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Diorama Approach

Diorama Approach  

9 members have voted

  1. 1. How do you guys approach making your dioramas?

    • Strict (I make a set plan and stick to it, Keeps me organized)
    • Adaptive (I make a sketch and develop it as I go along, adapting in some aspects of the layout but it would come out as I've planned it)
    • Rough (I just sketch what I want on a piece of paper and I work at it. I'll adapt and the end result might be completely different from what I planned it before)
    • Controlled Chaotic (I just write the measurements, get some track and make it along. Revising as I go.)
    • Completely Chaotic (Get some trains, get some track. Lay it on the floor. I'll switch up or put something whenever I like.)
    • Other
  2. 2. Do you stick with one brand of track/theme or do you mix it up

    • One brand, one theme. Easier to manage in the layout
    • I mix things up. Not everybody makes double slips or threeways
    • Other

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So I've been in a conversation between a couple of diorama creators. As well as when some prospective club members ask on how to best approach this hobby. 


I personally do a rough sketch due to budgetary constraints. Because I know turnouts don't grow on trees. But when I do find a cheap turnout, I'll put it on. When I find a better turnout, I'll put that one instead. If I find a bridge, I'll use it despite not having it in the original sketch. I'll continue taking things down and adding things on until I have no more room to improvise. Unlike my labwork I have a really chaotic approach on model railroading on my own diorama.


This approach appalled a lot of the senior modellers who follow a certain plan to the end. They may argue that it's cheaper to have a full plan and strictly sticking on it. Getting exact components and making it properly as planned. I find this is the most common approach for those that have extensive knowledge in model railroading, and know exactly what they need or want on their diorama.


Although for new players, I observe that this isn't the best way to approach it. Because when they start do the main and strict planning, they noticed that Double Crossovers and turnouts are so expensive they get turned off by it. From what I could observe, people are more inclined to join this hobby when they plan as they go along, expanding from the oval since they're hooked with making their tracks more elaborate.


There are also some really chaotic planners. Who just browse the stores, find what they like, and lay it out on the floor or on the table without planning it properly. 


So how do you guys approach your own dioramas, and do you stick with one track manufacturer or mix and match? 

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I would study Ttrak. It’s by far the largest example of diorama building (it was adapted out of diorama building actually) out there for small and beginners or for master diorama makers (Lee Monaco the originator was a master diorama maker). It really lets folks do the full range of your options you are questioning and is pretty versatile. It’s not about the details but allowing flexibility nand an inexpensive way to get going and then, most important in the long run, ability to run together and form clubs of just loose meetups to run trains.

the main thing is if you want to do any sort of group activity it must be flexible and let folks do what they want/can do but still allow folks to do something together as well. If you try to do something that requires only established modelers that have a hard plan (it can be hard to get a group of experienced modelers to agree as well) it will be very intimidating to beginners to join.


doing a “club” layout can really be a lot of work and requires a lot of skill and cooperation. Beginners may not be able to contribute much but what to learn while constructing which is great but takes a lot more effort and time to do well. We have been thru several iterations of a club layout in the last 15 years here. We learned more and more as things went along, but also the large amount of group work that must be done on a club layout can create some real issues that can be hard to solve. Just having an easy place you can store and work on even a highly portable layout can be a challenge as it’s been for us recently. We have gone to Ttrak as our main club exhibit layout (it use to be just a fillin for us when space, transportation or participation was limited) after the latest layout got stalled. It’s worked well and gotten more folks involved in creating stuff as we are spread out in the area and folks can work at home. Beginners can also get started on their own modules and easy for other members to help a little here and there as needed.

downside with Ttrak is it’s not really exciting track plans, but you can mix it up some. It’s really about the mini scenes and group participation that’s really flexible and can grow easily with out a lot of planning.


mixing track with a group can cause confusion fast, so would take more planning and coordination. Main thing again is if you want a lot of folks playing together simplification helps to standardize. Yes more boring and limited, but easier to keep things working together. Like all modeling it’s always about tradeoffs.

actually getting some track and experimenting on a table top is a very good way to plan by playing and learning what works well with the trains and for them thru experience. Many can’t visualize well from track planning software and experimenting with stuff in real life can really help!


in the end there is no one right way to go at modeling it’s what’s the best for each person that important to remember, so why important to keep the flexibility in there for each member to find their own joy. On the biggest turnoff and killers I’ve witnessed in the hobby and been told about over and over is one modeler saying this is how you HAVE to do this or that.





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