The model making nerd
I work as a programmer, internet caretaker by day, and sometimes at night when I reach for my pliers and brushes and mess up on my dioramas I scream “Ctrl+ Z, Ctrl+ Z!!” that’s it, there is no undo command when you do dioramas.

On the top of this I always wondered how my knowledge in computer graphics could help me do those things.

A few years ago, I tried to use a graphic software to draw plans, and even 3d software to simulate some proportions, but I quickly realized I was spending way too much time doing this, and that cutting bits of cardboard and holding them with blue tack was an easier option.

But I always kept in a corner of my mind that there must be a way to apply that knowledge to my dioramas especially because I am that kind of scratchbuilder that I don’t really like cutting plastic, and the idea of letting some devices/tools do the tedious work was certainly appealing. And then I found it!

Last year when doing my Izmail torpedoboat, I was pissed to have to spend quite a few euros to buy a small photoetch grid so that I could do the gun cradle. Then I realized that the pattern of the holes was not the right one and on the top of this, the grid was not big enough and I had to cobble the whole thing with leftovers so that I could cover the entire surface.

After a few hours spent on this I took an oath never to be swindled this way anymore and that as long as I was ready to build every element by myself, photoetch should be included in that oath.

So I basically spent the following year looking on and about “how to do homemade photoetch”.

I discovered that the main difficulty was indeed to design the fret.
Once everything is drawn, the rest is either a question of big bucks if you want to buy some good quality material, or if you want to play it cheapo a question of being very wise. I tried to comply with the second option with more or less success because “wise I ain’t”.

I used to have a teacher in high school that made a big difference between the success of his failings and failing of his failings. I can say my first attempts at homemade photoetch where of the latter.

Last June saw me trying to succeed my fret almost every day and failing every time miserably to the point of not believing in it anymore until I tried something new which finally succeeded. So I will try in the following lines to tell roughly what you should do and the different pits in which I fell.

About the Author

About Jean-Bernard André (jba)

Here are my 10 rules for better dioramas! 1 -The diorama is everything modelling is about, it's the meeting point of the manufactured object that is the model and the human input, you can –and have to- tell stories with dioramas. 2 -When doing your diorama you should not be influenced by any tr...


Hi Claude -well this expo was at half an hour *walking* from my home so.. I arrived at the opening at 9am on saturday, left 10 mn later and took the dio back 10 mn before the closing on Sunday so you see, I am not very good at public relations It was a fig show called Lugdunum, and no i didn't win anything -not that it was important indeed plenty of pics of the show thanks for asking anyway here
FEB 29, 2008 - 02:44 AM
Simply superb, and forget taking your work to model shows, JBA, you need a studio of your own! Peter F
MAR 26, 2008 - 08:06 PM
Thanks Peter, but honestly i 've always been knowing my own diorama promised land was certainly not paved with gold medals from shows But i would still go for the friends. maybe see you at Telford in one year or 10!
MAR 28, 2008 - 12:54 AM
Jean-Bernard, Your work as always is just spectacular. I hope to someday do a diorama so fully realized. I do follow my interests now and let them inspire me. I am growing very tired of the same old types of subjects. I am starting a figure company with my best friend and our subject matter is inspired by history, but civilian history rather then military history. Every one who has seen our first three figures has really liked them. I only hope that our figures add to the hobby the way your work does. Best Jeff
APR 17, 2008 - 03:24 PM
I just saw this, and JBA, my friend, all I can say is, you are a genius. While most dioramists try to faithfully replicate reality, you go much further, and try to replicate a moment of your self. Fantastic work.
APR 18, 2008 - 08:03 AM
So well, I just caught your comments while in a cybercafe in the "worse" kind of French wild west i could be stucked in and you can imagine those really cheers me up Jeff I can only pray for your new company to be successful! And thanks David as always (very long time, very no see!!) may your inspiration still be there wherever in the world you are right now bye for now my friends JB
APR 22, 2008 - 01:53 AM
JBA I really admire your creative skills,such as using cigarette paper for clothes and such. Taking the time to explain your techniques and the reasons behind them is truly a learning experience for me. It would be a joy to see your projects in person. Keep it up! rR
APR 22, 2008 - 02:56 AM
Wow! Just amazing.
MAR 07, 2010 - 02:20 AM
HI JBA For some reason I never replied/posted first time around ... so I´ll do so this time. Have always loved your models, and its always great to see them brought back again. Even the still water looks great!!
MAR 07, 2010 - 02:39 AM
Thanks Michael for unearthing such an old thing, it still looks okay after 3 years.. Than you Franck, the "reverse water" method is completely crazy to be honest and I wouldn't do this again. but i still like the way i treated the green colours. Someday i might change the guy which is the weak point of the scene
MAR 07, 2010 - 11:30 PM