The Lair of the Daleks

The Lair of the Daleks

The weekend of 21st-22nd July, I have been asked to attend the Bradford Science Festival at the National Science and Media Museum  There I will be holding workshops on how to construct diorama’s based on the theme of Dr Who.

To prepare myself for the event I have decided to build a Dr Who diorama to take to the event.  With this prebuilt diorama I will be basing my workshops on how to construct this piece.

This diorama is scaled to the Dr Who’s 5.5″ figure range, which will have enough room to fill with Daleks, the Dr’s Tardis and the Dr.


I have cut a square base of 62″, cut two further pieces of foam board for back wall, standing at 15″ x 62″.  Across the back the wall I have constructed a raised platform for the Daleks roll across, I have also marked out an exit along that wall.





The left wall at present, I have cut out another entrance which I will build upon.  The idea is I will build out the wall making a walk way above and it will be a tunnel entrance.  I have marked the floor with how far I think it will come out.




 Building up the left side, creating the basic structure for the left entrance tunnel which will also ave a walkway above it.  Cutting a length of 10 mm foam board which will be the new entrance running from the side of the black walkway to the end of the floor, cutting two side panel for stability and a top piece to act as the walkway.  With the top piece I have added two notches which (when I cut the holes)  will slot into the side the wall.








I have placed two lengths in the corner to see what get an idea about placing a corner tower with a balcony, to which a Dalek can sit and over look the room.

I have placed magnetic strips to the base of each of the two walls and to the corresponding edges of the base piece, this is to make this diorama flat pack able.  I then cut three strips of 6mm foam board which I have used to create the tunnel for the left hand entrance.





Two corresponding  wholes where cut into the left wall which match up with the notches of the walkway, another piece of 6mm foam board was cut and placed onto the walkway to strengthen that section under the weight of the figures placed on it.

I cut a notch out of the walkway along the back wall for the left hand tunnel section to fit in.  The rear door way was also cut out along with two 6mm door frames for both entrances into the diorama.  Two long 10mm pieces of foam board where cut to create the central tower between each walkway, with a door cut out leading onto each level.








The Tower

With the all the main pieces cut, it was time to start developing and shaping them.  I started with the central tower, taking a compass and marking a quarter circle to the top corner.  I cut out the circles, sanding the them down and when combined together the tower now has a domed top.  Taking my carving tools I marked out paneling on either side, glued on the door frames, glued both pieces together.  A strip of magnetic tape was fixed to the edge of the tower and the another strip glued to the corresponding wall of the diorama. 





The Back Wall

The walkway which runs the length of the back wall was glued into place and the back wall had panels and a couple of Dalek style consoles etched onto it.





The Walkway

I wanted to have a couple of windows that run the length of the walkway.  I started to etch into the 10mm foam, three windows but when I had finished I was not happy with the way they looked.  I wanted the windows to standout because I will be placing images of space into them therefore to accomplish what I had in mind, I cut a piece of 6mm foam and used it to build up the three windows.




 A strip of 10mm foam board was cut into the shape of a hand rail, using a piece of sand paper I rounded the front edges.




 Finally I cut 3 pieces of 6mm foam board were cut placed on the front walkway extension to look like supports for the walk way.  Then paneling and consoles where etched into the front. 





A couple of pieces of foam pieces where stuck  together and cut into a hexagon and markings etched onto it.  It was glued onto a plinth, where a hole was cut into the  base for plinth to stand in.




Completed Build

With all the pieces built and markings etched into them the build of this diorama is completed and now ready to be painted.




Starting to paint

With the building work completed it was time to start painting this, I first gave all the walls a coat of black paint.  I have learnt from working with this type of insulation board that you can not use ordinary spray paints to cover vast areas, you need to use watered down acrylic paint or in this case a can of chalkboard spray paint.  I find this type of black spray paint, it doesn’t dissolve the foam board as a can of Humbrol acrylic spray does.  Once the walls and walkway were sprayed, I used a white spray paint to coat the floor.




Once this had dried I mixed up a very light grey acrylic diluted with water, then taking a sponge I went over all the areas I required it on.




Then taking my airbrush where I had mixed up a orange/green/silver mix, I sprayed over the recently grey painted area’s.  With the base coated completed I can now start building upon this.




After leaving it over night to dry, I placed it back together to get an idea on how that nights work looked and where to take it from there.







With the base coat dry, I began painting random wall panels using a combination of silver, gold, light and Gun Metal grey.  While they were drying I airbrushed the console, the walkway and windows with a rose gold. 





The edges around the walkway were airbrushed silver along with the frame work for the walkway, the doors and a light coat around the windows.  The front of the console was given a coat of gold and then dry brushed with black.








Taking a step back, I realised that there were areas where you could still the blue of the foam board.  I painted the back of the tower, the side of the walkway which I had left black and walls the tower covered using a combination of grey acrylic with water and applied it to the areas using a sponge.  Once that was done I gave the floor a second coat.





 Leaving those to dry, I turned my attention back to the walls and walkway, touching up the areas needed, painting the Daleks consoles, circles and monitors.  The front of the walkway I gave a second coat of silver, this time bring it round to the side, painting the newly marked out panels which I had missed.  All the doors got a second coat of silver and the windows by the walkway I have painted them black for now, with the plan of applying space imagery decals to them.








All that is left to do is paint the back of the walls black, apply the decals and weather this diorama.





I was looking at this diorama and something just didn’t look right about it.  It was the floor, to me it did not match flat against the everything.  After watching a LOT of Doctor Who recently to get inspiration for this project, you will notice (especially with the recent series’s)  that everything is metallic and shiny.  With that in mind I decided to not to weather this build except for the air vents, then using my  airbrush I gave the floor a coat of rose gold to bring it in line with the rest of the structure.





At first I was uncertain of it until the paint dried and Daleks where placed within.  You will see further down with what I mean!

While the floor was drying I then set to painting the backs of both the walls, with this being a single sided diorama, the backs of the walls were painted with a watered down solution of black acrylic paint.  This stops the blue foam bleed through when light is been shown from the back.  To help applying the paint I used a sponge to spread the paint evenly across the surfaces.






With the painting now completed I can now start adding accessories within to set the scene.  I have a broken Dalek figure which I am going to customise to make it look like Dalek Caan from the episode “Journey’s End”

You will see from the pictures below the updated floor and the Dalek in question I will be using.




Customizing a Dalek

As I stated above I want to customize a broken Dalek into Dalek Caan from “Journey’s End” episode.

Using my rotary took to cut the Daleks helmet off. I then cut the middle out of the grill section and glued the grill section back on top of the Dalek. Using the rotary tool to slice the removable front section in half, sanded it down and glued the sections to the front of the body as they do in the TV series.








Using hot glue and a toothpick to make the tendrils surrounding the Dalek’s mutant form. I used the toothpick to manipulate the hot glue around the body.

The pedestal Caan sits on is made from insulation foam board. With four extra parts cut to stand at each corner and made to look like vents. Painted with a dark metallic gold paint.





A bronze chain purchased from GreenStuff world was used to wrap over Caan and glued into place at each corner of the pedestal. Cables were with then fitted into the Dalek head, running down its body and fitted into the four vent posts.

The finished piece

With my custom Dalek Caan finished, the decals of outer space placed in the windows and the decals in the two small monitors, I think this diorama is now complete and ready for next weekends Bradford Science Festival.








Final Pictures





I have dedicated my Dalek Lair diorama to the museum as apart of the Doctor Who theme of the festival. I have been told it is going to used in the animation activities for schools, I’m very excited to hear this.

Jack Pitts

Jack Pitts

I was approached by a friend of mine, her son was participating in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and wanted to do a diorama for part of this award.  Jack is a fan of my facebook page and wondered if I could work with him.

Jack Pitts

To begin with, I asked Jack what he would like to build and to what scale.  After much deliberation, he settled for a Star Wars project to the scale of 3’75” figures.  His next decision was what to base this on, what film, to his mothers displeasure Jack forced himself to go through each of the Star Wars films until he found his inspiration and settled on an idea.  In the end he decided he wanted to build the Emperor’s throne room from Return of the Jedi.  After the decision was made, materials need to be bought and skills had to be taught.  Jack and I would meet up every week for an hour, in that time he would show me what he had done and how he could improve on it. 

Throughout the weeks, he has created a wonderful diorama, invested in the figures to go with it and this is what he created.  I am very proud of him for his accomplishment. 

Here is the gallery of his journey from start to finish, I hope you enjoy viewing them as I did working with him.