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Water is one of the most difficult scenic items to model in a realistic way. The most un-natural looking water on a model is real water! When modelling water two main factors have to be considered, is the water moving or still; and how deep is the water intended to be. Many commercial products are available from scenic manufacturers particularly Woodland Scenics who manufacture a variety of products to represent various water features including 'Realistic Water' for still or slow-moving water, such as ponds, rivers, and lakes; and 'Water Effects' ideal to model fast-moving waters, such as waterfalls, rapids or churning water. DeLuxe Materials also market a range of products to help model makers represent water and sea water.
Clear gloss varnish is one of the most useful materials for representing water in model railways. The coastal images above use Ronseal clear polyurethane varnish as the base with DeLuxe materials 'Making Waves' used as the base for the wave effects. The overall effect is a combination of the painting of the sea floor, the careful application of the varnish and making waves plus the final painting of the water finish.
The image above shows water in the form of a village pond. The technique used to achieve the depth and reflection are the same for all water types, although movement can be introduced in a river or the sea. The pond appears to have depth by illusion as it is only about 1mm deep. The depth is formed by painting the pond base with a selection of colours that will create depth - dark green, brown and black. The reflective surface is a by product of the material used to represent water - clear gloss varnish e.g. Ronseal. Several layers of varnish (3-4) are applied to give depth and reflection. Movement can be created by 'drawing' the top coat of varnish before it dries i.e. to represent the wake of a boat or perhaps a duck! Waterfalls can be made using a glue gun to form thin strands of resin glue from the top of the fall to the bottom. Remember to varnish the surrounding rocks to make them look wet from the splash! The finishing touch is to blend the water to the scenery using the same technique used in forming rock faces above. The photograph of the pond shows how the blend works. The pond and the surrounding grass are formed on the same piece of plywood. The extra coarse foliage covering the join between the pond and base grass makes the pond appear slightly lower. Always form the water before the scenery and allow to dry for at least 24 hours before adding the scenery. This prevents the scatter powders falling into the water.
The unfinished gorge scene above again uses varnish to represent water but also shows how Talus can be used to represent rock debris and talus/scree. This is particularly useful to blend the transition between the water effect and the adjacent scenery.
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