Submit Your Work

Modelers: Submit your work! We built this site as a resource for box-diorama makers and enthusiasts worldwide, and we’d love to feature your contributions.

To submit your work, please send JPEGs to us (72 dpi are fine), along with a three- or four-sentence bio telling us who you are and where you live; the proper title, year of completion, and scale of each piece, and any other info youd like to share. We also are looking for step-by-step articles or pieces on specific aspects of the hobby, useful links, images of other artists’ work (as long as you have permission to share them), examinations of the history of box dioramas, and anything else about boxes you find of interest (because we no doubt will, too).

Email us at Jim DeRogatisDarryl Audette or Barry Biediger

NEW EMAIL EXCHANGES, JANUARY 2015

The following is an email exchange with a fan of the site who was looking for advice on doing on outdoor scene:

Hello Mr. DeRogatis, my name is John Naja and I am a great admirer of your work & I love the box diorama site. I would like to know if you or any other the other great modelers on the site will post any tips or techniques on doing outdoor scenes, particularly bright sunlight? I tend to do armor and the resin dinosaur models and would like to put one or more of my 1/35, 1/72, and 1/40 dinos in boxes, but I am stumped on how to go about doing them. Thank you for any help given!

Jim responds:

Hi John—Thanks for the kind words on the site, and glad you enjoy it and find it helpful. I’ve cc’d my co-editors here, Darryl and Barry, and maybe they can add to the thoughts below.

The biggest problem with doing an outdoor scene in a box is not the lighting to replicate bright sunlight—there are plenty of warm white or yellow LEDs available, which is the way I would go—but obscuring the sight lines in a way that does not make your scene seem unnatural. You can go with a curved painted backdrop, but those are never too convincing for showing, say, a field in the background, or any other “open” setting. You can use trees to indicate a dense forest, but you still have the problem of the areas to the left and right of your scene just being cut off. Remember, you don’t want the walls of your box visible. So you have to plan a scene in-depth, and here, working with foam and cardboard and really playing around for a good long time to figure out exactly what will be seen through your viewing window are key. Unless of course you have buildings or some other framing-like pieces of scenery to use... otherwise, boxes are best suited to indoor scenes or night scenes where you can “fade to black” in the background and at the sides. Shep Paine makes that point in his book’s chapter on box dioramas.

I don’t know of anyone who’s specifically written about outdoor scenes in daylight in a box, but there are a few examples on the site. My Napoleonic band is an outdoor scene framed by the building and courtyard walls... and I still don’t think it was completely successful. There are also two boxes of Napoleon at the Sphinx in Egypt, one by Dennis Levy, but I don’t think either was entirely successful (and Dennis would be the first to say so). Anyway, look around on there to see what I’m talking about with daylight scenes.

All the best, and keep us posted on your progress! JIM

John:

Thank you for the reply Mr. DeRogatis. Yeah those were my current options, dense forest or night. I’ll have to go with that. What? I thought your Napoleonic outdoor shadowbox was outstanding, along with Mr. Levy’s box! My first box that I am planning is a Lord of the Rings dio, with Gandalf confronting the Balrog in Moria using Games Workshop figures. The dark setting screams box, and the scale is small enough where things should not get too out of hand. When I am done I will definitely post photos on your site. Your site was a revelation to me and the helpful links! Thank you!

 Darryl responds:

Hi John, Thank you for your excellent question, one which dioramists, box or not have struggled with for a long time. I echo Jim’s comments, they are right on, and seeing the work of the great masters like Shep Paine, Reginald Franklin, or Ray Anderson, all which had made outdoor scenes, as well as Jim. I found a great little book you might like, entitled, Dinosaurs and Dioramas, Creating Natural History Dioramas by Sarah J. Chicone and Richard A. Kissel. The Natural History Museum Exhibit artists of the world have struggled and focused on perfecting outdoor scenes.Hope this helps. Enjoy our site and please do keep us posted on your work.

Best regards, Darryl Audette

MMSI club member and Chicago modeler Jim Lyne is working on his first box diorama, and not surprisingly, he had a million questions. Shep Paine, Joe Berton, and I recently visited him in his modeling space, and I followed up by sending an email listing sources for many of the materials we discussed. Since this may well be of interest to other modelers, too, it’s worth posting here. (And much of this information also can be found on our links page.)

Hey John—I think any diorama set in a box is a box diorama! Also, any attempt by the artist set the viewing window—to “box” it in or frame it—is, in my opinion, a box diorama, whether or not the scene is in a four-sides, top-and-bottom box. I’m thinking here of Shep’s B-52 assembly line scene, which wasn’t a whole box, but certainly fit the parameters you’re talking about. Make sense? Best—Jim
Thanks again for showing me your collection, Jim; most impressive! And you’re well on your way toward building your first great box! Here is the link to the LED supplier I was talking about, Evan Designs Model Train Software: http://www.modeltrainsoftware.com/ Go to the hobby LED page and you’ll see a wide variety of pre-wired LEDs with built-in resistors. (If you went to Radio Shack, you’d find plenty of LEDs, but you have to wire them to a resistor yourself, which is a pain, so I recommend using these, a real quality product from a place with great service.) There are numerous sizes and colors. For a cool “moon light,” I like the cool white LEDs. I find the 5mm size most useful. You don’t need many; one or two will do the job in a small box like the ones we’re building! There are two smaller sizes, too: 3mm and 1.8 mms. Buy the universal solid LEDs for transformers, and buy one of their transformers, too. You still can use these for testing purposes by putting one wire each on the terminals of a 9 volt battery. Their transformer is 12 volts, but it’s pretty close. http://www.modeltrainsoftware.com/ledlights1.html

Radio Shack also sells those adapters with the sliding power scale, from 6 volts up to 12, so you can experiment with different intensity/brightness. But 12 volts or 9 volts usually does it. The Evans site also has battery caps with an on/off switch. The nice thing about these LEDs is you don’t have to worry about polarity and which wire to connect to which terminal, positive or negative. One wire to each terminal does it, no fuss no muss. http://www.radioshack.com/enercell-6-12vdc-2-5-amp-high-power-ac-adapter/2730318.html#start=2 The LEDs also come in super-small sizes: chip (small square), nano and pico (pin-points). One of those in the warm LED color would work perfectly for the gas lamp. The flickering LEDs I used come in the 1.8mm size. That may be a bit big for your lamp, but you could investigate it and play with it. Just click around the site and you’ll find tons of goodies. http://www.modeltrainsoftware.com/smd-chip-leds.html Finally, here is the link to the Box Dioramas site I run with help from Darryl Audette (the Shep box collector) and Barry Biediger (fellow box builder). http://boxdioramas.com/ The artist galleries page has lots of inspirational works (you’ll get a page soon, once you finish this box!) and the articles page has a few how-to/step-by-step articles that Barry and I have written on our recent boxes. With all of these sites, spend some time and click around! http://boxdioramas.com/Artists%20open.htm http://boxdioramas.com/Articles%20Open.htm

Remember: Have fun, keep playing around, don’t be afraid to experiment, and give me or Joe a shout any time if you’re stuck! I really look forward to seeing this project come together for you! All the best—JIM

Finally for this update, modeler John Reid wrote in with the following question.

As you know I am building a new box diorama for the museum. I know that it is traditional to do a box diorama from only the front view. Would it be possible to have two views into the box and still be called a box diorama, as for example one view from the front and another from above? Or should I use a mirror on the top and have to two views but only from the front? Question # 2: Is it possible to rotate a subject 360 degrees and still call it a box diorama? Thanks. Cheers! John

Jim Responds:

Hey John—I think any diorama set in a box is a box diorama! Also, any attempt by the artist set the viewing window—to “box” it in or frame it—is, in my opinion, a box diorama, whether or not the scene is in a four-sides, top-and-bottom box. I’m thinking here of Shep’s B-52 assembly line scene, which wasn’t a whole box, but certainly fit the parameters you’re talking about. Make sense? Best—Jim

Older E-mail Exchanges

A few months back, Steve Kotz wrote the following:

I would like to find out how Barry Biediger created the beer boxes in his NYC 1977 diorama and how he created the Monogram Box and Shep Paine insert in the Recruitment of the Young Guard diorama. ( I had the same model kit when I was young.) I assume he printed the images on some card stock, but where did he get the original images? I am attempting to get back into modeling after many years and was thinking a box diorama would be the thing to try.

Barry Biediger responded:

I made the boxes by drawing out the pattern in Gimp (http://www.gimp.org/,) which is a free graphics application. I added images to the pattern for the various graphics, keeping in mind where they will appear when the box is folded. The printed boxes were cut out and folded against an X-Acto blade following the pattern lines and glued together with small amounts of white glue.

In the case of the beer boxes, I found pictures of boxes from the 1970s and recreated the graphics using images of period correct logos, which are fairly easy to find online, as well as text tools, etc. in Gimp. After printing and folding the boxes I airbrushed them with a mixture of clear satin and a brown wash (both from Vallejo) to recreate the cardboard color. For the Monogram Sherman box I scanned my own kit box, re-sized the images to scale, then added them to the pattern.

I use a thick, coated paper which is made for high-resolution ink jet printing and my regular ink jet printer set at the highest quality print setting. I’m not sure what the exact specifications are for the paper because I was just given a stack of it. The best thing about it is its weight. It’s not what I would call card stock. It’s better described as very heavy paper. Card stock is too difficult to bend at angles sharp enough to look right in small scale.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions.

We also got this message from Keith Brock:

I am very interested in wanting to learn how to make very high quality dioramas that would stand up as works of art in there own right. Question: Is it possible to create a realistic shallow box diorama (to display on a mantlepiece) whereby the model buildings & roads or pathways can graduate from large to small or into infinity to create a feel of depth? I want to incorporate lighting/shadows and/or photographs of real streets/buildings to give a feel of perspective; is this possible? Can you recommend any books that would cover the subject in depth?

Darryl Audette responded:

There are many useful painting and drawing books that deal with forced perspective, and of course Shep Paine’s How to Build Dioramas is still the Bible for this pursuit! But I would add a book used in Theatre Design education; forced perspective isn’t used much in 3/D models, but it is used a lot in 2/D renderings, and the best book I’ve found here is Scene Design Rendering and Media by Wenhai Ma. There are excellent chapters on 1, 2, and 3-point perspective, as well as forcing all of these to create what you want to say. I found it on Amazon at a very reasonable price; hope it helps!

Here is a question that arrived directly to your Web hosts via email, which we’ve decided to reproduce her because it may be of help to other modelers. Remember, we welcome your questions!

Troy Kendall wrote:

Sir, in Barry’s “Recruitment of the Young Guard,” on the “click here for additional views of the work in progress” page, the first picture shows magnets holding small charts of sizes of figures. I have seen these before on other blog sites but no one tells you where to get them or how to get them. Please help me find these, they would help me to sculpt. Thank you, Troy.

Barry Biediger replied:

Troy, the Scale Cards are pretty useful. I usually use them to get quick measurements and check that the size of an item I’m scratchbuilding is in proportion. The ones you see in the photo are 1:35 and 1:32.

The other diagram in that photo is the one I use the most for actual sculpting. It’s a drawing from a book I found scanned online. Here’s the complete drawing:

http://www.fineart.sk/sites/default/files/imagecache/node-gallery-display/photos/014/014_1.jpg

I use the one labeled as “rather dumpy,” but at 7.5 heads, he’s more in line with the average man than Mr. Perfect there next to him. You can scale it to whatever you want, of course. I print them out and put clear tape over them so they’re a bit more durable. Hope this helps.

Jim DeRogatis replied:

Hi Troy. Those scale figure cards are really useful and are available in a number of different scales, including all of those most useful to figure modelers. I have several in different scales that I picked up at hobby shops or modeling shows, but the company that makes them has a good Web site and you can order them here: http://www.thescalecard.com/

Better move quick, though, since the home page on the site says they’re shutting down at the end of 2012! All the best—Jim

This site is a work in progress, and we welcome your feedback

Comments? Questions?
Email us at Jim DeRogatisDarryl Audette or Barry Biediger