Let’s start with the basics. You may be making a mountain diorama for school or because you love nature and wish to decorate your room with it or even for some eco presentation. You may like the look and feel of a piece of land that will always belong to you and you may even use it Law of Attraction-style to draw a piece of land like that to you.
Whatever your reason may be, you need your mountain diorama to be good. It should look solid, be filled with interesting elements, and it should represent your own vision of a perfect wilderness setting.
Supplies You Will Need for Your Mountain Diorama
- One large box lid, plastic bucket lid, wood base or the plastic placeholder guts of any electronics box. It should be large enough to accommodate a lot of activity and interesting formations on your mountainside. It is better to be too big than too small when it comes to dioramas
- Non-sanded grout
- Acrylic paint
- Paper mache or air-dry modeling clay to mold into your mountainsides and large, hilly areas but if you want to make professional diorama we strongly recommend to use styrofoam like this
- Hot Knife
- Glue Loctite’s Power Grab + Caulking gun
- Non-toxic acrylic Waterbase Sealer
- Dust mask
- Rubber gloves
- Real rocks to use for large boulders and small gravel to use for large rocks in your scene
- Some fake trees (you can find some here and here)
- Some additional air-dry modeling clay for a nice, big cave in your mountainside
- Small, woodland creatures you would like prowling around your mountain (here are some to start you out)
- Fake water (we recommend several bottles of Scene-A-Rama realistic water, like what you can find here)
- You can also create fake, cheap water by putting a few drops of blue food coloring into a large amount of Elmer’s glue, pouring and letting it dry. However, this doesn’t look quite as realistic as the Scene-A-Rama products, so we recommend them, instead. Make sure you get enough for your whole project.
Okay, you have all of your supplies for a really badass mountain diorama. Let’s get to building! This is the fun part!
Building Your Mountain Diorama
First, set you large lid on a wide, flat, stable surface like a large dining room table or some area where it’s not likely to get jostled or overturned very easily. Put some newspapers underneath so that you don’t accidentally spill anything on your nice furniture.
2. Foam of your Mountain
Use your styrofoam to form your mountainsides. Be sure to put deep dips in it for your rivers and ponds. Also, remember to use extra material to make a cave in the side of your mountain.
We can easily make mountain more natural by hot knife. Great professional tool with have so many advantages:
- Easy to use
- Cut styrofoam like a butter
- You can use it not only for mountain 😉
So take your styrofoam and cut it on several pieces.
The first piece (bottom of mountain) should be 22 inches base of the mountain chain. Foam for each mountain base is around 7-9 inches (3-4 peices) and other layer should be smaller than base (but don’t make pyramids;))
Glue your mountainsides in place. Allow the glue to bond fully before you try to paint anything or do anything else. You don’t want to mess with perfection.
Recommended glue: Loctite’s Power Grab
Now, we’re getting to the fun part…
4. Cutting by Hot Knife
Take round foam for your knife and start sculpting your future mountain. It would be better if you take picture of mountain to see natural details for more organic results
Result should be like this:
More practice and you’ll get better result than our!
5. Color Your Mountain
Mix your brown paint and non-sanded grount together to form a nice tan. After that take brush start painting your mountain.
Make the first layer more thick! Take more paint for your beautiful mountain 😉
3-4 layers should be enough. Make coffe/tea, relax and just wait when our mold will be dry.
6. Another Color for Your Mountain
Now, cover every other part of your mountain diorama with grey paint. All of the surface area, land, etc. This will give you a nice background color to work with as you add rocks and interesting things to your picture. Use water in bottle + grey acrilic paint
7. Making Snow
Now we have grey mountain and with little brush + acrilic paint (white) can make snow for our mountain.
Don’t forget that there is more snow in the bottom of mountain.
Also you can add another colors for plants, animals etc. We took green color and make some grass. It should be like this:
*You can end your diorama without these steps. If you want to finish go to Step 13.
Next, decide how to add “character” to your mountain by gluing your rocks into place. Don’t add your trees or wildlife yet! We’re still building the foundation of your mountain scene.
Because you painted your tan and green areas first, you will have a really great backdrop behind your rocks. You won’t have to paint behind them and you won’t have to change the color of your rocks. That’s a nice layering system, isn’t it?
Add your rocks in places where you want more bulk, you want to show your river going around them, or you want to hide your cave a little more. Use your rocks as boulders to fill out your mountainside more. Use the tiny bits of gravel to be near the river to be large rocks in your scene. Glue everything into place and sit back to admire the view while your glue dries.
Now you can add your trees! This is the really fun part. Put trees everywhere. Group them in little clusters of two or three. Then, add a random tree here and there to balance out your scene from different angles.
Look at your diorama from different angles. How does it look? Is it as three-dimensional as you would like it to be? Add groups of trees in various locations to fill in holes, to add a tree-ridge to your mountaintop, and to form a little forest near your river or lake.
Now you can paint a little more. It’s really starting to look like a mountain, isn’t it? Before you add your fake water, you should top off your scene with any small paint dabs you need.
Check that your river isn’t too smooth or perfect. Add some green and tan to push it in or out a little bit to make it more uneven.
Do you have some areas where the green is a little too smooth looking? Add some gray and brown paint dabs in those places to make them look rockier. Also, you can transition the color of your rocks down your mountainside by matching each rocks color and dabbing this color of paint near them to form “smaller rocks” in your scene and to make your mountain look less smooth.
When you’re finished with all of that, paint the bottom of your river dark blue, just to add a little extra blue tint to your already blue-tinted water. Do not paint it bright blue! That is too bright and it will look far too fake. Mix some black in with your blue paint and color your river bottom, but only the very bottom.
Now, add your fake water. This part is tricky and you may need to get an adult to help you.
First, scotch tape two small pieces of cardboard to each end of your river so that it doesn’t “flow out” of your riverbed on either end. Next, follow the instructions on your fake water bottle and pour out your fake water. Check that nothing is leaking past your cardboard pieces on either end.
If your river is on even the slightest angle, you may need to tilt your diorama lid and prop it up so that your river bed is horizontal while your fake water dries. Once it is dry, you should be able to simply remove your cardboard pieces from either end. If, however, a little cardboard sticks to your river when you gently separate them out, you can mix some black and blue paint again and simply dye that tiny bit dark blue.
Finally, you can add and glue your animals in place. Make sure that your animals are the correct size for your diorama. If necessary, compare the size of your animals with the size of your trees. They should be half the height of your trees.
Put a bear in your cave and a tiger or lion roaming among your trees. You can have a rabbit or giraffe sipping from the river. Make it as awesome as you want. Once the glue on your animals has dried, you’re done!
13. Final Step
Now spray Non-toxic acrylic Waterbase Sealer and wait when your diorama will dry.
Congratulations! You’ve done your mountain diorama!
(Optional) Ideas to Add to Your Diorama
Different people like different things. You may be more colorful or more monotone in your style. You may like having a background scene so that you can paint the sky. Here are some optional ideas for filling out your mountain diorama even further.
- Add wildflowers. Flowers are tricky because they need to be cut up into small clumps and “sprinkled” over the rocky areas of your scene and displayed in a non-clustered form on the open, flat areas of your mountain.
You will have to get scissors and carefully cut up you diorama wildflowers into small, uneven sprigs and then very carefully glue them into place. If you need help, just look at pictures of “wildflowers in the mountains” on Google Images.
- Add background sky with a cardboard background display or another lid. This one is easy. Do you want a sunset or a clear blue sky? Mix blue with white to make it midday and then crumple up some toilet paper or tissue paper and dab at the paint while it’s still wet. That will make clouds.
For a sunset, mix your sunset colors with white to soften them. Otherwise, they will be too bright and unrealistic looking. If you want to show mountains in the distance, make them a soft, hazy blue and it will be perfect. Let your paint dry and then glue it to your diorama!
- You can add people to your diorama, too! This is a great option that teachers always love. Add little hikers next to a campfire and a tiny tent. String a little silver thread between treetops on either side of the river and hang someone on a zip-line from it. Show a family nature walking along your mountainside.
In conclusion, we would like to thank you for reading our tutorial. Do you have any questions? Would you like to make a comment? We would love to hear your thoughts below and we encourage you to share your opinions with us. If you like this article, please like and share it below to all of your social media accounts. You can help other people make mountain dioramas, too! God bless and take care of yourself.