Today, I’m happy to present to you a project log for my diorama “Bloodstone.” Follow along while we walk through the process of designing, building, painting, and detailing the terrain elements of this daunting diorama.

First, I should explain the principal material I used. This is a block of high density foam. The same material car companies use to make full sized prototypes of their automobile chassis. My wife was able to acquire some cast offs for me since she works at a firm that does custom manufacturing… I’m a lucky man. πŸ™‚
A block of foam used to create the Bloodstone Diorama
The first stage was to block out a general design for the composition. Some of the larger sections are formed from multiple sheets glued together with wood glue. Since the canyon would be sculpted in a subtractive manner, I made sure all the general shapes were roughed-in larger than they would eventually become. At this point I was not concerned with getting my composition exact; instead the idea is to create a general vision and then allow the piece grow organically.
The pieces are arranged for the Bloodstone Diorama to sketch the volumes

Below is the Canyon after my first sculpting pass. I used a rotary dremel tool and a cylindrical-shaped sanding bit for most of the carving. The material is a real dream to work with. Using the rotary tool it carved like butter but is very sturdy and resistant to damage, like wood.

The first sculpting pass for the Bloodstone Diorama
Below: A close up of the initial carving. It felt great to carve the canyon and imagine each pass of my tools as a season flowing by. In this way my canyon was made similarly to those in nature and it is this fact that helps to lend it authenticity.
A close up picture of the initial carving for the Bloodstone Diorama by Matt DiPietro
Here you can see that the canyon walls have been covered in a layer of Bondo spot filling putty. This stuff worked really great to fill the texture of the foam and create a sturdy shell that would not chip or flake. It is quite caustic though so ALWAYS use gloves and an organic respirator.
Bondo is layered onto the High Density foam of the Bloodstone Diorama by Matt DiPietro
This might be familiar to some who have done a big project like this… a rough checklist that I made to help me plan and estimate my time. Each box represents an hour of work. In the end it probably underestimated the time slightly. The list served it’s purpose of making the project seem possible, but I also hated that list after awhile!
A checklist of things to do from the work in progress of the Blodstone Diorama
The stock pose of the rider would not have worked for the diorama as he had his sword out and he was facing the wrong direction in the saddle. I got the pose I wanted with some added reigns and only a few minor alterations.
Commander Kraye Conversion for the Bloodstone Diorama
Next I added the ground work with rocks, sand, and pumice paste. I studied reference photos for the small details: for example all large stones on the floors of these canyons have round edges from being rolled by flood waters.
The figures are in their final positions and secured with a small brass tube. The tube allows me to place the figures in the diorama to check how they look, then I can remove them and feed the tube into my pin vice for painting.
Ground work for Bloodstone diorama
At this stage I make alterations to the canyon walls to open up additional views of the

The final positions of the figures and the walls are fixed with brass tubing so I could disassemble the diorama for airbrushing.

With the airbrush phase complete, I refined the piece with some brushwork. In the first stage of painting I aimed at refining the texture of the walls, using shadows picked out in blue.

Next I added vibrancy with some glazes. The depth is balanced with some yellow ochre highlights.

Now I brought in warm colors and applied large glazes using the two-brush blending method. This unifies the surfaces and softens the contrast which I felt was getting a little extreme. Now the colors are dramatic but not distracting.

Happy with the result of the painting on the walls and with all my boxes checked, I moved on to the river.

I started by painting the ground and rock. Then I sketched the flow of the river in blue, grey, and white ripples. The water of the river is built up in layers using acrylic gel, with cotton batting suspending the gel to give it volume. A mixture of blue and turquoise inks gave the water color on some of the deeper layers.

Splashes and waves can be built up over time with successive layers of gel. The splashes are finished using Tamiya clear gloss suspended by tiny pieces of cotton ball fluff.

Unfortunately, the painting of the figures was completed in a series of mad, coffee-fueled burns and no photos survived to document the painting! πŸ˜›

Bloodstone Diorama from Contrast Miniatures by Matt DiPIetro

I hope you enjoyed this Project Log. You can find pictures of the finished piece in the Gallery.


4 thoughts on ““Bloodstone” Project Log

    1. Unfortunately, you can’t even find it at the hardware store around here. You’ll have to order direct from a supplier. I have descent stock still so I haven’t had to find one myself. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help Chris!

  1. “Unfortunately, the painting of the figures was completed in a series of mad, coffee-fueled burns and no photos survived to document the painting!”
    Haha, I know that feeling well!

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