First a heads up: We will be making these at November's craft night next Tuesday. You should come. Please RSVP here.
Mini dioramas can be as complex and crazy, or as old school (elementary school, I mean) as you'd like. I knew I wanted mind to involve woodland creatures or mermaids. But I chose woodland creatures because I recently saw an amazing mermaid creation that I basically wanted to recreate. Not cool, self.
There are lot of ways to create these. I love the compact ones in altoid tins where you're basically layering paper on each other until you reach the edge. Mine is more of a tribute to the ones we did in school with a background and things in the foreground.
Follow along, so you can see how I made mine. Feel free to copy it or make your own adjustments. Obviously your box is going to be a different size and have slightly different requirements. I have included a printable of the shrubs, tree and animals for you to print out and color, if you'd like.
Printable Woodland Flora and Fauna
A Small Box
Pen & Pencil
Coloring Tools (Colored Pencils, Markers, Paint, Crayon, etc)
Bits of Cardboard & Cardstock
Optional: Tape, hole punches, glitter, stickers, stamps, etc.
Optional Step 0: Make A Plan
Some people are not planners. I drew out a little sketch of what I wanted and then drew some little characters (fox and squirrel) and still had to go backwards a little when I realized it needed a moon. But if you know what you want to include, it's easiest to start at the back and work your way forward. It's not the end of the world if you have to stick your fingers back behind things to add something here or there though.
Step 1: The Background
I took some paper scraps that I had lying around that looked vaguely night-like. I didn't want something too dark like actual night would be. And then I cut magazine scraps to look like a horizon and vaguely green earth. If you want anything to overlap, glue that down first. Draw anything you'll want on your background before gluing it down, trust it me it works better that way.
Step 2: Make Your Characters
Whatever you want to fill in your box. Draw it, color it, cut it out. If you're printing out my creatures, print them on cardstock so they'll stand up easily. If you're cutting out things from magazines, glue them onto cardstock or other thick paper.
If you look at my photo above, the trees and shrubs have white tabs on the bottom and side that will get glued to the side and bottom of my box. I colored in the part of the shrub that I glued in before I thought about it.
To make your little creatures stand up, cut a small rectangle of cardstock and fold it in half. One half glue to the back of the creature. The other half will be glued to the inside bottom of the box.
This is my little fire. I cut out some vaguely flame-shaped pieces from both orange and red papers and then layered them with a bit of cardboard in between them to get some depth. Then I stuck a folded piece of cardstock behind it so they will get glued in the same way that the squirrel and fox do.
If you are looking closely at my diorama, you'll notice that I have a little grey fire pit around my flames. I made that by cutting a rectangle of grey card stock, folding it in half long-ways and snipping the bottom half long-ways up to the fold. Then when I bent it into a curve, I was left with a bunch of tiny tabs to glue down and keep a semi-circle of grey paper standing.
Cut out a moon too, if you'd like. I used two circles of the same paper with a bit of cardboard inbetween them for depth.
Step 3: Put It All Together
Remember to start at the back and work your way forward. I should have started with the moon, then the fox, then the fire pit, then the fire (the fire pit tabs need to go underneath the fire tab), then the shrubs, then the squirrel, then the tree.
Dab a bit of glue and hold each tab down for a moment or two until it sets. It's very sad to not have let something dry enough before you move on and end up disturbing it with your next piece.
Also, I recommend holding a few pieces in place at a time so you can get a feel for how they'll look together before you glue a piece on.
Most importantly, have fun with it. It's intended for silliness, not perfection.