Saturday, 22 June 2013

Testing the Waters (Part 2/2) - Using epoxy resin to make water in a diorama

In the first part of my initial attempt at creating realistic water in a miniature diorama, I had outlined the steps involved in constructing the "vessel" to contain the body of water as well as painting a colour scheme for water found in still ponds or hot springs. To "make" the water, I used the Tamiya Clear Epoxy Resin, which just happened to be the most convenient product available at the time. In the future, I might try the Woodland Scenics Realistic Water but it's the Tamiya one for this project.  

Tamiya Clear Epoxy Resin was used to "make" water
Add resin and hardener in a 2:1 mixture and stir

Detailed instructions were included in the box and they specifically called for the use of a weighing scale to measure out the 2:1 ratio needed the mixture of resin to hardener. As I did not have a scale with a display of 1 gram increments I had to improvise by measuring the ratio using volume instead of weight. Please note this is not the proper way to do it because both the resin and hardener would have different densities. The mixture was stirred well before it was poured into the shallow hole.

Resin and hardener mixture was poured into the shallow hole

Tamiya recommends using its enamel paints to colour the resin mixture. But I decided to try using Citadel acrylic paints instead and they seemed to work well enough though only time will tell for sure if there are any side effects to using acrylic paint on the Tamiya epoxy resin. In this project, I used a clear epoxy resin for the water and not the coloured epoxy resin as I was unsure of the side effects.

Before adding paint (left); after adding paint (right)

With temperatures reaching as high as 35 degrees Celsius where I'm at, the epoxy resin hardened enough to be removed from the "mould" within six hours of mixing the resin and hardener. But it is best to leave it for about 24 hours to ensure proper hardening. There is a possibility I may have added too much hardener because the final epoxy resin product looked a tad cloudy (a known side effect).

Hardened clear epoxy resin
Hardened epoxy resin with Citadel acrylic paint added to it (or is it Kryptonite?)

Final results were a mixed bag of nuts (see pictures below). It was fairly realistic for still or even very slow moving water. However, it did lack the "wow" factor of say ripples or small waves to depict at least some movement of water. Other than that, I was fairly happy with the outcome.    

After epoxy resin had hardened: Realistic looking still water
Front and back views of the pond / hotspring
I had attempted to sculpt some waves on the epoxy while it was in the process of drying - done at hourly intervals to determine at which stage the epoxy was the most pliable. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful as the epoxy resin always resumed its original shape after I had tried sculpting it.

A quick search online shows that there are in fact better alternatives:
(a) Make a mould of sea waves out of silicone for the epoxy resin to set in. But needless to say, my skill level is way too low to try this technique.
(b) Use another chemical product such as the Woodland Scenics Water Effects which can be applied on top of the hardened epoxy resin. This is one option I am considering for future projects.

Thanks for reading and until the next post, stay happy and well. 


  1. Nicely done man. The color you chose really make the water look real. Now all you need is one of those female figures you so love to paint have a dip ;)

    1. Thanks man! Ha ha .. yeah ... painting a beautifully sculpted female figure having a dip sure beats a diorama with a plague bearer having a swim =)


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