Orangeville, ON (James Doan) Too often when setting out to build a diorama, the novice modeller will find it difficult to source suitable material to complete their project. Here are some simple solutions for a variety of display problems.

While it can be tempting to use real stones and pebbles as groundwork in your diorama, it is easier and quicker to portray scale gravel or rocks with cat litter. Light gray in colour, it requires no paint to look natural. The texture will, however, readily accept any type of paint to give extra detail to your landscape.

Don’t use beach sand as scale sand because it is too coarse. Fine HO scale railroad ballast can be used for this purpose. This ’sand’ can be secured to a base using either a spray glue or a thick coat of clear flat paint.

The model train section in your hobby shop contains some great items for dioramas. Dollhouse supply stores also carry useful items. Always check the scale size of any item before placing it in a diorama.

Maintaining a well-stocked supply of sheet plastic in different thicknesses and surface textures is always handy for constructing diorama settings.

Chartpak graphic tape, found in art supply stores, works well to simulate parking lot lines for your automobile displays.

While still in the ‘parking lot’, for a tire-worn effect, wipe artist’s charcoal with a paper towel on the pavement area of your diorama, then buff the area. Dry brushing with pastel pencil shavings can also help. Use sparingly and remember to place the wear patterns in areas not to be covered by your models.

Suitable for either automotive, military or nautical scenes – formed, folded and painted aluminum foil makes a great scale tarp. The foil will easily drape and match contours of blocks to represent containers or spare model bodies to represent vehicles.