When Matthew Albanese first photographed these tiny worlds back in 2010, the images took the blogosphere by storm. Now, he’s finally allowed the internet a glimpse into his intense technique.

In order to create the life-like landscapes, Albanese spends months adding detail to miniature dioramas. Using a curious mixture of ingredients ranging from walnuts and moss to glitter and cooked sugar, he painstakingly adds realistic texture to each surface (he even used faux-fur to recreate the likeness of wind-swept grasslands).

He also uses various lighting effects and photography techniques to render each scene realistically; Albanese explains that “Every aspect from the construction to the lighting of the final model is painstakingly pre-planned using methods which force the viewer’s perspective when photographed from a specific angle. Using a mixture of photographic techniques such as scale, depth of field, white balance and lighting I am able to drastically alter the appearance of my materials.”

While the images themselves are breathtakingly beautiful, we feel the real magic lies in the tedious, painstaking process behind the art and holy shit, I don’t have the patience for that.