28mm ACW Confederate Cavalry Diorama – Part 2

With my holiday looming I finally managed to complete this diorama and without rushing it. When I return from a holiday I’m usually full of new ideas so I was keen to clear the work bench before I go.

Not sure there is a lot to say about this one. Overall I’m pretty pleased with it and broadly speaking managed to create the scene I was after. The figures were all from the ACW range produced by Dixon Miniatures (I wonder if they will ever get to see what I do with the figures I have bought from them?). Other than some minor adjustments to each of the horses to free their legs from metal grass tufts used to keep them on their bases they are as purchased.

One of the things I like about Dixon’s is they sell their figures individually. A lot of manufactures tend to sell in bundles which is OK but I usually find I’m only really interested in one or two figures and the rest end up unused in my bit box. Just like buying bundles of socks or pants from M&S, there is always a pair or two that are naff which you never wear!

Images of the diorama below, starting with a few progress photos and ending with the final model. Hopefully my holiday will provide an opportunity to improve my photography skills.





28mm ACW Conderate Cavalry Diorama – Part 1

Having completed my WW1 diorama I now find myself returning to the Old West, or to be more accurate the American Civil War.  The weather here in good “Old Blighty” is typical for the summer which is to say that it is once again raining in England.  Ideal for modelling I hear you say, so thought I but alas it is the school holidays and the family have other ideas.  She who must be obeyed won over and thus progress on the new diorama is slower than anticipated.  I digress.

This diorama is inspired by figures sold separately or as a diorama by Andrea. Andrea Miniatures produce fantastic figures, mostly in 54mm scale, which are priced accordingly, which is to say they are pretty expensive.  Don’t get me wrong I am happy to spend money on my hobby and I do (no dearest, these were a bargain and cost very little for how good they are) but on this occasion I thought I would try to do my own version using 28mm Dixon Miniature ACW figures.  They have a good range of figures for this period and I was able to find what I was looking for with only minor adjustments being necessary.

Base work needed to be done first as positioning of the figures was key so I set about gathering the necessary materials – slate chippings from my drive, dirt dust from the road outside my house, static grass, dried grass from Dartmoor, PVA, water, Milliput and a few minor scenic bits from my modelling drawer and off course paint. Ordinarily I wouldn’t bother to list the items I use, not that it’s a secret but because I’m sure most people have a good idea of what they need.  No, the only reason for listing the items is it never ceases to amaze me that from such an odd array of crap items it is possible to produce something that looks like a reasonably natural landscape.

Enough chat, some work in progress photo’s.  Hopefully I’ll have the whole thing done before I go on holiday in two weeks time.









Off The Work Bench – American Civil War 28mm Diorama

Much of which I could say about this diorama has already been covered in earlier posts under the header “On The Work Bench” so I wont bore anyone by making further reference to making the tree, the covered bridge and the small section of river.  That said more than happy to answer any questions on the subject.

The diorama itself is meant to depict confederate infantry men making way for the limber coming through and hopefully that comes across.  The figures are once again all from Dixon Miniatures and apart from adding harnessing to the horses and limber are as purchased.

Assembly on this scale and with quite a few pieces proved a little tricky but I got there in the end! Various scenic details were added, most notably the grass which was applied using a static grass applicator.



On The Work Bench – Flat Bed River

My American Civil War diorama, when complete, aims to show a six-horse Confederate limber and cannon having crossed a river via a covered bridge.  A group of infantry men are standing either side of the road making way for the limber team to ride on through.

I have completed a tree for the diorma, the bridge and most of the figures and horses.  It was time to work on the base, specifically the small section of river which needed to be created.

My base was slightly modified by adding some wooden quadrant to all four sides.  This was done to raise the edges of the base and to give depth for the river and its banks to be made.  Filler, scraps of wood and whatever else was lying around was used to bring the base, with the exception of the river, to the level of the newly added quadrant.

The area which would become the river bed was then painted black.  This was done purely as a precaution just in case anything showed through at a later stage when it would have been too late to do anything about it.  Using a variety of materials – small bits of stone and gravel, cat litter and anything else rock like – I created the banks of the river.  Some pieces of fallen tree were added too to add a little more interest.

The river bed and bank were then painted using oil paints diluted slightly with white spirit.  Black was used to depict the bottom and therefore the deepest part of the river and then I used burnt umber, burnt sienna and raw sienna as as I worked my way from the bottom of the river bed and up the sides of the bank.  The oil paints blend well and dry a little quicker when used with white spirit.

Once dried the various “rocks” on the river bed and along the river bank, together with the pieces of fallen tree, were dry brushed to bring out detail and shading.  The next step was to add the “water”.  For this I use a Woodland Scenics product called Realistic Water, a silicone product which dries clear. Pending the depth of your river it is best to build up in layers allowing each one to dry before adding more “Realistic Water”. It does take quite a while to dry and is often best left to do so over night.

Having added the “Realistic Water” to the desired depth my next step was to add movement to the river.  If you only want to create the effect of a mill pond then movement is less critical but for a flowing river it’s a must.  Woodland Scenics do have products which you can buy to help achieve this but these can be pretty expensive to buy in the UK and besides there are other ways of doing it.  My preferred method is to simply take an old paint brush (you can use other things instead) and rough up the silicone a bit before it has gone off completly hard.  This does of course mean keeping an eye on it but as it does take a long time to dry so you only need to check after several hours and not every few minutes.  The aim of this process is to create ridges in the silcone to simulate water movement.  You do not need to go deep into the silicone but you do need to go with the flow of your river and not across. Once done leave to dry completely.

When completly dry I used to white oil paint to dry brush the ridges of the silicone. It’s best to go sparingly and add more as you think you need it.  If all goes well your river now looks like it’s flowing as the highlighted ridges look like white water.

Below are a few pictures of the various stages referred to above.  Images of the completed diorama will be posted soon.

On the Work Bench – New England Style Wooden Bridge

Work continues on my American Civil War  diorama, a feature of which is a New England Style wooden Bridge.  The bridge is based on an image I found online albeit that the “real” bridge and river were wider. Nature has few space constraints but alas my diorama base does so it was necessary to construct a shorter bridge!

The bridge itself was constructed using wooden coffee stirrers to make the base and sides, match sticks to make the front and back trim and cardboard to make the wooden shingle roof.  The finished bridge was then painted using a variety of oil based washes. For further details and information on construction and painting methods please refer to my “Building Projects” section.

Below are a few images of the bridge during construction. My next step is to work on the river, more of which in my next post.