Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Experimenting with Water Effects and Realistic Water

At the back of my mind is this nagging itch to create and build a diorama that has lots of water. There is something about realistic looking water in miniature scale just seems so cool to me. Previously I had tried using epoxy resin to create a mini water diorama. This time around, I tried using a more user-friendly (and noob-proof) product to create a very quick and simple sea-themed base for yet another miniature I am working on, the Ax Faction Victorian Darling aka Kraken Hunter.

Creating a quick and simple sea-themed base Woodland Scenics products
Woodland Scenics Realistic Water (left) and Water Effects (right)

Step 1: A square piece was cut out from an IKEA cork pot stand for use as the base. I did toy with the idea of applying some plaster rolls on one side to prevent leakage of the Woodland Scenics Realistic Water through the cork. Instead, curiosity got the better of me and I went ahead without applying any plaster rolls on the cork's surface just to see if any leakage would occur.

It all starts with a cork base

Step 2: A basecoat of Citadel Ceramite White acrylic paint was applied on the cork base.

Basecoated in Ceramite White

Step 3: This was followed by a 50:50 mid-tone mix of Citadel Regal Blue and Mordian Blue paints.

Mid-tone was a 50:50 mix of Regal Blue and Mordian Blue

Step 4: Highlights was painted using different combinations of Citadel Regal Blue, Mordian Blue, Hawk Turquoise, Shadow Grey and Russ Grey. My aim was to create the colours of the sea.

Using blue, turquoise and grey to recreate the colours of the sea

Step 5: Using super glue, a 'fence' was build around the painted cork base in order to contain the Woodland Scenics Realistic Water when it is poured onto the surface of the painted cork base.

Creating a super glue fence to contain the realistic water

Step 6: Very minimal leakage occurred when the Realistic Water was poured into the 'fenced-in' area. However, enough of the Realistic Water had seeped into the porous cork (despite having a few layers of acrylic paint on it) that I had to pour an additional layer of the Woodland Scenics product onto the cork base, that is after allowing the initial layer to cure for 24 hours. The need for a second layer of Realistic Water could also have been required due to shrinkage of the initial layer.

Woodland Scenics Realistic Water was poured into the 'fenced-in' area
Close up of the realistic water effects after two layers, each curing for 24 hours

Step 7: After the two separate layers of Realistic Water had had time to properly cure (a total of 48 hours), I gently squeezed out some thin lines of the Woodland Scenics Water Effects onto the dried layers of Realistic Water. I then used a toothpick to rough up the lines somewhat to look like white caps on an ocean. The Water Effects were allowed to dry for 24 hours, after which it became clear.

Woodland Scenics Water Effects were added to the cured Realistic Water
Water Effects became clear after drying overnight

Step 8: Citadel Skull White was then painted onto the clear (and dry) Water Effects to make them look like white caps on an ocean. The overall effect could have been better if I had made the 'fenced-in' area deeper. But because this was a test piece, I had earlier decided to leave it shallow. 

Step 9: I placed the Ax Faction Victorian Darling aka Kraken Hunter's base on top to see how the whole thing would look like. It's painfully obvious that the whole thing will look better if I do not use the round plastic base. It's either that or paint the black round plastic base in ocean colours.

Losing the round plastic base will make things more realistic
Pieces of the Ax Faction Victorian Darling aka Kraken Hunter

Ax Faction's Victorian Darling has fantastic details and is already looking like a fun piece to work on. At this stage, I still have no idea what colours she or the kraken tentacles are going to be. For sure it will have to be something that goes with the greenish blue of the ocean. Decisions, decisions!



  1. Interesting work, may be one day on my table!

    1. For sure your water effects will look much better than mine. :)

  2. Damn nice. I love that lady. Heavy gels work quite well too and let you create/ add some white caps with a little white paint mixed in. A test piece i did a while ago (scroll to the bottom)


    Also if you want to create water with more depth i recommend this stuff:


    1. Thanks as always Zab for the superb reference info. ^_^

      By the way, what is gloss gel? (Duh ... noob question alert.) any particular brand that is easy to use?

    2. Heavy gloss gel is basically a very thick gloss coat that maintains some it's texture as it dries. i think it was den of imagination who did a whole post on how they did their water with heavy gel. I use Liquitex, but Golden is great too.

  3. Very nice test piece, I would lose the black plastic base as well

    1. Thanks Andrew. I just wanted to see if I could quickly churn out a sea-themed base without too much work. Well, I could but it doesn't look that good obviously. Also it had to be flat to accomodate the black plastic base (which I will most likely get rid off if I can do a better sea-themed base) ... this meant no fancy waves with the water effects which equals dull flat looking calm sea. :)

  4. i knew this very interesting product, but never used it, so thanks for sharing!
    i used some Das modelling paste to create water: it's cheap and can be easily sculpted and painted.
    if you want, you can take a look here:
    let me know if this helps you!

    1. Thanks for sharing luca ... it's always good to be aware of the many types of products out there. :)

      I think there are many other better ways to use the Woodland Scenics Water Effects product but I am just keeping it very simple as I have not used it before. I might try more complicated waves to see if the shapes hold and share in future posts so that people can learn from any mistakes that I make.

  5. That's a great tutorial, thank you.

    1. It's less of a tutorial and more some experimenting to see what I can get but distilled down into a series of steps to share in my experience e.g. where I went wrong etc. Phew that was indeed a mouthful from me. :)

  6. Water has always been one of those really cool things which is difficult to pull off. Looks like you're on the right track. Good luck! Looking forward to see it done.

    1. Thanks. :) But to be honest the final results didn't look very good. Maybe it's because Realistic Water is more suited to calm water surfaces such as a pond, lake or slow moving river whereas the Water Effects coupled with some creative sculpting would have been better in creating dynamic sea waves.

  7. Paint water is always a mess, it doesn't matter if you are painting it in an illustration or for a diorama, but your results are very good indeed :)

    1. Thanks. ^_^ I have always been fascinated by the sea ever since I saw Jaws the movie as a small boy. More terrified than fascinated actually. Now that I recall, my dearly departed grandma made things worse by buying some cheap but realistic looking plastic sharks and dumping them into my bath. O_O


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