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Treatise on dioramas....

March 31 2002 at 9:58 AM
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I was perusing through an old IPMS UPDATE magazine (Vol. 18 #6, May-June 1983) and I came across an interesting The Armored Column article discussing dioramas.
The writer discusses how dioramas are one of the more controversial aspects of armor modeling (even back than?!). He states that in consensus, a good diorama tells a story and is not just "a collection of model tanks and figures haphazardly arranged on a bit of scenery". He goes "one step further though".
A real good diorama creates an atmosphere. Too many dioramas lacked something! He felt that many dioramas "fail to capture a sense of place and time"... a sense of place and time. Ways to create a sense of place and time are to:
Pay attention to architecture. Such as no US telephone poles in Ukraine, no German style buildings in eastern Poland or Italy. No Illinois, USA white-picket fences in Stalingrad.
Do some "period research" such as photo books from a library. Know what kind of shrines, signposts used in an area.
Incorporate civilians into a diorama. "Civilians didn't all disappera with war. Civilains in "folk dress" cerainly give a sense of place and time.
Be carefull of equipment as well. No King Tigers in North Afrika or Dunkirk 1940; or Pz 38(t)in the Ardennes 1944-45. Or no gray Pz IV H in Normandy, 1944. No Elephant, Pz IV and Tiger in one battle scene as all usually served in different units.
Despite the article being 19 years old, this article is great and as pertinent today as in 1983. The author is some young guy in a tank helmet named Steve Zaloga. This guy showed some promise. Wonder what he's doing these days? :-}

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Diorama atmosphere and other thoughts

April 1 2002, 11:24 PM 

I haven't read the original article in the magazine, but I totally agree with the above.

I think that historical accuracy and correctness is just the starting point of a diorama. It is not enough, and more is needed like the atmosphere mentioned in the article.

But how do you create atmosphere? What makes an atmosphere? Is it the figures? The little detail like a dog sniffing at a tree or a dropped empty food can or a newspaper blown by the wind? Is it the traffic signs? The architecture? Foliage? Or perhaps the overall layout?

This paves way to a second question: What is THE minimum for a diorama? How small can a diorama be? What must be present? What all things can you strip away and still retain a good story? A plain vehicle with a base is not a diorama (at least in my opinion). Are the figures essential (they could be inside that tank or inside the house)? But buildings are not present everywhere, and flora is at minimum in the desert. What's left? Or is there something that can't be left out?

In my opinion a good dio is a small one, barely containing the minimum required. Nothing too much, but nothing missing. Just the story and the atmosphere. Wish I'd knew how to achieve that

Well, just some thoughts.
I'm now building my first dio and start getting more and more interested in this dio thing....


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Warren Jones
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Diorama Atmosphere

April 2 2002, 11:27 PM 

I once saw a diorama win first place which really got my attention:

The base was the size of a cigarette package. There was a mound of dirt on it. A post was sticking out of the ground. It had bullet holes and rope hanging from it. It was called "The post".
It one first place. You just never know. The piece had atmosphere in a strange sort of way...Cheers.


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