Welcome To My Cork Bark Mountaineer Diorama Page.

This page is about how I have made the cork bark mountain for my Gebirgsjager mountaineer figure, and up to now this is the biggest diorama that I have made in 1/6th scale. As it works out to an overall height of over 17", which is mainly governed by the available storage space I have here on my shelves, this is then mounted onto a square wooden base. I must admit that it has been a small trial in making it, as I want to make sure that everything is right, and for this reason it has been a long time in the planning stages.


Important Note: Make sure that the base is sealed with varnish before making a diorama on it, as this stops the base from warping. Also I put some strong tape around the edges, so that when I am finished and it is removed I have straight lines all the way around the landscape.

Diorama Base Assembly


The wooden base for this mountaineering diorama is 10" x 10", as I felt that this would be the best size to get the effect that I am after, I did consider using one of my other larger bases for this. But I am limited by the available space I have here to store the finished diorama, plus if I don't control myself like this the diorama will just grow in size with any new ideas that I may come up, especially as the overall height is getting  to be about 18".


Note: One problem I found before I started this large rock face is cutting the cork bark to size, especially on the sides to make sure that they are as straight as possible, so to do this I used a Pad saw. The purpose of this is that with the thickness of the cork bark, this saw and the long blade is far easier to use for this that my other smaller razor saw. And as shown in the two pictures on the right, you can see just how much of a curve is in the two pieces of cork bark at the back.


I do prefer to use the curved bark for my dioramas, even though I do give myself a lot of extra work with the cutting of it to size, with making sure that the straight edges line up with the balsa wood sides and the base edges.

The reason for this is that it helps to add an extra effect of the curve at the front, plus it also helps to take away any front edges, angles or lines being in line with the base edges. The picture on the right will hopefully help to explain a bit more about how I work with my dioramas, and how I try to have as little as possible level with the base edges.


A - Is the cork bark as seen from the front, and because of the curve on it nothing is in line with the base.


B - Is the figure itself which still has to be turned slightly to the left as shown, so that it is pointing towards the corner. Which will also make sure that the arms, body and the feet are not in line with the base edges.


C - These are the straight base edges, that I am trying to avoid having anything level with. Note: An example of where I have got it wrong is with the foot of the figure, as one of them is in a straight line level with the base edge. So by turning the figure slightly to the left, so it is pointing into the corner to me it will look much better.

Diorama Base Sides Assembly

Important Note: I have found that the balsa sheet I used for the sides was too thin, and when I put on the PVA/plaster mix the sides warped. So I recommend using a thicker sheet such as a 4mm size so that this does not happen.

The sides like my other mountain diorama are built from a balsa wood frame fixed to the base, which is then covered in flat balsa sheets. And as shown in the pictures below I have had to line up the side of the cork bark with the base edge, glue it in place and then move it slightly so that the balsa wood sheet is on the edge of the base at the back.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

1. This is the cork bark glued on the base in the position I wanted. 2. This is a closer picture of the corner of the cork bark, with a balsa strip glued onto the base as a support for the side I want to put on here. 3 & 4. These show how untidy the cork bark and base look, before I put the balsa sheet on as the sides to hide it all. 5 & 6. Show the other side of the cork bark with one of the balsa sheets on it, which I have deliberately left over sized. The reason for this is that I can glue some smaller pieces of cork bark onto this and the rock face to fill in the gaps.

And after I have got the look that I want and I have the gaps filled, then I carefully cut the balsa sheet almost to the shape of the rock face, and I use some fine sandpaper to shape the balsa wood sheet to the profile of the rock face.

 7. 8. 9. 10.  11.  12.   13.

7. This is the view of the diorama from above, showing where I have to put another flat piece of balsa sheet to cover it. 8. This shows the other side of the cork bark, with another balsa sheet which I have had to trim to the profile of the rock face. 9. Here you can see how I have used the cork bark to wrap around the balsa wood at the top, and in 10. you can see how the bottom of the balsa sheet is laying on top of the cork bark.

11, 12 & 13. Shows the frame that I have had to build inside the diorama to hold everything together, because I found when moving it with all of the balsa sheets in place, that it was a little bit fragile.


Note: On the inside of the balsa sheets I have used some balsa strips cut into Mortice and Tenon joints, I then glued them and the pieces on the base to keep them all together. I also pressed some pins in through the front of the cork bark with my pliers, which goes into the centre cross members to hold them in place. This gives them all strength plus it stops the outside sheets from moving over time.

Diorama Base Sides & Gap Filling

14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20.

The pictures above show how I have glued and pinned the balsa sheets into place, 14. is the front view, 15. is one of the sides showing how much of a gap I have to fill with pieces of cork bark. 16. This is the back of the diorama with the two balsa sheets glued in place, 17. shows the other side with the overhanging part of the cork bark, and 18. shows the top piece in place. 19. & 20. The top and side sheets have been trimmed and sanded to the profile of the rock face.

21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26.  27.

21. 22. & 23. The pictures above show how I have filled the gaps in the sides with some small pieces of cork bark, and how I have cut and sanded the balsa wood sides to the shape of the rock face. 24. & 25. These show the shape of the ledge that I want the figure to stand on, which has been designed around the position of the figure. 26. Shows a better picture of the figure on the ledge, to get an idea of how big the diorama is.


27. Is the front of the ledge which I first filled the space inside with some spare pieces of balsa wood glued to the base, making sure that I have them lined up to where the feet of the figure will go. Note: This not only supports the figure, but when I put a piece of wire into the base it will go into the base, through the balsa wood and into the feet of the figure. One side of the rock face will come down into the ledge, so that it looks smoother and it all blends into the ledge that the figure is on. Then over the top of that I glued some flat pieces of balsa wood which I will shape to the contours of the ledge. I will then use some more of the plaster mixed with some PVA glue on top of that, then I put the scatter/landscape materials onto the top of it.

Diorama Base Landscaping

Now I have blended the sides into the rock face as well. This was done with some plaster mixed with a little PVA glue in a saucer of water, this was then painted onto the sides with a large fan brush.

28.  29.    30.  31.   32.   

28. Shows the long emery boards that I am using to sand down the PVA/Plaster mix that I covered the sides of the diorama with after I left it for 24 hours to dry, 29. shows just how messy it can get as my knee is at the bottom of the picture, which along with the patio stones are covered in the plaster dust. 30. & 31.  Shows two overhead shots of the diorama. 32. This picture shows how I have sanded the sides to blend in with the rock face. Note: On my other Mountains page I made, the Diorama Base Sides & Gap Filling section also helps to explain this step.

33. 34. 35.  

33. & 34. Here I have added some different materials for the ledge that the figure will be standing on, I still have to paint the edges of the ledge Brown to cover up the white of the plaster/PVA mix I used to hold the groundwork in place. I will also be using a wash of various Brown and Grey paints, to cover up the other patches. Once the groundwork is dry, I will also cut and sand the balsa wood side down to the shape of the ledge.

35. This picture shows where I have test fitted the figure onto the base, plus I have pressed down on the boots as well to get them to sink into the wet groundwork slightly.


With the oversized sides as shown in pictures 33, 34 and 35 above, once all of the ledge is dry I then cut it down carefully with my model knife so that the side becomes level with the ledge. And then I add some more of the plaster mix to the join, and then sprinkle on some of the groundwork material.

Diorama Base Side Painting

Because of what I learned from making my other mountain diorama, I have left this stage to now regarding painting the sides. As I found that with the handling of the base and the size of it, I would only have to repaint the sides again if I did this earlier, since I would have too many fingerprints and marks on them from handling the base.

36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41.

These pictures are of the base with the sides painted with some artists Black acrylic paint, one of the benefits of using this thicker acrylic based paint is that it can help to fill in any small faults in the sides of the base. Because even though I have sanded the sides as smooth as I can, I would be adding and sanding the plaster for hours, just to get the sides all perfectly smooth if I just used the plaster. In the pictures above they show how the Black paint shows off the lighter coloured cork rock face better. 36. This is the top shaped and repainted, 37. This is the base for the figure with the side cut and sanded down. 38. 39. & 40. Show the rock face against the black sides. 41. Is a larger picture of the whole diorama.

Finished Diorama Base

42. 43. 44. 45. 46.

The pictures above are of the finished diorama with the figure posed on it. 42. Shows the figure without the rope whilst I was getting the pose right, 43. Shows it with the rope, which I have going down under the ledge and through the base, I then tied a knot in the end of the rope and pulled it tight through the figure's hands. Pictures 44. 45. & 46. are view's of the mountaineer figure that I am kitbashing for this diorama.

Note: At the moment I can't find the picture I am after for the rest of the base, I do have some here but I cannot make my mind up as to which one to use.

Thank you to Heeresbergführer for all of the superb pictures and the very detailed help with this Gebirgsjager figure.

And a thank you to everyone who helped with this forum topic - Mountain

I would like to take the chance to say thank you to all modellers of all scales, who over the years have taught me so much.


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