July 25, 2011

Tutorial: How To Make a Desktop Diorama

Today I'm going to show how I create my fanciful desktop dioramas, like those pictured here.

A diorama is a "three-dimensional miniature or life-size scene in which figures, stuffed wildlife, or other objects are arranged in a naturalistic setting against a painted background".
For this project you will need to find a small box with a "window" in the lid. I found these stainless steel spice boxes online. Make sure that it is deep enough for several layers of images.

This little box is 3 inches square and 2 inches deep.

You could also use a wooden shadow box like this one that I found at a local craft store.

You can draw and paint your own motifs, use pictures from books or magazines, use rubber stamp art, or clip art from your files. I'm using one of my own illustrations for this project.

I've taken motifs from the illustration and reduced them in size on my computer so that they will fit into a 3" square space. Then I printed them on white card stock.

If you are using art that is on lightweight paper, such as images from a book or magazine, use a good paper glue and glue them onto card stock or other sturdy, heavyweight paper. I'm going to use that flower patch square that's in the right hand corner for the background, so I made sure it is at least 3" square to cover the back of the box.

Next I place the box on top of the background art and trace around it with pencil.

Then I cut it out just inside of the lines. I cover the back of it with a thin film of glue (I have used both Aleene's Tacky Glue and E6000 Craft Glue and either one works fine) and then place it inside on the back wall of the box, pressing it firmly to make sure it lays flat.

IMPORTANT STEP: Each piece (except for the background square) is going to need a little 1/4" tab at the bottom for gluing. I always draw it in with a pencil so that I don't forget it when I'm cutting out the pieces.

Next I cut out the other pieces that I plan to use. I use small, sharp scissors that make it easy to maneuver around tiny details.

I fold back each tab and crease it really well, then fold it back out half-way so that it is at a 90 degree angle from the front.

I put a nice glob of glue on the bottom of the tab of the first element, a flower, and place it about two-thirds of the way into the box. I tamp it down with my finger to make sure it is firm against the bottom.

I add the wheelbarrow about one-third of the way from the front...

And I add the watering can at the very front of the box.

Next, I round off the edges of the tab on the piece that will decorate the top so that it will have a nice finished look to it.

I place the lid on the box...

...and then glue the top piece right behind the lid and center it. This is where a ruler comes in handy.

And voila! A little 3-D miniature world to enjoy!

I hope this gets those creative juices going and that you'll have fun creating your own diorama with images you might find in a vintage children's book, using rubber stamps, or better yet, using your own drawings!

Not feeling crafty today? You can choose from an assortment of dioramas already made up and ready to adorn your desktop -they are available in my Etsy shop: Susan Faye Originals.

Thanks for visiting!


Plushpussycat said...

Nice tutorial! And the result is so cute! :-)

Anonymous said...

I love this tutorial :D

MochaCurls said...

So pretty- great tutorial!

Ibarra Creations 4U said...

I love miniature things and this is as cute as they get!!! Thanks for the tutorial!

iHanna said...

Yours are super cute and the tin perfect. Thanks for sharing this super cute idea!

Linda B said...

Great tutorial. I love the layers.