choose, dry time will differ. When your paper pattern is completely dry, go ahead and grab your X-Acto knife and cut along the edges of your floor piece to remove any excess paper. Flip your floor face up, and there you have it!
Now that you have your panels painted inside and out and your floor prepped, you can cut strips of the rubber mat and use it for work mats in the shop, or even outside of the building for an asphalt texture. Just cut whatever shape/size you need, apply some super glue and place it carefully in the desired area. Once you have laid out any additional floor pieces, you can grab your hot glue gun, or foam glue. Starting with the back or front wall, and then the sides, glue each panel to your floor piece. We will keep the remaining (front or back) panel of the diorama aside for now.
Now we can grab our wooden rods/dowels, brush, latex gloves and wood stain. This will be used to make the ‘trim’ around the walls to give the room, or windows (if you chose to cut any) more depth. Measure each area that you would like to place your ‘trim’ with the sewing tape measure and cut that length of wooden rods/dowels. Once you have all of your pieces cut and set aside, place the old towel down again and set the trim pieces on the towel (you can also use an old tray or plate with paper towels or an old rag too, but make sure you wear gloves as stain can get messy!) Take your brush and paint the wood trim pieces with the stain. Depending on the color desired, multiple coats may be necessary. Set them aside and let dry.
Once all the trim pieces are dry, we can start applying them to their respectable areas. Get your super glue or hot glue gun, and carefully glue the trim pieces where they need to go. (Super glue will spread paint and stain, so be careful when using it on finished areas!) At this time, you can either leave the last panel off for photo reasons, or glue it on permanently.
Finishing touches! Now that we basically have the entirety of our diorama complete, it’s just missing your personal touch! Depending on the vision you have for the inside of the diorama, the possibilities are endless. I love going to the craft store and looking for little items i can re-purpose as something different for a smaller scale, it really brings back that childhood imagination! You could also find logos and other things you like from a magazine, or you can print your favorite logos and cut them out for ‘shop signs’ or ‘banners’ and what not. To give your art/banners more depth and tone. you can always trim them out with a smaller size wooden dowel than you used for the wall ‘trim’ and make little frames for them if you’d like. You can also move into adding trees and ‘foliage’ to add some more character. You can find stuff like that at your local craft/hobby store. Lights are also a great addition to any diorama, and greatly helps with taking photos! So get creative and as stated before, the possibilities are endless! So bring out your creative side and use that imagination!
Now let’s see what happens when you add the streets and trees and lights to the mix…
*For a guide on how to make a diorama layout with streets and trees and other details then read THIS GUIDE HERE which shows you where to find everything you need and how to put the basics together. It goes without saying that the details and fine touches are completely up to your own imagination. That being said it’s always helpful to get inspiration for your next diorama creation which of goes is a perfect segue as I now showcase the amazing diorama work of @Spoolin_Street
1:64 Scale Custom Cars and Dioramas by @Spoolin_Street
But wait there’s more (Steak knives optional)
You may have noticed a lot of really nice customs amongst all that diorama goodness and considering most if not all of them are Hot Wheels and the name of this website is My Custom Hotwheels I guess it is only fitting that we showcase some of Alan’s work in a little more detail…
My Your His Custom Hot Wheels 😀
Thanks again for sharing your amazing work and some of your knowledge with regards to building your own diorama building Alan, your work is truly inspirational and I for one think you need to do a follow up guide showing us how to wire up the lights and get all the finer details working as well as you have them working… nudge nudge hint hint.
In the meantime go and try to make a diorama building or two yourself, and of course if you want you can also add to your own creation with any number of diorama buildings from my decal and diorama store. Click the image below to see the range of 1:64 diorama paper kits. Note that as wonderfully detailed as they are they will never look as good as what Alan is creating or what you can potentially create by following his guide and using your own imagination.