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I was wondering if anyone has used gel medium for making water effects and how it went? I'm making a diorama and need to do water effects but the base doesn't really allow for me to pour resin. I'm making a little stream and need to figure out the best way to do this. Or if there are any other easy ways to do water effects would also be appreciated.

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Last winter I did a bunch of research on this and have experimented a bit with different things. I'll give you the full rundown even if it can't be used on a small base.

 

Years ago I had a bottle of Vallejo still water effects. Pros it didn't need to be mixed and it dried nice and clear. Cons it's runny so you need to have a non leaking "pocket" for it to dry in and it dried out in the bottle before I could use it all, also needed to special order.

 

Right now I have some Smooth On clear resin. Pros it makes really nice crystal clear water and can be poured in thick layers. Cons Bit expensive, runny the same as the Vallejo but it hasn't dried out yet, 2 part resin needing mixing and very runny.

 

Gloss modge podge. Heard about this from Lukesapps (great youtube channel for terrain). Pros Cheap, easy to find, easy to paint on, only runs a bit and easy to clean up. Cons takes a lot of thin layers to build any depth and not as good looking as the resins. May use this to paint on other terrain that I want a damp look to.

 

Varnish Pros available everywhere, easy to paint on. Cons tough to get perfectly clear and needs multiple thin layers for best effect.

 

Gel medium Pros shapeable (somewhat), not runny, stays where you put it. Cons bit expensive, not as shiny as the resin.

 

I've done some little things with all of these. For final effect I love the look of the Smooth On resin but it's the most work and I have 2 liter cans of it to use up before it goes bad. I'm seeing lakes and swamps in my near future. I've done 4+ feet of rivers using modge podge with some of the heavy gel medium for wave effects. Not as shiny as I would have liked but fast and good. I didn't try for depth just a layer on top of a quick paint job. I've got plans for more rivers and waterfalls and other stuff where the gel should work good. I went with Gloss Heavy Gel Medium because I wanted it to hold shape. It does. It's a little softer than some caulking I've used around the house.

 

Hope this helps.

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12 minutes ago, Zink said:

I've done some little things with all of these. For final effect I love the look of the Smooth On resin but it's the most work and I have 2 liter cans of it to use up before it goes bad. I'm seeing lakes and swamps in my near future. I've done 4+ feet of rivers using modge podge with some of the heavy gel medium for wave effects. Not as shiny as I would have liked but fast and good. I didn't try for depth just a layer on top of a quick paint job. I've got plans for more rivers and waterfalls and other stuff where the gel should work good. I went with Gloss Heavy Gel Medium because I wanted it to hold shape. It does. It's a little softer than some caulking I've used around the house.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Very helpful, thank you! I'm probably going to go the route of either the epoxy or modge podge/gel medium unless someone else throws out an idea that I like better. I'm not looking for super shiny since it'll be an icy river. But I do want the ability to sculpt it a bit since I'm going to be putting in little rocks so I want it to look like the water is flowing around them.

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Here's the video where I learned about using gel medium. Some day I hope to make something that nice but for now I'm doing faster, plainer terrain for the tabletop.

 

 

This is where I learned a lot about different materials for water.

 

 

This year I've watched a ton of videos from these two plus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKxgdrpAXlw

Something to check out when you have time.

 

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The "cloudier" the effect you're modeling, the less depth you need. For a very silty Alaskan river, for instance, you probably wouldn't need much more than surface gloss. For crystal clear Hawaiian sea water, you would probably want to go with clear casting resin and model all the bits under the "water". Note that you can layer unlike materials, so if you want you can use casting resin for the mass of the water and gloss heavy body gel medium for the waves on top.

 

For that matter, you can model just the surface of the water with acrylic sheet (with the possible addition of waves as above), then put the "underwater" details in air under the sheet, with clear acrylic sheet sides to the diorama.

 

But if you're not looking to do lots of detailed underwater stuff, paint a depth effect on the bottom, then layer in thin gloss medium (or whatever) and make sure all you can see is the tone and hue, not any details on the bottom. Some of Stefan Pokorny's Dwarven Forge videos show him doing underground pools that sell the effect very well with hardly any depth at all.

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