The original question appeared on the Forgotten Force mailing list concerning displaying action figures. I think the ensuing discussion of approaches is of value to modellers of all genres...
I've also started my Mos Eisly diorama. Heres a question, is there any way to have 'sand' on the ground without the hassle of real sand? I was thinking glue it down but that would require a tremendous amount of glue. Any suggestions?
You could use spray adhesive, I use it for mounting my custom cards. It you want a thicker layer try "Aleene's Tacky Glue" it is thicker than Elmers and dries clear. It comes in 4oz to 8oz bottles. Look for it at major craft stores.
Use the same 3M spray adhesive you use on cards. I used this helping a freind's kid with a school project. If you use some talcum powder as the sand it will look more to scale too. Mix a little salt in with the talcum and it will give a really nice variation to the sand. When you are done put a layer of accrylic spray seal over the top to keep the sand from spilling out. You can probably drill small hole and add pegs so your figures will stand.
Is this going to be permanent? If it is you might want to think about using some sort of plaster. Once the semi-dry plaster can then be textured. Once dry you can then paint on various sand hues. You need to think about scale. A grain of sand in the hand of the 3 3/4 in. figure is pretty big. (IMHO)
real sand can be easy and permanent. collect a coffee jar of sand with the color you want. sift it to get the junk and large pieces of sand out. take a pump spray bottle with water and a couple drops of detergent in it. this is to bread the water tension. mix white glue with water to a about a 50/50 ratio. spread the sand where you want it. wet it thoroughly with the water/detergent mist. with an eye dropper soak the sand with the water/white glue mixture. when it dries it will be as hard as a rock and still look like loose sand. it is cheap and moves quickly.
Another tip for your sandy Tatooins section, that I had emailed privately to [him] is to use a watered down yellow emulsion paint, or yellow poster paint and add tons of sand to the surface before it has dried. Wait until it dries and then brush any loose material off. This has worked for me in the past.