Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Water Effect Follow-Up

Back in August I took you through the struggles of my first attempt at blue water water effects.  If you remember, I was using acrylic gel medium for the first time.  I wanted some real depth to the water, so I got a tub of super heavy acrylic gloss medium and slathered it onto my test panel.  After a week, it looked like this:

I promised I would get back to you with the results once the gel clarified.  It is now nearly five months since I schmeared the test panel, and this is what it looks like:

As you can see, the super heavy gel medium holds whatever shape and surface marks you make (intentionally or not), so you can sculpt turbulence and waves into the medium, but you have to be very careful and deliberate with the technique you use to manipulate the gel.  Another problem is that the gel is too clear.  The transparency and clarity creates the illusion of a cup of sloshing water magically contained on the surface of a styrofoam panel colored with blue and ochre pigment.  Does not really evoke ocean.  I'm sure a skilled sculptor could make this work, especially for a large-scale display model.  For 28mm and smaller wargaming, though, this isn't going to cut it.

Finally, there are the bubbles deep inside the cured gel.  Again, a really talented sculptor could make these work.  I cannot.

So, in the end, I fall in line and recommend what so many other, more experienced water effect modelers have been saying all along: Create the illusion of depth with paint or pigments applied to the board surface and then use a thin coat(s) of acrylic gloss medium to model the water surface and waves.  Like this:

Game well!


  1. I love the look of that board. I can't wait to get a game in on it. I was thinking we could use the flocking device I created to add some static grass to the panels. That might help hide the seams for Fall-In.

    1. Patches of static grass would be great. We also need some jungle stands like Tim W. made for the Indochina game, and perhaps some floor mat rice paddies to mask seams.

      The first thing we need to make for this table for Cold Wars are Gucci fighting positions for the Marines. The rock wall segments are not going to cut it.