DIY Model Making | How to Make Props | Tutorials for Homemade Miniature Scenes & Sets
Landscapes & Textures for Stop Motion Movies
I've always wanted to create my own stop-motion movie ever since I watched Wallace & Gromit repeatedly as a child, and as part of my series of web pages on this awesome animation technique, this lens focusses on the creation of sets and scenery. Here you will find advice on making realistic grass, stone, marble, puddles, bricks, rock, roads, foliage and much more, so you can build exactly the scene you want.
Animation sets can be created relatively cheaply, depending on the materials and complexity of the design you choose. On the other end of the scale, professional sets cost plenty of money ...and even more man hours - it's certainly not for the impatient!
I hope you find the links below very helpful for whatever you want to achieve :)
Amazing Derelict Town Set
Model Making, Set Design & Stop Motion Animation Books
Here is a selection of animation and model making books that have received great reviews:
Mainly aimed at set designers and model makers, this book covers the creation of clean, neat and detailed miniatures, especially film and theater sets.
Plenty of foamboard and other foam products are utilized in the construction projects, but many other materials are covered too. I like the tutorials showing how to achieve different textures and finishes.
This specialized book provides valuable information on producing models of stage sets, and provides great advice on constructing buildings, furniture, trees and more.
Aardman are the animation company that first got me interested in stop-motion, and this fun and colorful book gives excellent details about model making and film making processes.
I own this book myself and can personally recommend it as a comprehensive guide to stop-motion animation for anyone, whether you're a keen beginner or an experienced animator.
All of the practical elements of this type of animation are covered, including how to build sets and puppets.
Model Making Introduction
There are many clever techniques used in a vast array of model making hobbies, and most of these techniques are simple enough to carry out at home to make your own mini sets and scenery. I started this page to provide information regarding building a set for making your own animated stop-motion movie, but the same ideas can be used for all kinds of model making crafts.
Warhammer, dollhouse making, model railways, architecture and diorama building are all areas where model making is either the main requirement or is a necessary part of it, and the same methods can be mixed and matched between all of them. Warhammer is a hobby that requires a lot of terrain making skills to set up the battle landscape, with the main themes and models being fantasy landscapes, stone ruins, water features and war themed structures. Doll houses require meticulous accuracy with extremely detailed miniature models of everything from roof tiles to tiny knives and forks. Model railway building often requires the creation of mountains, trees and foliage mainly, as well as structures like bridges. Architects craft buildings using very precise foam cut-outs. And finally dioramas are miniature scenes which sometimes have moving parts and produce excellent realistic results.
I have collected the best online tutorials for scenery-building below. You will find that sculpting shapes often involves the use of foam - because it's easy to shape - but there are many more materials (specialized and everyday) which can be used in your models. These include: paper mache, plaster, wire mesh, foam board/foamcore, clay, cardboard, MDF and other woods, balsa, polystyrene, fabric, paint, flocking, resin, corkboard, moldable pastes and sand. As long as it works for what you want, then you can use it - so if you want to use cereal boxes and sponges then you can, just use your imagination!
Handy Techniques You Can Use - Plus Information Resources
- What Is Flock?
Flock comes in many forms and is vital for most model making hobbies.
- DIY Faux Brick Wall
Step-by-step instructions for a clever effect which you could scale down.
- HUGE Resource Of Tips & Tricks
(Section 16 is my favorite.) Be sure to check out the rest of the instructions from the Home Page too.
- Modelmaking Guides
A list of quick how-tos on sculpting polystyrene, making mini furniture and more.
- Faux Clay Stone
Polymer clay is a very versatile material that come in many colors.
- Faux Lava Rock
Another technique you can try to create texture using clay.
- Paper Mache
Papier mache can be used with wire mesh to create large landscapes.
- How To Flock Surfaces
Video instructions for flocking a wood surface.
- Making Clouds
Fun prop to make with balloons, paper mache and pillow stuffing.
Shaun The Sheep
How To Make Trees & Foliage
Greenery is often a huge part of a model set, whether it's for a diorama or a model railway, so learning how to create realistic-looking foliage is very important thing.
There is a huge range of different trees, plants and hedges in existence, so there are many options for you to choose from when making your set. Note that the same few techniques can be applied to form all the different shapes and forms you like, so once you learn them, you can make anything!
Dark Forest Animation Set
Model Trees, Foliage, Craft Knives & Cutting Mat
I think that every crafter should definitely have a cutting mat and craft knife if their possession because they always come in handy when you trying to make something, especially if that something is small and fiddly! And if you are making an outdoor landscape you'll most like need foliage which you can buy pre-made or you can make yourself with flock and the tutorials below.
Stop-Motion Animation Guides & Examples - Advice Specifically For Helping You Create A Stop-Motion Movie Short
- Miniature Set Construction
Covering all aspects of animation including building a dragon's temple.
- The Making Of A Movie
Behind the scenes on an Amnesty International stop-motion film.
- Endless Inspiration
Whenever I need ideas, I look at the amazing examples from all over the web.
- Tabletop Animation Tips
Best thing to note is to glue as much stuff down as possible so it doesn't move!
Realistic Shop Facade
Architectural Model Making Video Help - Instructions For How To Correctly Work With Foam & Other Materials
Creative Doll's House Design - Useful Ideas From The World Of Doll House Making
- Upholstering a Chair
Very thorough tutorial for building a chair from foamcore and covering it with fabric.
- Custom Fireplace
Using an outer layer of clay to sculpt the brick shapes into.
- Egg Carton Bricks & Flagstones
Amazing result using cardboard egg cartons.
- Balsa Wood Brick Blocks
Using an emery board to sculpt the brickwork.
- From Tudor Houses to Mosaic Tables
Masses of wonderful information and step-by-step tutorials.
- Upholster a Couch
How to cover a cardboard sofa with fabric.
- Buildings & Garden Steps
Tutorials include a slate roof, marbled surfaces and stone steps.
- Marble Effect Tabletop
Creating the look of marble using a charcoal pencil.
- Looking At Brick Wall Patterns
A detailed look at real-life brick walls and how to replicate them.
- Chimney; From Start To Finish
A look at the processes used to build a beautiful chimney.
- Rusty Tin Roof
A clever and easy way to make sheds and abandoned houses.
The Making Of A Stop-Motion Film For Amnesty International
The Making Of A Stop-Motion Film For Amnesty International
Buildings, Houses & Other Scenery Tutorials
Warhammer & Railway Based Model Making - These Hobbies Are A Great Source Of Advice For Landscapes & Terrain
- DIY Battle Boards & More
Lots of demonstrations of applying flocking.
- Terrain Tutorials
Includes how to make stone walls, hills and forests.
- Ooze Plant
Fun slimy prop using layers of plaster and gloss paint.
- Making a Rock Wall
How to build up walls using gravel.
- Buildings & Ruins
Tutorial for making a battleground ruin using foam core.
- Warhammer Battleground
Lots of props you can make including medieval inns, bunkers and relics.
- Scenery Construction
Pages of articles including how to paint a tavern and how to make conifers.
- Model Train Scenery
Great collection of detailed tutorials.
- Shaping The Landscape
Plus how to marry the model railway backdrop to the layout.
- Sand-Cast Foam Terrain
Impressive project using sand to make the mold, and expanding foam to fill it.
- How To Make Forests
Instructions for making a forest with a foliage canopy and dowelling trunks.
Tissue Paper Scenery
Terrain & Painting Instructions
Air Brush, Hot Wire Foam Cutter & a Dremel Rotary Tool
There are various tools on the market which are targeted specifically at model makers, and there are some that are handy for all kinds of craftwork jobs. Here is a selection of air brushes (for smooth and consistent painting), hot wire cutters (for making cutting foam easy peasy), and a Dremel tool (for detail work on small crafts).
Rock, Stone & Brick Textures
More Model Making Instructions
- Model Hut
Check out the 'articles' section on this scale model advice website.
- Amazing Scale Model Buildings
Brilliant step-by-step for creating realistic building faÃ§ades in foamboard.
- Foam Walls & More
Scoll down for an in-depth look at making walls, plus how to make patterning tools.
- Let It Snow!
Clever way to add snow using a baking soda and glue mix.
- Terracotta Tile Roof
Making good use of the wavy texture of corrugated cardboard.
- A Diorama Waterfall
Made from a plastic bottle and some clear caulk.
- Realistic Craters
Perfect for damaged buildings and ruins.
This stop motion studio set-up shows the scale and the arrangement of the scenery/background/lights etc. Notice that the 'floor' and background sections are not fixed permantently in place so that they can be swapped with others easily. Also notice that the floor piece is thin with a gap underneath - theis is because the puppets are keep upright and stable with either tie-downs or magnets which are used on the underside of the 'floor' level.
Photo by (c) Fiona Dalwood.
Building A Stage For Stop Motion Animation
This bottle of 'realistic water' is extremely useful for creating ponds/puddles etc. within your model landscape.
Non-toxic, simple to use, and looks great.