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Book Review
Dioramas: Concepts, Composition & Implementation
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by: Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]

Originally published on:


All too frequently, the execution of a diorama is let-down by failing to observe some of the 'unwritten' rules. While an enormous amount of attention is paid to the Groundwork, the Figures and any Vehicles, all too often we forget the composition. This includes many factors - 'balancing' (distributing) the elements, and ensuring that all the elements have a relationship to one another. This new booklet from Xtreme Modelling, takes a look at (amongst other elements) the perspective and composition which is vital for a successful Vignette or Diorama.

In brief

Dioramas: Concepts, Composition & Implementation is the second in Xtreme Modelling's 'Black Star' series of modeling manuals. The book consists of just 32 pages and is written by Joaquín García Gázquez & Javier Redondo.

Content list

0. Concept of vignette

1. The idea

2. Composition and distribution

3. Vertical elements

4. Compression elements

5. Symmetry and parallelisms

6. Considerations and Examples

7. Implementation of a vignette

In Detail

Using a series of Dioramas and Vignettes, the authors present each of the concepts in the book. I'm not going to go thru the whole book, but, as usual, I'll concentrate on one chapter to give a flavor of the book.

The second chapter, Composition and Distribution takes us through the trial and error process in placing the elements to get a satisfactory composition. Within the sub-sections of this chapter is 'First Steps', which then goes on to explain areas such as how the Diorama is seen, the constant use of 'Angles' (avoiding placing elements parallel to one another). The importance of creating a 'Focus' for the Diorama. Apart from the text (which is sufficient rather than overpowering) a wide selection of finished dioramas are shown which illustrate the points nicely.

The rest of the book considers other factors such as 'compression' (giving an almost claustrophobic feeling to a diorama) or Vertical elements - giving the appearance of height to a scene. Areas also discussed are those such as the historical location of a diorama and the importance of researching. The final piece used as illustration is a DUKW on Iwo Jima. This diorama is well chosen as it uses many of the elements covered in the previous chapter such as Verticality, use of different levels on a base and the other elements, which when combined properly gives the intended impression.

Final thoughts

There have been a considerable number of books published dealing with Dioramas. However, it's unusual to see a book which concentrates exclusively on the composition of Dioramas. It's not, in my opinion, the kind of subject that could justify a huge book (at a correspondingly high price), but in THIS format and at THIS price it's an absolute bargain. What also works with the book are the models shown to illustrate the various points - these are some superb pieces of work. What really comes through, in this particular book, is the consideration the authors have given to the subject area. Rather than being commissioned to simply put together a book on a given subject, the impression one gets is careful planning to include the necessary elements. It's NOT in any way, an indispensable book, but it certainly is one which would be well worth having for the next diorama. At less than the price of a modeling magazine it is, once again, a real bargain!

VERY Highly Recommended
Highs: Covering areas which are crucial in the creation of a Diorama or Vignette, this book will have a lot of applications.
Lows: More line drawings to illustrate some of the points could have been useful.
Verdict: An excellent guide to a series of important areas in Diorama work.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: Black Star # 2
  Suggested Retail: 5.00€
  Related Link: Item on Publisher's Website
  PUBLISHED: May 22, 2009

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About Jim Rae (jimbrae)

Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...

Copyright ©2021 text by Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Nice review Jim, well written. The book looks really nice too. I think the topics in this are far too often not documented, only hinted at. Looks like they take front page here. NIce
MAY 22, 2009 - 12:39 AM
Ordered a copy the other night, looking forward to taking a read on it. Cheers!
MAY 28, 2009 - 12:59 AM

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