Castle Diorama I – The Base


For a while now, I have thought about creating a diorama that would allow me to photograph my O-scale narrow gauge vehicles. Especially the cute litte industrial steam engine deserves a nice base to be photographed upon.

After many weeks of wondering on how such a diorama should look, I finally made up my mind yesterday when I was modelling with my old friend KC.


I wanted to  include a piece of curved track to display narrow gauge rail vehicles on, as well as a road to show road vehicles on. After fiddling around with tracks and vehicles for a while, I decided to make a board of 90 x 45 cm. I’ve built dioramas of this size before, and I think the size is a nice balance between having some space to be creative on as well as being able to handle the finished diorama.

Above is the first test fitting on the board. The lorry is the Mercedes-Benz L 100 I wrote about earlier and the floating ruin on the right is an unfinished small diorama with a tower with a staircase inside. The track is Oe gauge from Peco.

The large size of the baseboard gives me the oppurtunity to build with casts from Hirst Art molds again, just like in the monastery diorama.

I wanted a corner tower with high walls closing off a part of the diorama, so I looked in my collection of books about castles and found some examples to give some inspiration. I’d already decided that diorama would be set somewhere in Germany around 1930 in order to limit how many models I could buy. 🙂


The first castle I came across was Schloss Prunn in Reidenberg,  Bavaria. I like the compact size of the castle, and how the cliff to the right is vertical, a real space-saver on a diorama. 🙂


The second castle was Burg Stolpen in Stolpen, Saxony. On this copper-plate engraving from 1790 the corner tower is prominient, and I would like to achieve something similar on my diorama.

On this image of Burg Kriebstein, also in Saxony, I really like the way the rock and the castle wall are almost organic integrated into each other.


Photo by Jean-Luc Schmitt, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

This final piece of inspiration comes from France, namely Château de Guirbaden in Alsace. It is a nice closeup of an example of the colors of the rock and the wall and the arch on the left is an interesting way to raise the castle above the rock.


Back to the diorama: I have a habit of saving most pieces of styrofoam left over from when buying furniture from IKEA etc. This diorama might be completed using only styrofoam from the IKEA Stockholm bookshelves I bought some months ago:-)

Above I’ve added the first couple of layers to give the diorama some height variation. I am used to building in HO scale, 1:87, so it is important for me to keep in mind during the building proces that this is a new and much larger scale.


After some more styrofoam-gluing, I pulled out my boxes of Hirst Arts casts to see what would fit the corner of the diorama. The tower is the 6″ version, 15 cm in diameter.


I wanted the castle to be raised above the rest of the diorama on a cliff, so I began building a sturdy base of styrofoam for that.


Besides gluing the pieces together, I usually use broken kebab skewers sharpened in one end to keep everything together. I simply push the skewers into several layers of styrofoam from several different angles, which makes the whole thing much more stable.


Here’s an early shot of the railroad crossing the road with the very low castle in the background. 🙂


During the construction, I got the idea to add a cellar or dungeon to the castle, so I left room for it under the styrofoam. Then I cut a piece to cover the top of the cliff to serve as a foundation for the courtyard. The dungeon will be visible from the right side of the diorama, which I hope will be quite a crowd-pleaser, when the diorama is exhibited on model railroad shows. 🙂


A couple of rock face plaster castings from Noch are stading in front of the cliff as a test.

The top of the cliff is not yet glued on, so it will be easier to work on the dungeon. Before stopping for the night, I couldn’t help building the first layers of the castle. Note the pieces of thick styrofoam glued inside the walls to make sure they are straight and equally thick.


So much for a weekend’s worth of diorama work. 🙂

Any comments or ideas so far?


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