Dioramas and Minature Landscapes: Rocks and Rock Faces

When I was a kid I learned how to create shoebox dioramas where you would look through a small hole in a shoebox and inside see a scene that tells a story. I loved doing this so much I started doing it at home, no assignment required. I didn’t have a lot of shoe boxes so I would build one, show it off then tear it apart and start again.

As an extension to my love of dioramas and story telling in three dimensions I would constantly be blown away by dioramas in museums and distinctly remember the ones in a museum that was showing an scene depicting native American life in the pacific northwest. The scene had canoes and shelters and it looked so real to me I couldn’t stop staring. I continued to really love dioramas and especially ones that had water elements in them because it always blew me away for some reason, I guess I could just imagine myself in them and it was a bit like flying over high above these lands. I just recently just starting thinking about how much I loved dioramas and wanted to know how the water effects were actually done so I started researching this and discovered all of these people out there making incredibly realistic scenes as if by magic. It was like watching someone paint and all of the sudden the picture pops into view from what appeared to be abstract shapes.

After reading a few books and watching some videos I decided I would have to start creating my own dioramas but to start with I would experiment with each element by itself.

First up is some rocks and rock walls.

I got a mold for some rocks online and immediately started mixing and pouring my hydrocal plaster to get my rocks.

I started with my nice new plaster casts of rocks.

I diluted my highlight colors and got my rock face ready

Adding in my highlight colors

Post wash, just look at those rock walls!!!

Oh and lets not forget our other rock friends

These practice rocks turned out great, now I need to build up a landscape to attach them to and go to the next step of adding ground cover and making a realistic scene.

Stay tuned for more diorama fun in the very near future!

Character Float/Walking Mechanism

This a mechanism that I designed for a character that would walk towards you then turn around and walk away then turn back towards you and then continue walking.

The top part of the sketch shows a top down view with the center electrified rail that also acted as a guide. The center rail would have a pinch roller motor that would be using friction to move the figure forward.

The ends of the rail are rounded so when it reaches the end it just swivels and then begins to travel around and back down the rail like the arrows indicate.

The figure on top of this would probably have to be light and there might need to be some tweaks to the width of the disk that the figure rides on to get it just right. I imagine a ghost with a  flowing dress would look amazing on this thing or if you want to make it awesome for a zombie you could add some swivel action and make the waist down blocked from vision and add some bumps to have the end of the base to roll over for a good walking hobbling action.

Pinky Demon Animatronic Armature

When I had a garage I had sketched out this pinky demon animatronic I wanted to make.

The animatronic armature would be on a base with a post and multi-axis barring at the top that would allow horizontal and vertical motion at a point about waist level.

The rod on pivot would jut forward to a mouth control to open and close the jaw pneumatically.

The idea was to maximize the free animation by attaching a pneumatic cylinder that could move the pivot rod the horizontal and vertical axis while keeping the front and back legs stationary.

This would give the illusion that the arms and legs are the ones providing the movement and if we did the joints on these correctly the motion would be incredibly convincing.


Here are my conceptual sketches for the armature I was going to build. I had learned to weld during this time so all the materials planned to be steel tubing.


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