Nashorn in Scratchbuilt Late Winter Diorama

After deciding to paint up my Nashorn in winter camo, I needed a winter scene to show it off. I’ve only built one other winter dio (a few pictures here) and that was an urban setting. This time I wanted something in the countryside.

I’ve been a bit disappointed with attempts to make pine trees so this time I chose to start with a commercial offering: Woodland Scenics Realistic Tree Kit.

Out of the box, the trees still look very toy like but they are a great base to build off. The armatures are flexible and there’s a good range of sizes and plenty of clumping flock in the box. The US Infantry figures are for another project.

I had a rough idea for layout. I wanted the Nash travelling along a snowy, muddy road surrounded by snow covered trees and, as I had some left over from another project, some water. I quickly sketched out a plan using the Nash for scale.

This gave me a good indication as to the overall size of the diorama. I cut out some rough shapes to bulk up the base and give me areas of different hight.

I roughly sculpted the culvert runoff and sketched in where the pipe would go. Nothing is glued down at this point.

I used Titebond 2 to attach the main components to the base. Held in place using pins driven in at an angle to help pull the pieces together.

While that was drying (doesn’t take long), I worked on the culvert wall and pipe. I cut a suitable piece of stonework textured plastruct and hunted around for something suitable to use as a pipe…

I cut off the back off the Kinder egg and the lid and fitted it into a space I cut in the wall.

Once everything had dried, I gave everything apart from the culvert a coat of ready mixed polyfilla and PVA to seal. I did get a few splashes on the wall, but it’s easy to clean off once it’s dry.

Once this had dried, I filled any gaps (particularly around the culvert pipe) with Sqadron white putty. Open a window, this stuff stinks.

I now started to build up the details, starting with the rocks around the culvert outlet. I used flakes of slate and tried to arrange them in a natural formation.

I filled any gaps with PVA and sand. I also coated the culvert bottom in sand too.

Small pieces of cat litter were strategically placed and held in place with PVA.

I finished up with a few more larger rocks to balance the right hand side.

While this was trying, I turned my attention to the trees. The armatures in the packet look a little uninspiring…

Until you give them a twist! As the plastic is moulded over a wire armature, the trunk stays twisted and your branches stick out with a much more realistic spread.

I used the white putty to add random texture to the branches.

Once this had tried I gave them a good coating of hairspray and sprinkled them with 5mm paintbrush bristles.

I gave them another coat of hairspray to seal them and then turned my attention back to the base now it had dried.

I dried used compost as my main scatter material. It contains roots and small stones which are perfect for adding detail in 1/72.

This stage can get a little messy…

Once the PVA had dried, I took it outside and gave it an undercoat of car primer to seal everything in.

I also undercoated the pine trees at the same time.

I preshaded around the joins and shadows and added the trees to check I’d made enough. It looks like a scene from a post apoc movie!

I preshaded the trees black and then airbrushed red/brown onto the trunks.

And then gave them a light drybrush with Tamiya light deck tan.

Time to give them some bulk. I applied superglue along the tops of most of the branches and rolled the trees in the clumping flock. I broke up the clumping flock to make sure I didn’t pick up any overscale lumps.

Doesn’t take long to get a batch done.

Next, I gave them a blast of hairspray and sprinkled a little flock over the tops of the trees to vary the texture a little. Another coat of hairspray to seal and I took them outside for some daylight shots.

Much better than my previous attempt, but still missing something. I think the clump foliage is a too dense. I’ll keep experimenting…

Back to the base. I mixed a dark brown wash and applied it to the earth areas.

And airbrushed on a few patches of lighter brown.

Next I applied a black acrylic wash to the rocks.

Waited for it to dry, and then drybrushed with progressively lighter greys.

I drybrushed the river bed. Brushing with the flow of water from the pipe.

Time to work on the road. I roughed up the surface and then applied a thick layer of ready mixed polyfilla and paint. The mud will be much darker than this eventually.

I dragged bits of wood through the polyfilla as it dried to give the impression of passing vehicles and imprinted the Nash tracks.

I embedded a few rocks in the mud and rusted up the culvert pipe a little.

I tried out the foliaged trees and Nash to see how the whole composition was coming together. So far so good…

I continued to work on the mud as it dried.

And added a few bits of stowage to the roadside. I’d removed the trees and left toothpicks in their place so I can still get around.

Once the mud had dried, I applied a few coats of black acrylic wash and left it to dry.

I mixed up some forest scatter and glued it around the tree trunk bases and other areas where the snow had melted or not settled.

And then I added various type of static grass clumps. The idea being these would poke up above the snow.

I gave the mud and river bed a thick gloss varnish.

And hotglued a damn to the front to stop any leaks. Or so I thought…

I used Woodland Scenics Realistic Water and filled in the stream and pools in the muddy tracks.

And the damn broke 🙁

So I filled it again (thinking that any gaps it previously leaked out of would be filled now) and it held!

Here’s a shot of the puddles in the muddy road.

I’d ordered some new snow flock for this project. This stuff comes from Serious Play – they have an ebay store. It’s the first time I’d used this flock so what follows is more of a ‘this is what happened’ than ‘this is what you should do’ 😉

First I brushed on some watered down pva and sprinkled on a little of the snow. It’s made of tiny white fibres that clump together like soft snow.

I was after a wet looking snow, so after a bit of experimentation I found adding more watered down pva after you sprinkled allows me to mould the snow a little and broke up the clumps to make it look a bit more like wet snow.

I continued to work the snow until I was happy. You can see the tiny fibers here. They are easy to blow away and only stick to the pva, but they get *everywhere*

I used the same technique on the trees, making sure the snow only settled on the tops of the foliage.

Next I worked on the retaining wall – it’s looking a bit flat. A streaks of pigment (which I also dotted around the undergrowth to break up the tones) got it looking weather beaten.

The water had dried now, so I applied a few streaks of Water effects, moulded with a cocktail stick.

I muddied up the tracks and running gear of the nash with the same pigments I’d used one the wall and base.

And base coated the stowage.

I added a few clumps of underbrush made from vulcanised horsehair around a few of the trees. This is superglued in place and then teased with a pair of tweasers once dry. I added a few clumps of tall grass around the waters edge too.

And the base was done. The next day was a glorious spring day so I took it outside for some daylight shots. Learned a lot on this build. And it’s given me the drive to try a post apoc one soon!

Materials

 

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