This was inspired from a how-to that i saw from Joe Dios with a few modifications I made on my own.

The materials I used were simple.

Boxes (two boxes per building) $.48 to $.58 each

Black Foam Board $2.97

White Foam Board $2.97 (x5)

Poster Board $.98

Shish-Ka-Bob skewers $?

Package of square dowels $2.98

Tools needed are elmers glue, scissors, box cutter, ruler, pencil, paper


We want to glue the boxes open. I left two flaps of one of the boxes open for sidewalk reference. Place a large book or other heavy object on top for weight while the glue dries.

The two open flaps will be the bottom of the first floor. While the glue is drying, cut a square piece out of the white foam board, four inches larger than the box. When the glue is dry enough, glue this square piece on top of the bottom box, then glue the second box on top. The foam board should only stick out from two sides, for the balcony.

Again, cut a square piece of foam board, the same size as last. Glue this on top for the roof. We now have the basic structure of the building. Place heavy object on top for weight. This is a good time to determine if you will have open windows or not. This one will not.

Step 2

The glue is drying, but we have more we can do. Sidewalks! The basic idea of this set is to be modular. We will not glue sidewalks down to the street. But we do need to make them. Your sidewalks should be four inches wide, and 1/8 of an inch wider than the box it will "frame". Use your box cutter and ruler to cut a nice straight edge. If this is a corner piece, cut the sidewalk accordingly. Remember to round the corner for a realistic look. Place this around the base of the building, but DO NOT glue it down yet. We need it out of the way for later.

Step 3

The glue has dried. Now we will face the walls with white foam board. The purpose of the foam board is to add thickness to the walls, especially in windows and rooftops.

This is where the sidewalk has purpose. This gives you the gap spacing for the final step later. When wrapping the wall, be sure to add a bit to your size to fully cover the box and the tickness of the other walls, (add about a 1/4 inch to well demensions). Also, if using open windows, be sure to cut them out of the box and foam board. Be sure these cuts match.

When all your walls are up, take your dowels and cut them to the size you need for posts. I then wrap the posts, although this step is not necessary. Exposed posts are just as good as wrapped ones.

When you have all you walls up, you are ready to tape up all the corners and seams. Any seams, all corners, edges, window sills, tape it all up. Try to keep the tape as smooth as possible. This will give a smooth look after the paint dries. Now, remove the sidewalk.

Step 4

Paint the building. I have found that one pass is all you need. The foam board will soak up some of the paint, giving a nice weathered appearance. Be sure to paint under the balcony and roof eaves and the floor of the balcony and roof top. I used Kraylon Primer spray, so the paint dried fairly quickly. Now glue the sidewalk to the open flaps.

Step 5

Allow the paint to thouroughly dry before proceeding. During this time, you can find your doors and windows. I printed them from Google searching doors and windows. With scrap pieces of foam board, cut strips about 1/4 inch thick and no less than 5" long. When you print your doors and windows, you can cut these more to size. Glue them in place. The building is done. Your dours should be about 4 1/2" high and roughly 2 1/2" wide. All of this is done through visual reference, so have an action figure nearby for reference.

Further diorama pieces. The black foam board is your street. Place the building in a corner of the black foam board and it is ready to go. Things you can add are stop signs, posters, traffic cones, fire hydrants, (I'm still working on that one). Little details will bring the street alive.

This building is meant to be modular, so do not glue it to the black foam board. You can add more buildings and more "roads" as space permits. The two buildings on one black foam board that you see here cost about $20, estimated. Cheap, portable, light weight, and sturdy. Perfect for the tight budget.