A long time ago, I started a small diorama series with the purpose of showing how I made the bases for my dioramas. This article is kind of the next step, but with the addition of a product that I have discovered in the meantime.
The previous installments was focused on the Woodland Scenics products, which are really good, but somewhat difficult to come by in Denmark where I live. The product is NOCH modelling compound (NOCH #60920). It is a plaster that you can use as a foundation for your landscape.
Normally you would spread it over the NOCH landscape crepe paper (NOCH #60840), but in my case I spreaded it over the existing Woodland Scenics plaster cloth base. Normally, the plaster cloth is strong enough in itself, but since the diorama had been in storage for so long, it needed some additional strength. The modelling compound was perfect for this.
Working With The NOCH Modelling Compound
The modelling compound is an awesome product. You have about 10 - 15 minutes working time, so try and mix small batches. It mixes very easy, and you can adjust the amount of water and plaster until you get a mix that you are satisfied with.
The consistency of the modelling compound needs to be creamy, meaning not runny, but not too strong to hold itself either. Somewhere in between.
You spread the compound using a moist brush. When the compound dries it will have a somewhat rough texture that, when painted, looks like dirt.
On my diorama, I have added a retaining wall. I thought it would be a nice touch. The retaining wall is made from a NOCH hard foam wall (NOCH #58110). I simply cut the wall to fit. While working with the plaster, I made sure to keep the wall clean. This was easy, I simply used a wet paintbrush and brushed the plaster of, in case some of it got stuck there.
After the work with all the plaster is done, I painted the wall using NOCH acrylic sprays
Painting The Diorama Base
For the retaining wall, I used a black as the primer, and a bit of gray from one side, and a bit of brown from the other side. As a final touch, I drybrushed the wall using ivory (NOCH #61191).
When sitting in the naked landscape, the wall does not look like much, but do not let that fool you...
...it will shine when you start to paint the surrounding landscape.
Now the time has come to paint the base. I did this in a previous installment, but fixing the diorama base has covered all the initial work.
I normally paint the base using Woodland Scenics Earth Undercoat (Woodland Scenics #C1229, NOCH #96131). This is an amazing colour, and it works very well.
This time, I wanted to try something different. I used a mixture of the two matte brown colours that you can get from NOCH (#61189 dark brown, #61193 brown). I find that using the two on different spots and some times mixing them, gives a nice earthy texture.
When all the paint has dried, I give the base a drybrush with the ivory colour again. This gives the base som texture, and it allows for small spots of dirt to be visible without looking like painted plaster.
I have now started to decorate the diorama using different landscaping materials. This is also my venture into using static grass, so I am trying out some of the techniques for doing that. So far I am happy with the result.
I use a variety of NOCH and Woodland Scenics products. Mainly I use the NOCH static grass and some of the Woodland Scenics static grass. I use a lot of Woodland Scenics fine turf, coarse turf and foliage to create the illusion of small plants and bushes growing in between the grass.
If you want to try out some new ideas for your diorama base, give the NOCH modelling compound a try. I think you will like it. You can of course combine it with the Woodland Scenics plaster products, it works great for blending things like a retaining wall.