The Final Station: the diorama that won the International Modeling Festival Bytom 2024 – construction description

I don’t know how you are, but I have it that with each successive stage of building a diorama, the tension grows more and more so that I can finally see the final result of my work. When it’s a vignette or a not huge diorama, then the period of its construction is not stretched in time. On the other hand, it’s more of a problem when the plan involves a large diorama, and that’s what I recently completed, which took me less than half a year. Thanks to Modellers World, I can write you a few words about its construction and give you a little insight into the creation process.

Table of contents:

best diorama model festival bytom 2024

Diorama planning

Embarking on a new diorama project is always a thrilling adventure for me. The initial spark of an idea sets my mind abuzz, compelling me to meticulously break it down into its smallest components. This, for me, is the exciting first stage of planning. The result of this brainstorming is the transition to the second stage, where I bring the entire layout and individual elements to life on paper. The more detailed the plan, the less daunting the construction process becomes. With a well-crafted roadmap, I can navigate the construction phase with precision and confidence, knowing exactly where each piece fits into the grand design.

Nowadays, we have access to a huge number of figures and accessories, as well as buildings for dioramas. Still, all these are repetitive products, so what to do to make the work unique and unusual? The first thing is to make yourself the buildings or architecture in general, which will be on our diorama. In the work I’m publishing here, the entire train station and platform were made of XPS-polystyrene, balsa, and a material commonly known as hips or polystyrene sheets. Until a few years ago, I couldn’t imagine how I would make a building on my own to look like those from store shelves, but when I acquired my first XPS-polystyrene, it turned out that it’s not that complicated at all, and only takes what one wants to “play” with scale-modeling, which is an idea, patience, and precision. The satisfaction of seeing a unique building, crafted with your own hands, is unparalleled. It is worth mentioning that one XPS-polystyrene is not equal to another. Therefore, following the advice of Mirek Serba, I used XPS-polystyrene Synthos Prime S, which is capably suitable for sculpting it, which I highly recommend.

building a diorama out of XPS-polystyrene

Painting XPS-polystyrene bases for models vs. chemistry

The rule we absolutely must follow when working with XPS-polystyrene is to use a specific chemistry. Any alcohol-based chemistry, etc., will melt the material we are working on, and hours of laborious work will go to the trash (knowledge acquired by own experience, heh…). The paints to use are all kinds of water-based acrylics that do not react with the material. The problem begins when we want to put materials like pigment, sand, or the scales I scattered at my platform on our structure. Adhesives like gravel & sand will mostly destroy XPS-polystyrene. In contrast, water-based adhesives often fail to reduce surface tension and, instead of spreading nicely over the material, create a bubble that sticks to the substrate like mercury. Here, a nod to the Modellers World brand and Solution fluid acrylic adhesive, which spreads well over the XPS-polystyrene and binds the elements or sand without damaging the XPS-polystyrene while leaving no trace of its presence.

The rules I follow when creating my dioramas are to avoid symmetry so that boredom does not blow in. As far as possible, I try to create works in which the ground is not uniform but has a distinct terrain. In the case of my train station, it wasn’t easy to make the terrain diverse, but the fact that a raised platform and underground exit improved the perception of the diorama and gave it a distinct three-dimensionality. To make the work eye-catching, it is essential to take care of the details and their diversity so that the viewer has to spend some time looking at all the nuances and “flavors” on the diorama. It is crucial to create a specific situation or scenario so that the work directly appeals to the viewer and conveys the idea that was born in your head. The figures play a huge role. The key is to match the right figures so they are not monotonous but form one cohesive, dynamic whole and tell a common story. In my dioramas, I often choose to convert figures, which gives them uniqueness and, at the same time, makes it so that I am the one creating the scene rather than having to match the scenery to specific figures.

Selection of paints for diorama for a specific use

When all these steps are behind me and all the work is done, although still disjointed, it is the turn of the long-awaited stage, painting the model. There are as many modelers as there are many tastes and techniques. As for the choice of paints for painting models and dioramas, in my case, the figures are simply acrylic paints and precise brushwork. Buildings and ground are also mostly acrylic paints, while any vehicles or rails are paints dedicated to airbrushing. For vehicles like SU-76M, I used AK RC paints; first I decided to do preshading, then a base color, and finally a fine filter. The next step was to do washes; quick and capital in its result was Oil Wash Black brown from Modellers World, which gave my SU a great color scheme and definitely sped up the process of building the vehicle. Many modelers wonder whether to do the washes themselves. I also do “washes” myself sometimes and have used other manufacturers. However, what stands out about Modellers World’s products in this area is the brilliantly spreading consistency, which I would even say is velvety.

Rust using pigment

Painting behind us, and we have reached the end, where we still have pigments and other sands left ;). According to preference, some like less, others more. In this case, I limited myself to light dusting. The trackbed needed some rusty tarnish, and the pigment I used the most was Old Rust from Modellers World. With it, I treated the tracks and their surroundings, the cars and the roof over the platform, where the pigment was applied both dry and wet. You can judge the effects of these treatments in the photos of the finished diorama.

In a word of the end

It was supposed to be short and to the point …hmm short it didn’t work out, although hopefully to the point. I tried, albeit vaguely, to outline how I see it and what I am working with. In my head a lot of ideas also soon a much smaller vignette will come to the table, which I will try to present to you in more detail in specific steps, techniques used and materials used in its construction. Enjoy watching and until next time ;).

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