Diorama Planning


Diorama – Planning

You have built those incredible customs – the muscle car, the hauler unit, the sports car, the convertible conversion – now what do you do with them?

Display case, No! Shelf, No! Diorama – YES!!!

Diorama Defined – A scene layout used for displaying CUSTOMS!!! An alternative to the boring shelf and glass case display. They also make great photography back drops.

Note: This is not just for customs – building a diorama for use with your existing collection is a great way to display these items. Train hobbyists have been doing it for years.

Where do you start?? Why do you do?? Well, like all good customs, a good diorama starts with a plan – a plan that details what you want and acts as an outline to put your diorama display together. When a person says “plan” that can mean so many things. By definition it is a guideline either written or verbal that can be used to implement a project or idea. With that said, it does not have to be difficult but you will need to adjust it to your working style and your goals. We will use a simple planning method for our sample that was adapted from a model train process:
Step One – The Idea: You have made all these customs – how do you want to display them?? Think about common themes throughout your customs –


Do you favor 40s and 50s customs?


Maybe a Police fanatic??


Or a VW fan???

Are they all Rat Rods?? Do you do commercial trucks??? Are they all Muscle cars?? Do you have a couple themes?? Maybe three or four??? This is your start.

Select an idea you can use your existing customs around – this will be the theme for your diorama and the initial beginning point for your plan. You can have one, two or as many themes as you would like. A theme for your plan helps to keep your idea centered and helps to bring unity to your display.

Step Two – The Space: You have rustle through your cars and you have your theme(s), but what do you do now?? A diorama needs a place to sit – since there is some permanence to it, an out of the way area is usually best. Having this in a non-traffic area also prevents accidental things from happening to something you may spend a lot of time developing. Maybe part of the workshop?? Basement corner?? Garage?? Storage shed?? What do you have available?? The selection of the space is critical as it will dictate the size of your diorama and amount of items you will need to complete this project.

Some people approach this step from another direction – “I need xx amount of space” to build a specific dimension diorama. This approach tends to be harder if you have limited space and, obviously, easier if you have access to a large amount of space. Further some find a larger space and start with a smaller layout and leave room for expansion.

Using that space selected, you need to determine what the dimensions of your layout are going to be – a keen measurement will get you quickly there.


Step Three – The Sketch: With measurements at hand, you are ready to start working through your plan. This is a similar process that train hobbyists use to lay track and determine where the key elements of their layout are going to be placed. We recommend graph paper as the measurements can be easily referenced – i.e. one square is one inch as in the sample picture above. appropriate rulers and drawing materials are necessary. It is highly recommneded that you work in pencil initially as this allows you to move or change the plans by easily erasing and without having to redraw your original measurements.

Using your theme, decide what you would like to include in your diorama – For instance, Bill is a VW fan and he also has numerous customs police units in his display case. He has decided his themes will be a VW dealership with a custom shop and a police station. Additionally, he wants to include a gas station for some of the generic customs he wants to display. He has sketched the sample layout above to show the positioning of the key elements as well as his plan for the main road. He contemplated just doing one or the other but having numerous items included offered him different opportunities for his display.

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