Any suggestions on how to make a small city ruin?


Master Member
I want to make a small diorama base for some T2 endoskeleton models. Last time I tried this (with a much bigger version) it didn't look right. I used paper mach'e for the dirt...but after painting it, it just looked like mud. And the building ruins didn't look right either. I added them first, then built the ground around it....but the building ruins didn't "sit" right. They looked like they had been stuck in place by hand...exactly how they had been...but not the look I wanted. Plus...whenever I tried just dumping misc. material around to simulate building rubble that went flying and landed on top of one another....same effect. And even if you could get it to look do you get it to stay put?? You have to glue it all down or else the whole thing is gone after it's moved once. But you have to move each piece to glue it all down....and round and round we go. Help!


Sr Member
Firstly go get Shep Paynes book on dioramas. Also Stan Catchpools book too. Let me think Theres another guy Ray something orother, he makes historical dioramas using "expanded" airfix multipose figures. I think thats him...ring a bell with anyone?
Then go get a big can of Durhams Water putty and some celuclay.
Use it...have fun..

Ok its not that simple, but those books/authors have helped millions of modelers on their way to developing their own building style.

Personaly since I like to work in much larger scales, like 1/6 I like my building materials to be lightweight and easy to carve....Urethane sign foam. Like florist foam only different.

I got a handfull of some sculpture foam scraps, also known as sign foam. It's used in those nice 3D signs that look like sandblasted wood.
The examples below were an excercise testing out the materials.
Not just a carving excercise but also a painting excercise.
All these pieces took no more than a few hours all together.

All the paint effects are achieved with spraypaint.

A base coat of flat black is sprayed, making shure that all the recesses get filled.
Then You go in with the next darker color you wish to use and spray at an angle. so as not to get into the cracks, but instead hitting it across the surface.

Once the general base scheme is up, you come in with a highlight color and dust the highest spots and parts that stick out simulate parts that get the most sun.

Then when you got it looking close to what you want just go back and forth with all the colors, "dusting" the a distance to achieve varying levels of subtle highlight and shadow changes.

I call this one..."Atlantis"..LOL

I got a little crazy with the cracks...but hey thats what test runs are for.


Ahh the Faithfull old brick wall, a mainstay for many a diorama regardless of era or genre.

This ones seen better days. I tried to make it look like it had a few spots where things were bolted to it and fell or were torn off, and a spot where a pipe or conduit had run through at one time.


Heres a section of curb, cobblestone and concrete. I want to do a full street like this with sewer lids and drains...Should be fun.


A note about this particular material is that it's only good for larger scale models due to the "grain" of the foam. It would have to be sealed and surfaced to hide the grain for smaller scales.

A note on attaching pieces. I generaly use pins to anchor the pieces in place and good old elmers glue.

I'll post more on some other techniques later if no one else chimes in.



New Member
Hobby stores that sell model trains and "Warhammer" will have all sorts of material to make terrain tables for gaming or dioramas. There is also a magazine called "White Dwarf" that has tutorials on certain features each issue.

Jedi Dade

Master Member
there are LOADs of diarama information avaialbe through model train sources - most good hobby shops that carry model trains will also have a good selection of terrain, trees, gravel, buildings etc in just about any scale you could want.

this is an online place I use for a lot of my modeling supplies - they also carry a good amount of model train stuff

if nothing else it will give you a good idea of what's avaialble. I'm not sure exactly what the scales are for model trains, they have numbers like HO, N and stuff but its a place to start.

Jedi Dade
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