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1/35 diorama Sokol, made by Jean-Bernard in the fall 2007. More pictures you can find here.


Jean - Bernard André a.k.a. JBA Diorama, Jean Diorama and Nicolas Cabaret is modeler from France, 45 y.o., Teacher in Programming, by profession 

Hello Jean-Bernard, its pleasure for me to have this conversation with you! Will not ask you since when you start modeling, cause you have a lot of information about your modeling journey since 1979 on your Blog. But can you remember what was the thing that lead you to those Airfix figures back in 1979?

I liked playing with those soft plastic Atlantic toy soldiers you know, and then I realized I wanted something more "permanent" than just having the toy soldiers scattered through my rooms. I loved the intricate details (for me) of those. I wanted to have objects that meant something about my life on my shelves 

Since we are in the beginning, why you use different artistic names? Why you created Nicolas Cabaret? Will there be and new names in the future?

Haha! Two reasons for Nico - first I wanted to start again from nothing and get real constructive comments again. And then I wanted to feel free to put out harsh stuff. But I don't care for either now so Nico I might ressucitate again but not now .. yeah I might use a third name one day though for different projects and ideas.

When look over your dioramas I have the feeling that back in 1992, you was more oriented to sci-fi landscapes from other planets, I speak in general for Orange 0, and Helium. And there are not so mutch water based dioramas? 

Well there always were waters in my dioramas since about 1983.. now no more than it used to. Orange 0 is a sort of mix of scenes from Tarkovski's Stalker and Sharuna Bartas' 3 days movie. The girl was modeled after Russian actress Katerina Golubeva. That's my own planet, the one I build because I watched movies, love some artists lived and lived again different lives.. everything melted built that planet. Helium is me being very happy :)


Orange 0
Orange 0, completed by Jean in summer 1993, more pictures you can find following this link.
Helium, completed by Jean in 1993, more pictures you can find here


Now, when you said it I realized that Orange 0 and Helium are in fact are dioramas with water. At first sight I accept them as desert ones. But there is tin layer water on them...well I need a glasses. :) You often represent Russian stuff in your dioramas. Do you have some Russian blood in you? Because the way you represent it is very native. 

When I was about 12, my Godfather brought be back from USSR the Russian legends as illustrated by Bilibin. Then my grandmother was a harsh anti communist and thought the Russian were the devil -and I always had some sympathies for the devil Then I was brought in an era when everybody thought would vanish in a Nuclear Holocaust because of the Russians etc... Also, about Russia I meant this was sort of a common element throughout my life, but I really stared loving the thing when I came through the cinema of Tarkovski.

Yes, STALKER  or Tarkovski is great movie. But you dont make "nuclear russians"? In your works there are some very natural scenes at the same time full with some "mystery and creepy ghost presence" I mean Baba Yaga's, The Dead Travel Fast...

Precisely "the fantasy of the everyday life". I can't do anything that's not overworldly to some extent. But then don't wait for me to add robots or stuff like that in my dioramas. it is normal life - filtered through strong alcohols. Well I always had that old idea of arranging the meeting Barabarossa and Baba Yaga.   

As far as I can see - you're not rivet counter!?  

Rivet counter.. not really though I like to model exact thing I try and hide all the tricky parts through bumps of terrain when i'm too bored.

The Wrath of God feat. Ramzan Kadirov, diorama made by Jean in 2015. More pictures you can find here.
Birds 2
Birds II, made by Jean in 2015. More pictures you can find here.


Whats wrong with the tanks? Why you're angry on them and often sunk them in water?

Well, when you sunk tanks you don't have to model the tracks! Aftermarket tracks are really expensive. :)

You try to make me believe that aftermarket tracks are more expensive than the products for water!? 

Haha! Its true! 40€ Modelkasten IS2 tracks, 39€ for 750ml Resin of the Gedeo brand.. I usually do 2 dioramas at least with one pot of this resin. There is some truth about the tracks, but the general reason is that I put the *less* details possible in my dioramas because I hate spending too much time on an idea than it's really worth. I like to see those big and powerful things incapacitated you see. There is a beauty in that.

Will not ask you how you exactly make the water. I am aware you have a lot of info about it on your blog. So, can you share - do there is something as ritual or technical stuff that you do in every build?

I clean the workbench. :) No I really try to make the best of my modeling time - for instance you spend less time on water if you model water for 2 dioramas at the same time etc.

In my opinion you're more artist than modeler I mean you paint over the diorama as on canvas. What kind and brand of paints you like to use, or you don't have favorites?

Paints, yeah I use that same technique: Alclad primer, Tamiya paints for base coats, then Mr Paint for lighting effects, Ammo and Vallejo acrylics for wet on wet techniques, re-Mr paint for light, Ammo's paraphernalia -you know filters, grease, pigments - and then re-Mr paint for more lighting. 

Mr paint I love because those are inks, they are very thin - if you prefer, if you spray yellow over blue, you'll get perfect shiny green. They're really good to overlay effects, especially when diluting them. Have a look at the blue effects on my Ramzan diorama to see what I mean -or the high shines of most of my recent stuff. Mr. Paint are a league on their own. I can only compare them with Citadel inks.

About the artist thing, that's always been pretty funny because I have always been surrounded by "real" artists you know, musicians, painters etc etc who always looked down on me with my lowly dioramas, and now I mostly have a lot more success than they will ever do. :)


Red Riding Hood
The Red Riding Hood, diorama completed by Jean in 2014. More pictures you can find here.
Galilée, made by Jean in 2008. More pictures, info and video you can find here.


What is the work of yours that youre most proud of?

The ones where I really put 100% of my life in like red riding Hood, some of the Baba Yaga series, Galilée...The Baba Yaga series are my most personal dioramas. 

What is your last project, or may be a future one?

I decided to be far present this year, I model at the same speed but I won't show the stuff that much anymore. If you want to know, I finished 3 small dioramas today! I keep those for me for the time being, Baba Yaga like stuff. I need a few weeks to know whether they're cool or not!

Finish them today? Not build em today, right? And why few weeks waiting, because of the paints?

Finished today! I'm not so fast, it's just that I rationalize a lot the time. Yes, oil paints for the figures have to dry, then the figs must be varnished etc etc. The order is:  Tamiya-> Mr Paint ->mat varnish ->oils.

Your dioramas I find made on way that they have what to see from every angle. As "pictures from all sides". How you do it? 

"Pictures from all sides" ooooh yes. :) At the beginning of the 2000's I learned computer 3D and you can put your camera from every angle imaginable and it works. It must be the same for a diorama - depending on the height of the viewer, the height at which is put the diorama or even the kind of surrounding light, watching a diorama must be a unique experience.


Baba Yaga
Baba Yaga, diorama made by Jean in 2012. More pictures you can find here.
Dead Travel Fast
Dead Travel Fast, diorama made by Jean in 2014. More info you can find here.


You use different kits from different brands as models and figures. Do you have some three favorite brands? Brands that you know that when see the box, to be sure you will like the content. 

 I don't like Miniart because of the broken parts. Otherwise.. not really. You see there is about 5 kits in my unbuilt stash which is extremely few compared to the modelers I know.. I certainly like what are putting out Meng, Takom and Trumpeter/HB there is a BMD-2, a T-80, a Su-15, a 85mm Russian AA gun, the Skoda 76 mm .. a Spitfire and a zero in 1/72 and *that's it*

Do your hobby caused you problems at home with the bellowed one? And how you manage it to find the peace path? 

When I met my wife, I was a freelancer in France's leading Rock mag, I was drinking loads and going to bed late. Now if I touch a drink I can't model and i am in bed at 11PM so there's been some progress you see.. it may still be a bit tense when I move the diorama stuff in the flat and forget to clean the window ledge where i stock all my stuff afterwards. My wife doesn't like my dioramas much but she doesn't stop me doing any either.  She told me once: "when I ask you something and I realize yoèu are actually thinking about your dioramas" that's the real reason why. that's a very feminine reason.

So in fact she don't like the time you spend there, not the dioramas itself. Yea, same story everywhere. :) If one like your style and want to follow your works, where it can be done?

Well, my site is still my main reference JBA Diorama 1/35 scale model dioramas Science Fiction & Word War Sadly the whale won't make it! It is so big it takes half of my suitcase. However I intend to come in Holland with 3 of the big ones - Ramzan, Hell and View from a Bridge. Then about half of the littles ones I did those past few years, including the whole Baba yaga Series. And too though it's mostly empty Nicolas Cabaret - Diorama maker.

Thank you for this conversation Jean!



What Freedom!, diorama completed by Jean in 2015. More pictures you can find here.



#3 RE: Jean Diorama - 'The fantasy of the everyday life.'StNickBG 2015-12-18 23:51
Agree! And together with that he is very earth and kind person.
#2 DrJohn Harding 2015-12-17 13:43
Incredible dioramas, such imagination and the quality is superb
#1 Jeanlouis carabott 2015-12-17 09:33
Jean is an awesome modeller I have been admiring his creative works since I first saw them on the web. A true inspiration in the modelling world.