Make A Moonlit Effect For A Diorama

Add special effects to a diorama.

A diorama is a miniature world, a landscape, cityscape or historical event depicted in a small, three-dimensional model. It is a world held in a box, window, glass showcase, man-made cave or simply set up on a table top. But when you need to add a dramatic effect such as a moonlight night, it is best to set the diorama up in a box behind some type of glass facade so you can create that night-time effect.


1. Locate a box large enough to hold your diorama. Decide which side of the box will be the front of the box.

2. Paint a night on a piece of poster board slightly larger than the top of the box. Draw and paint the stars white and yellow first. Paint around the stars with black, blue and grey acrylic paints to get the night effect

3. Cut 4 to 5 tiny holes about ¼ inch in diameter at different points in the night scene poster to allow light to filter through the poster board, helping to create a starry, moonlight effect. Glue small, clear acrylic beads to the holes you made to allow a more diffused light to shine through them.

4. Paint the moon on the back of the box interior and paint the stars yellow and white. Paint with dark blue or black around the moon. Make several perforations around the moon you painted, using an ice pick or any other sharp object.

5. Wrap a portable battery LED light with chicken wire. You want to use the round, portable emergency light lamps that adhere to walls or ceilings. You can find these at most home-accessory stores or large general-merchandise retailers. Extend the chicken wire about ¼ inch over the lamp front to keep the lamp from overheating the cardboard and causing a fire.

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6. Place the lamp in its chicken wire cage on the outside of the box where the moon is located. Adhere the chicken wire to the box by threading thin wire through the rear of the box and tying the lamp in place. Cut the excess wire with wire cutters.

7. Cut a window out of the front, leaving a 2-inch to 3-inch front frame on the box. This will be the window through which viewers will see your diorama. Make the framed window large enough to fully view the diorama. Cut a piece of acrylic acetate that is 1 inch wider than your frame. Glue this to the inside of the box frame, using a glue stick or white glue.

8. Set up your diorama objects and models facing the front acetate window.

9. Curve the night poster board around the top of the box. By adding a curved top, you do not distract the viewer with box corners, seams and edges. Cut the box tops to fit around the curved night scene and glue them snugly to the poster board edges.

10. Turn on your battery-operated lamp to allow the light to diffuse through the moon.