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F F U R G > Your Customs > Star Wars Dioramas
I've started my next major diroama/ photonovel "set". I've been posting a number of WIP photos for anyone who is interested to follow along. The original full thread is over at my thread on if you want to check it out. Here are the highlights:

I started with a simple design for a main room built out of foamcore. I added some figures to show off the basic scale:

I added some texture to the wall with a quick dry spackle. I then coated with a base tan color. I also added the side rooms. None of these walls were permenantly attached. If fact most of the whole thing will be modular and easily disassembled for storage.

Lastly, I added a dark brown wash to the walls. I really like the effect it created.

Next up I'm going to work on the floor (vinyl flooring) and start adding the extras to the walls and fixtures, etc.

I'm always up for comments, questions, ideas, and critiques!
My one critique, being an architect, is that the walls are thick enough to be realistic. I think they need to be thicker to portray heaviness that the color scheme implies.
Interesting comment, I was just looking at Jabba's diorama and realized how thick they made their walls. I may need to see about trying to incorporate something into this project.

In the end, this set-up is just being assembled as a way for me to explore my creativity and serve as a set for portions of a photonovel. Given some limations at home (specifically a wife that thinks I'm crazy) there is no way this will be left full assembled. Any mods I do to it need to keep my end result in mind.

However, my mind is already spinning on how to make this "thicker" Thanks!

P.S. As an architect, if the walls were reinforced with some sort of metal beams, would that allow for thinner contrusctions? I was already thinking about adding some supports beams through the walls and around the arches.
Steel beams and columns almost always "thin up" building systems. Look at skyscrapers of Chicago in the 1910s (Monadock Bldg), massively thick walls, small windows, and somewhat limited in height, mostly due to "load-bearing" masonry. Then you look at a later buildings in the same city, like Louis Sullivan's Marshall Fields Wholesale store, which extensively used steel/iron on the inside and outside, and it has a lot larger windows and a very light/airy facade.

However, if Jabba's palace is any indication, the buildings of Tatooine are mostly heavy, massive masonry buildings.

Ok, I'm done being a Architectural History professor now... graduated.gif
Delaton - thanks for the lesson. I'm already planning mods to the is diorama to make the walls thicker and I'm quite excited about it. Thanks again for the helpful advice!
This is really looking great so far. Can't wait to see the finished product.
Update time....

I took most of the day off to celebrate my birthday (happy birthday to me). I spent a couple of hours updated the Diorama. The genesis of this update is a comment from Delaton who correctly pointed out that the walls didn't seem thick enough to support the structure. So here it is with thicker walls. The spackle needs to dry so I can paint it up.

I added a little shelf inside the main arch (sort of like something I saw in a Jabba's Palace Diorama.

I made the arches thicker by basically just gluing pieces of styrene to the arch. Since I'm not going to show the other side, it doesn't matter if it sticks out. This is where my piece is more of a photonovel set than an actual diorama wink.gif I can always go back and add the other side.

Okay, after the update, I need some help with a decision. Which floor color looks better:




Both of the floors are rolled out vinyl. They have different textures that I'm going to apply a wash too. It may be that I need to what and do that to make the final decision. However YOUR input would be most appreciated.

Thanks for looking.
Well the walls look thicker. And gluing things together to make the appearance of thickness is an age old trick. Personally, I like the second floor better. It looks more stone like than first which looks more sand/artificial to me.
Great update on the walls, Brent! They do look a lot more beliveable now.

(And many thanks to our architecture expert, Del, for bringing back memories of my long-lost, mythical hometown!... sniff... unsure.gif )

Now, à propos floor color... Like Paul, I prefer a floor color that suggests stone to one that suggests sand. But neither of these two colors seem to do that. The red is very handsome, but for some reason looks too much like modern-day flooring to me. Maybe a sort of lightish stone gray? A stone look would be a good complement to the thicker walls for the reasons that Del mentioned.

All the best on this -- keep us posted!

... the Findswoman
(And many thanks to our architecture expert, Del, for bringing back memories of my long-lost, mythical hometown!... sniff... unsure.gif )

I knew some people would enjoy the references...I only knew them from books until 3 years ago, when I actually saw the Marshall Field's Wholesale Store. Didn't try to find the Monadock.

Brent, looks much better. And now that I'm seeing more angles of the Weequay, I'm really diggin' the head even more!
Update time....

First the floor. I took the dark vinyl and tried to add a wash. However, as I probably should have expected, the vinyl floor just repelled the water based wash. So Plan B was a more of a drybrush. Here is the end results. I pretty much used gray, black and a bit of "vermin brown". I just did this on a small piece of the vinyl that I cut up. Any advice for improvements??

Next up, I almost completely finished reworking the "thicker" walls. All but the main arch is finished here. I put a few pieces together to show off the effect. My WIP Gardulla is checking out her new digs.

Lastly, while the brown washes on the floor was drying, I started working on Gardulla's throne. Its foamcore based, with a nice red fabric stuffed with a little polyester fiberfill to give her some cushion. Nothing but the best for my Sexy mama... The walls around the throne are made from Sytrene pieces (including a cut-up "for sale" sign - thanks again for the tip Jesse!) Obviously, the sides need to be trimmed to fit.

Good floor. It looks like slate now. Were you using an acrylic paint? Other things that could've worked, scuffing the tile with steel wool or fine gritted sand paper than painting.
Jesse James
I've been watching you progress over at JD Brent, I just don't have much time to dedicate to my customs duties in the last few months is all, so I apologize for not chiming in much. I'm glad to see you have your diorama project here at though to share with these readers.

The architecture you've gone with on the interior really isn't far off from the Bounty Hunter game shots we'd described... It's very similar, and open/airy compared to say Jabba's confined den of scum and villainy. Hers was also very well lit it seemed in the Bounty Hunter game and I like seeing that you appear to be going with that... While total accuracy isn't on your agenda as you noted to me, I think you're getting allt he right elements from Gardulla's palace in the game.

The big arched doorways and things... It really is shaping up to be more accurate than you maybe even thought.

The flooring is great too as Paul noted. I'm really curious if you're going to decorate it with some rugs, furniture... What your goals are there with all that?

Here's a weird thing you may want to try applying if you keep your eyes out for something similar... I was at the dollar store. They had these sort of wicker-ish looking woven coasters. I looked at them, and my mind raced immediately as to what they could be used for... Then it hit me. They look like little square "mats" for a Wookiee household. They're sort of modern-ish, and a Wookiee would decorate like that I think, but it still holds that "woodlife" theme for the Wookiee race...

Maybe looking for similar items while browsing a dollar store and you could find something to adorn your Gardulla palace? Perhaps little tacky "incense holders" that are in sort of ancient Asian sculptures to use as artwork for Gardulla's palace? Or similarly looking for a cheap coaster or some such that would make an interesting series of mats or rugs in her palace?

I think I'd consider adding some "Tech" to the place too when you get into details... A computer access panel at some point in some corner... Something that blends the sort of architecture with SW technology (again the way Wookiee's have high tech materials built into a tree with a 1/2 mile thickness they hollowed out as a high-rise building. smile.gif ).

The floor looks great to me though I think as-is, I wouldn't go with too much on improving it... Just decorating it now with the things living beings use on their floors. BTW thanks for the nod on the "for Sale" sign tip. I'm glad it was able to help someone out. Cheap plastic is always a good find man. smile.gif
Ooh, red plush for Madame! That'll be such a nice touch. Go for an all-out bordello-style look! biggrin.gif Can't wait to see what you do with the throne.

... the Findswoman
Thanks for the comments on the update.

Jesse- you hit the nail on one of my biggest fears of this project. How the heck am I going to decorate this place? I've got a lot of little pieces in my fodder buckets that I'm going to try and work with but its not going to be nearly enough. I think I need have some small pillows and rugs around the edges for sure. I'm debating on trying to get some little LED type lights to add some ambience as well. I'm definitely going to hit the dollar store very soon and look around!

pbarny - the floor was painted with acrylics. Its a good idea to scuff it up a bit, I may try that too.

finds- thanks for the comments - from the Queen of Softgoods - I've got a lot of work to do to impress you.
Update time.

I was experimenting with the lighting when I was taking these pictures. So let me know what you think. Some of them have had their "levels" corrected in photoshop too.

Anyway, things that have been finished since the last update:

Floor is now full painted
Gardulla's throne has four sides (still needs painting)
Walls have all be made thicker, spackled, painted and washed.
Changed the front layout to show some gradual steps into the palace

I'm almost finished with the major construction/painting phase. I'll have a lot of details to add to the make some finishing touches and I'm planning on experimenting with some lighting (gasp!)

Here are some photos:

As always comments, questions, and criticisms are welcome.
Jesse James

Things are looking to be shaping up nicely... I'm curious, how are you painting the interior? Will you go with a smooth look, or something similar to like an Adobe type "mud wall" interior like a lot of Mos Eisley buildings appeared? Jabba's Palace had that look too, so I think it's still fitting even for a palacial estate...

Any ideas or hints on details you're going to go forward with? Any early thoughts on how to light it too?

Beware the heat put out by whatever lightsource you choose is my only advice at the moment. I've been looking into lighting a display cabinet for my vintage figures actually and the heat generated is an important factor. I'm looking into rope lighting actually because of that.
Thanks again for the encouragement. I'm a little confused by your question on the interior. The walls you see are intended to represent the interior of the palace. So basically they are spackled to look like the "mud walls" that you described. Were you expecting something else?

As far as the lighting goes. I've been experimenting with LEDs. These are very short term use (just for photos during the PN) so I don't expect the heating to be an issue long term. I'm not ready to divulge anything yet because I'm not sure how it will turn out. I've also laid out some ideas for some other parts of the diorama. I think I've come up with something for a curtain perhaps smile.gif

Minor Update (from a volume perspective). I worked hard on this project several hours tonight and have a little update to share. Its only a small portion of this but I'm very pleased with how it turned out. Almost exactly as I had it in my imagination.

I wanted to start adding some of the "realistic" touches to the interior of the Palace. One thing I wanted to do is put a curtain up on one of the arched doors. Here is the output:

You can also see a pillow I made out of some excess fabric and the start of something that might be a rug. I really need a sewing machine to make this rug correct but I don't see that happening.

I'm very close to really starting to add the details to the interior. Hopefully it comes together in the end pretty quickly.

As always, I look forward to your comments, criticisms, or questions.
Update time. Lots of little things added to the mix this week. Its really shaping up and I'm quite excited about it all.

Here's the round up of new additions:

1) Light fixtures (with working LEDs) on one wall
2) Gardulla's Dias has been resized (read shrunk) so as to not take up quite as much space. Its also been painted.
3) Support columns painted
4) "Iron" gate added to back room
5) Staircase in back hall painted
6) Tables and fixtures sculpted and painted.

I've been playing with the LEDs for this fixture. I was afraid they were going to be too dim but then I removed the resistors and whammo they really turned on bright. I may switch to some yellow lights that are a bit dimmer. We'll have to see. The original bulbs I bought (from Radioshack) burned out without the resistors. However these new ones are from They certainly live up to there reputation! The problem with the extra bright bulbs now is that the paint on the fixture isn't quite opaque enough. More experimentation is needed!!

I added the gate as a suggestion from a friend of mine. I thought about adding another curtain but ultimately decided that I liked the asymmetry. I need to figure out some mechanism to "latch" the door shut. The hinge does work so I can open and close the door.

As always, comments, criticisms, suggestions are welcome!
This is freaking awesome!
Well, I know that I said I wouldn't show the finished Palace until after the next chapter of the Photonovel is finished. However, I just couldn't wait biggrin.gif I'm very pleased with how this whole project came together. There will be many many more pictures in the photonovel and after the photonovel.

But for now, here are a few photos for your enjoyment:

A special HUGE thanks goes out to findswoman for her excellent "soft goods" She is responsible for the rugs, blankets, pillows, and wall hangings. THANKS again!
This diorama has really shapped up nicely. I love the detail you've put into it. I look forward to seeing your work in the future.
Jesse James
Hey Brent, I'm sorry for my lateness in my reply... Basically you answered my questions though so no worries, I just have a bad way of wording things, haha.

Anyways, outstanding work... I'm sorry I couldn't add input along the way but customizing's been hard to focus much on with life taking over and work at the other site and things. It's just a pain sometimes to get it all in and customizing has been taking the backseat now. sad.gif

Anyway, onto your project and some thoughts I'll list out...

-The curtain drawn to the one side is one of the best details I've seen in ANY diorama ever. I'm a huge fan of the little stuff, and that is a very life-like little detail. It's small, it's classy, it adds a lot to the "scene". It adds mystery, like what's back there... It adds realism... It adds detail. It takes the set tot he next level and it's a simple little thing you added. I like that man.

-The Dais is great... It's different and more "modern" looking than Jabba's. It's like looking at the difference between a man and a woman's tastes in that item. That's a nice touch, but it also ties the two Hutt's together, like they really enjoy a big bed to lie on because of their size maybe or whatnot.

-The LED's are amazing and add a lot to the scene to bring it to life... Especially enjoy the way you hid the lighting in torch-like designs but still keeping it electornically lit up. It's like it's "old" but still has the Sci-Fi elements to it. Very cool man.

Anyway, that's some thoughts I had...

The room seems a little sparse, that's my only criticism... The main hallway that is. There seems like there should be more seating or something... I'm curious, will you be adding to this at all? More rooms? Extensions?

Great work though Brent, I've enjoyed this project you've had going on her Palace... You did great with it. smile.gif
Thanks for the feedback! I really appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Jesse, I want to respond to you in some detail. You've given me a lot of great ideas for this project. I agree with you on the curtain. Its my absolutel favorite part of the whole set-up.

Dias - The goal was to go 'lavish' with this one and I think we (I saw we since Findswoman really contributed to this part) really pulled it off.

LEDs - I've actually got grain lights (two each) in each of the three torches. LEDs were used for the stage lights. I was going to use LEDs in the torches but then they turned out to be too bright.

As far as your criticism on the sparseness. I really struggled with how else to fill it up. I've taken a bunch (100+) more photos for the photonovel and filled it up with many more characters. So I don't think its too sparse. However, maybe I should have some more seating areas in some fashion. As far as extensions go. I'm really not sure. This was really designed just to be used for the Photonovel. It was an awfully agressive project in terms of scope but it really doesn't have any sort of permenant display. I'm not sure if I'll add on or not.

Thanks again for all the feedback!
Now that I've finished up the photonovel. I promised to update with some more photos. Some are new and some are part of the PN:

Jesse James
Hey Brent, sorry for my late reply, I'm just not into customizing these days so I've been out of the loop and missed your finale...

First, I gotta say that it looks fantastic overall. I think the space is much more palacial than Jabba's digs, and I like that it's open like that whereas Jabba's house is sorta enclosed and private looking. I also love the way you decorated the interior with lamps and things. That's got to be my favorite aspect is the LED's you put in to light the interior up and make it look functional even though it's a diorama.

The grated door really adds a lot to the look of the building too, it's another favorite detail of mine... It is definitely unique and stands out.

The carpets/rugs are really cool and again add a lot of needed detail (and color) to the display I think. They give it again that functional look that sometimes I feel people's dioramas/displays lack. The palace is a home, and a home has rugs, curtains, furniture, etc., etc., etc... People sometimes slap together a house or whatnot and there's nothing to it and they think it looks realistic, but realism includes the things people use in life... Everything from cutlery to a throw pillow can make a diorama realistic... Case-in-point, 21st Cent. Toys made 1:18 bombed out structures for their military line, and one is a French Farmhouse that's 3 levels... It's sparse really, but a guy took his and threw in some dollhouse furniture, some of which he added bullet holes to or damage in some ways, and you really saw an amazing change in realism. It went from looking like a cool enough display/toy, to a real diorama/museum-ish recreation.

Your Palace reminds me of that... There's realism, there's detail, there's function... It's great.

The Dais for Gardulla rocks (as does the figure), and I like how you have her blanketed and she has the comforts of home around her (blankets, pillows, and really expensive looking stuff). It's really cool and well done.

I'm curious what the droid station's inspiration is... What is its function, what does it do? I see a PD hooked up to it and there's a cool console (well made and detailed to make it look different from 9D9's stand).

I love it though Brent, well worth all the time... It's definitely a much more friendly environment than Jabba's. This doesn't look like the type of pad where she's prone to killing people for fun or pulling droid's apart like a 9 year old ripping the limbs off a bug... She almost seems like she's a regal person throwing a party in her home town (she has a house in Mos Eisley, this is the place I'm figuring this is, instead of her Palacial estate outside the city, if that makes sense).

Very cool man, thanks for the updates, they were worth it.
QUOTE (Jesse James @ Jul 7 2006, 04:51 AM) *
Beware the heat put out by whatever lightsource you choose is my only advice at the moment. I've been looking into led lighting a display cabinet for my vintage figures actually and the heat generated is an important factor. I'm looking into rope lighting actually because of that.

I have similar experience when my lightsource ruins the effect I am making. I will remember this tip next time. thanks

QUOTE (Leader @ Jul 18 2006, 06:53 PM) *
This is freaking awesome!

You can say that again. I am amaze on how well he does it. I was trying replicate this myself with no success. Hope to finish it soon though smile.gif
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