Diorama Tutorials

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

Written by Bill Murphy

For presentations and proposals, students and professionals are often required to create dioramas. These 3D miniature scenes are perfect for representing a historical moment or conveying an idea in a realistic and spatially-accurate manner.

Many detail-oriented people also create dioramas as a hobby. Now, because it requires a lot of precision, patience and manual ability, making dioramas can be a daunting task for beginners. However, with some practice, most people will be able to make beautiful dioramas in no time.

A good place to begin learning the art of diorama-making may be the creation of trees. Diorama trees are relatively easy to create, and making them will help you get acquainted with the basics of diorama-making. What is more, making diorama trees will get your creative juices flowing, preparing you for bigger diorama-related endeavors in the future. In order to help you take that first step, this tutorial will show you how to make diorama trees like a pro.

The pics and info we used are from Luke Towan’s excellent series of videos on YouTube. You can support Luke on Patreon.

What You Will Need to Correctly Follow This Tutorial

In order to follow this step by step tutorial, you will need to use the following items:

  • A medium roll of 28-gauge florist wire.
  • A bottle of latex rubber.
  • Baking paper.
  • A few small and medium-sized brushes.
  • A heating lamp.
  • A small bottle of tacky craft glue.
  • Woodland Scenics static grass flock (one flask).
  • Woodland Scenics coarse turf (one flask).
  • Dirt texture powder.
  • Model fruits or flowers (optional).
  • Brown primer (one spray can).
  • Earth-colored acrylic paint.
  • Contact adhesive (one spray can).
  • Plaster of Paris.
  • Air-brush (brown paint).

Step by Step Instructions For Making Diorama Trees

By following these instructions, you will be able to create realistic and beautiful trees for your diorama:

1. Cut the Wire

The first thing you will have to do is to take the wire and cut it into several evenly-sized pieces. The size will depend on the size you want for your trees. However, anything between 13 and 15 inches should be fine. To make a single tree, you will need 15 to 20 pieces of wire.

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

2. Bundle the Wires Together

Once you have cut all the pieces of wire necessary for one tree, bundle them together tightly and evenly. Next, bend the bundle of wires in half and give the result a twist at the bottom.

If you do it correctly, you should get a loop of about two or three inches at the bottom and several loose wire tips on top. Keep in mind that the loop will be the roots of the tree. Meanwhile, the loose wire tips will become the tree’s branches.

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

3. Split, Twist and Repeat

Next, take the end of the bent wire bundle and split the loose wire tips in half. It’s not necessary to be too precise while doing this. Then, take one half and twist over and over until you get one and a half or two inches of branch. Repeat this process with the other half.

After that, split into two halves the loose wire tips that will be protruding from one of the two branches you should have been left with. Again, twist both halves separately until you get a long enough branch, always leaving a good amount of loose wire to split. Repeat this process and you will get various branches and sub-branches.

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

4. Make Loops to Create New Branches

By repeating the previous step you will be gradually left with fewer and fewer wires. Eventually, you will only have two. When this happens, bend these wires to create new smaller loops.

After that, repeat the twisting process to get new, smaller sub-branches stemming from bigger branches. As it gets more minute, the process can become quite difficult and patience-testing. However, with some practice, you will be able to get through it pretty quickly.

If you want even more sub-branches, you can twist an already-existent loop inwards to create a jellybean-like shape. This will provide two sections you can twist instead of only one. Continue this process until you have enough branches and sub-branches.

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

5. Twist Again to Create the Roots

At this point, you are through with the tree’s branches and ready to create its roots. The method for doing this is the same as with the branches. However, you should take into account that the roots of the tree need to be shorter and less entangled.

Start the process by pulling apart some wires from the root loop. Then, twist as bend it as you did with the branches. You can use pliers to make this process easier and faster. Once you have twisted a root, cut the loop and move on to the next one.

Once you are done, spread them flat on a flat surface. One that is done, finish the structure by twisting and manipulating the branches and roots in order to make them look more natural.

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

6. Coat the Tree

Now that the structure of the tree is ready, it’s time to begin the next stage of the process. In order to hide all the twisted wire and give the tree a smoother look, coat it with latex rubber. When you do this, use baking powder to prevent the latex rubber from sticking to your workspace. In order to complete the coating, you will probably have to apply two or more layers of latex rubber.

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

However, it is possible to get a good enough coating with a single layer of latex rubber. If you apply it correctly, the rubber will do a great job of filling in the gaps and covering the wiry appearance of the tree structure.

In addition to this, this coating material will help the paint stick better to the structure of the tree. Another great advantage of using this product is that it is flexible, allowing you to bend the branches of the tree even after it is finished. After coating the tree, let it dry overnight.

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

7. Create Smaller Branches With Static Grass(optional)

If you want your diorama trees to look extra-detailed, try using static grass and some glue. First, use a brush to apply tacky craft glue to random sections of the branches (not the trunk or roots) of the tree.

Then, pepper the static grass over the tree for it to stick. Alternatively, you can dip the tree upside-down into a container filled with the static grass. Blow away the excess and let everything dry for an hour.

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

8. Undercoat the Tree

To give the tree and undercoat, use a brown primer of a dark shade. Carefully coat the entire tree. Use a generous amount of primer. Do not forget to undercoat the underside of the tree. Once that is done, let the primer dry for 20 minutes to half an hour.

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

9. Paint and Highlight the Tree

At this point, you are ready to paint the tree. Find a dark brown acrylic paint of your liking. Alternatively, you can mix other colors together in order to get a specific shade of brown. Paint the tree in its entirety.

Next, add highlights by dry brushing white paint sporadically over random sections of the tree. If you want to go the extra mile, you can use an airbrush to add some touches of light brown. This will have the effect of dulling out any excess shine and further blending in the highlights.

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

10. Apply Coarse Turf to Create Leaves

After letting the paint dry, it’s time for you to apply coarse turf to the tree in order to create its leaves. Spray contact adhesive on the branches. Be careful not to spray the trunk of the tree. Then, drip the tree upside-down into a container full of coarse turf.

Repeat this process a few times until the braches are nice and covered. Once that is done, stand the tree upright and lightly blow on it to remove the excess coarse turf. Let everything dry.

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

11. Add Fruits or Flowers

After the leaves have dried, spray the tree with contact adhesive again. Then, add the artificial miniature flowers or fruits. Of course, this is optional as no all trees need to have fruits or flowers.

Depending on the density you want to achieve, you can add the ornaments one by one or you can dip the tree directly in a container full of them. If needed, you can use tweezers to take care of details such as relocating or removing unwanted adornments.

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

12. Install the Tree

Finally, the time has come to install your diorama tree. First, apply plaster of Paris onto the surface of the diorama. Use a spatula or similar object to flatten it evenly.

Then, lightly press the tree down on it. Remember that the roots should not be completely buried in the plaster. Instead, they should be visibly protuberant.

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

13. Blend In the Roots of the Tree

Use a soft brush to manipulate and blend in the plaster of Paris around the roots. At the same time, remove the most obvious brush strokes.

Be patient and keep working as the plaster dries. Once it has dried up a bit, the process will get easier and you will be able to have more control.

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

14. Let the Tree Dry

The tree is finished. At this point, there is nothing left to do but to let everything dry overnight. If you want to, you may use a heat lamp or other heat sources to speed up this process.

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

15. Paint the Plaster

Using your favorite shade of brown, paint the plaster around the tree. You can use various shades of brown to create a more realistic shading.

Don’t bother with too many details, though, because you will be using a textured material to cover the area in the next step.

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

16. Cover the Roots

Being this step by mixing some glue with water. Then, apply this watered-down glue to the area around the tree using a brush.

Immediately after, sprinkle the dirt texture powder onto the area, making sure it’s evenly spread. After applying it, you can even out the dirt texture powder using a wet brush. Finally, let everything dry.

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial


Did you enjoy reading this tutorial? Making your own diorama trees can be quite challenging. However, seeing the final product can be incredibly rewarding. What is more, learning how to make diorama trees will help you elevate your dioramas by producing a beautiful and realistic atmosphere.

Do you have any comments or questions regarding this tutorial? If you do, leave a comment in the section down below! Also, please consider sharing this useful tutorial with family members and friends!

How to Make Diorama Trees? Step-by-step Tutorial

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