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First a build up the form of the landscape roughly with styrofoam. This I glue to the base using white glue. Also using white glue when layering the styrofoam. Which sometimes needed.
Next I cover the styrofoam with plaster bandage with two layers smothing the surface with my finger while its still wet to avoid having the netpattern show. Its easy if your cut the plaster bandage with a scissor into credit card size pieces and apply them like patches. Leave it to dry over night.
At this stage you may choose what material to use. You can put on a thin layer of Cellyclay, plaster or spackle, clay etc of your choice. Perhaps only put on white glue and sprinkle sand, rock, plaster etc over it, depending on what scene your creationg and what you like to work with.
This method is cheap and makes the diorama light. It also speeds up the drying time as there are no build ups of thick layers. Espially when using clays that could be very expensive.
Also have in mind if youre going to have a tank in a type of material that shrinks a bit when drying, like Celluclay, cover the tracks with clingfilm and dont remove it before its completly dry. Its also good to wiggle on it now and then if you like to be able to remove it afterwards.
The best thing in my opinion is to finnish the tank more or less. Then colour the groundmaterial and let the groundmaterial glue the tank to the base.