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We have a real special treat for all of you interested in building your own diorama’s as Ardy Jo has recently completed his build of a 1:12 scale Tatooine Structure and has shared his entire process with us alongside an exclusive photoshoot of the final thing complete with figures from the 40th Anniversary Black Series line.
A Behind The Scenes Look With Ardy Jo
With inspiration from the Star Wars Black Series 40th Anniversary line, I felt the need for some Tatooin-esque props to compliment the local desert scenery. I am by no means a professional in anything particular, but I do find it creatively awesome to make mash-up props using leftover junk and seeing how they incorporate with the figures. I invite any toy figure photographer to give it a try! Start small and go from there. This build in particular is a homage to the original trilogy where prop makers used pieces of random stuff to create something truly unique and awesome.
It was interesting to discover how shooting a structure that is meant to be incorporated in the scenery, such as this, differs from shooting scenes with the dioramas I’ve built previously or just the plain landscape shots I love to do so much. Hopefully you get the idea with some initial shots I took with the finished piece. Again mega amateur.
Obviously there are various mini steps in a build, including backtracking steps if you haven’t done one before. I broke down this BTS custom into a few simple steps based on the pictures I could dig up. Basically you start with an idea of what you want and go from there. Initially, I wanted to build the Lars homestead for the whole sun setting Luke scene, but ended up going a bit bigger with a mashup of various images of Mos Eisley and the cantina. I wanted to go for something that had more than just a couple scenes to shoot with and would be interactive with exchangeable mini props.
This build took a while to complete, just because I really took my time in each step to research what elements i wanted in it before I finalized the gluing, paint etc., lesson learned from previous custom builds. Overall I am pretty pleased with how it came out. The scale could have been a bit larger for 6 inch figures, but as most Tatooine structures, the majority of the building is underground and looks to capture close up scenes pretty well so far.
Step 1- Build the base
I had a lot of foam materials left over from our washer/dryer. Happy I kept a lot of it! I used some foam board from the store to make some of the smaller pieces where I didn’t want to cut up big foam pieces. I went with White Gorilla Glue again since coverage is good and sticks to whatever once you get pieces wet and doesn’t dry too fast or too slow. The expanding feature takes getting used to but I like how it worked with Styrofoam pieces. Basically you build a crude outline of your building while planning on where you will place other elements in the next steps. It took several days spread out finalizing this step since I would find different images of inspiration or pieces of junk that I could incorporate.
Step 2- Details
The details really make a build like this. The smallest details when combined into one image really add to the feel of the picture. I still would like to add some more even to the “finished” building. When detailing, you really have to be in the creative and discovery frame of mind when searching through junk like I did. 9 times out of 10 I was more successful looking in the garage for stuff than going to the store. Star Wars provides a lot of freedom in the area of custom and creativeness which is a big attraction for me.
My long time ago galaxy far far away details included micro-sprinkler hoses & parts, PVC of different sizes, wooden rods, craft clay for small custom pieces, picture wire, key rings, pen pieces and various un-definable springs, fans etc. During this phase you just need to take your time and build up a collection of “cool-looking” pieces and see what you got to work with.
Step 3- More details!
I highlight the details again because I believe this step took the longest. I should have even took longer, but was itching to finish both to see how it looked and to clean up my month/2 month long mess. Builds are really in the eye of the beholder. If you are trying to match something to the exact reference piece, then for me at least nothing but that will do. For this build, since it was a mash-up, I was more forgiving on myself in the areas of perfection. It’s a building in the harsh desert, it isn’t going to be perfect right? At this step I started piecing together other elements that would be optional/exchangeable such as a door, tent, vaporator, some kind of generator thingy etc.
Step 4- Top layer & color
I went ahead and tried Plaster of Paris dry mix for this build. Previously I have used craft air dry clay. I really wanted to get an uneven surface on the building and believe the plaster achieved that and it was cheaper by volume. Some messy quick dry stuff! I used the entire box on the outside and inside of it. Stuff is really hard too so be sure to mix a little at a time and get it where you want it right off. It isn’t sand-able like the clay so that was interesting. For paint, I did several layers of acrylics to achieve the colouring and weathering that was satisfactory-ish to me. I also did final gluing of the detail pieces at this phase.
One massive thank you goes to Ardy for really pushing past creative barriers to create such an incredible diorama to scale to really help show off the 40th Anniversary figures – fantastic work!! Be sure to see more of Ardy’s work over on Instagram @ardyj0 and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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Last modified: June 4, 2019