Here’s a quick overview of how I approach creating a display board/diorama.
1: Materials. Have enough. Here I’m making a display for ten infantry models. This foam block seemed like enough volume.
Tools: retractable utility knife, the kind with the break-off blades. I test fit some models on top of the block to see it’s a crowded 4-9 guys. So I know I’ll have to cut it down at least 1/3 to give me area to spread them out for better staging.
2: Chopping the block down and using the slivers to create the tiers around the original block. Dry-fitting and re-cutting frequently to get believable layers. When bulked out well, low-temp hot glued to cardboard. Masonite is preferable, but non-water based glue keeps the board from warping. And I have no shortage of shipping boxes. Hot glue makes good gap filler as well. Additional knife carving and dremeling creates strata and handy non-skid fig placement areas.
3: True 3 is missing. I got no unpainted shot of milticolor matchsticks, Citadel plastic kit bits, slate chips, etc. but you can see the adds from last pic to this. All hot-glued down.
Important Note: Spraypaint melts styrene. So does superglue. Acetone even more. This can be cool, but is usually not desirable. I would normally Gesso a piece at this stage, but impatience and laziness made me do things like spray cheap paint at it from far away and hope for the best, coat some areas with superglue to firm it up, and finally airbrush into all the gutted parts so it wasn’t white in there. Double Note: offgassing spraypaint, Superglue fumes, and atomized acrylics are unhealthy, kids. Ventilation and safety and whatnot.
4: Now that all the important stuff was finalled, I went back and superglued down additional sand for testure. CA instead of PVA for speed and the aforementioned avoidance of cardboard warpage. These areas were then primed with airbrush. Once I had enough confidence that the extremely chip-prone styrene was toughened up enough, the painting and drybrushing began in earnest. I tend to work through a value range with paints I trust, then go back and wash over areas I want to pick out, which you will see in a moment.
5:. In this case, boards and craters got additional love. Very thin paints applied over detail areas to maintain the values established in the drybrush. Then some washes to add definition and weathering / rot.
That’s pretty much it. Normally I’d add static grass and maybe detail out some rocks at this point, but time and difficult locating that batch of supplies were against me. Overall, about an 80% delivery bar. Plenty of things to come back and touch up if desired, but consistent finish that seems intentional achieved.
I hope this has answered more questions than it’s raised.
Small things in mass quantities. There's something about armies of stuff. Here you will find projects by artist & animator Jeremy Dale.