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"Making ponds and water effects" Topic

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Warspite119 Aug 2019 1:31 a.m. PST

I have just posted this on YouTube under a demo by Luke of Luke's APS. He favours using MDF bases, sculpting the lip of the ponds with DAS air drying clay and then pouring expensive two-part epoxy resins into the 'pond' as water.

I work in smaller scales (typically 15mm) and this is my approach…


I use clear glue (UHU, etc) to stick thick string or twine around the lip of the pond. Tack glue several spots to suit yourself and leave to dry. When this has set solid, re-glue the entire length with thick water-based PVA (white glue) and leave to dry.
Next a coat of thin PVA on the rest of the MDF is immediately followed by the filler, plaster, sand, etc to create the bank outside and the pond bottom. If you work a thin PVA/plaster mixture along the string itself it totally disappears and any hairs in the glue stick down. Acrylic wool might also work. If one length is not enough, place a second or third length later to build up the bank in height.

I use no DAS and thus have no problems with DAS either cracking or coming off. The glued down string NEVER shifts. It is rock solid forever.
String comes in various thicknesses and you can adjust for scale. I use relatively thin stuff as I wargame in 15mm or 1/100th scale. I would avoid the coarse and hairy sisal twine.

For water I mostly use old varnish poured over pre-painted bottoms and flock. The varnish is poured in as a layer of a couple of millimetres deep and is left to dry and contract over two or three days. I have been lucky as mine has rippled on drying and looks quite natural enough. You could colour the varnish with a little suitable paint (water-based for acrylic varnish and oils or Humbrol for polyurethane varnish) but I have never bothered as I find a pre-painted pond bottom gives more than enough colour. Make the colours darker in the centre as the water will be deeper. Browns and mud in the shallows is OK, blue and green in the deeper water. Remember that water will reflect the sky so blues or bluey/green can work a treat.

You can place a little contrasting deep green flock into the pond bottom before you pour the varnish, to act as underwater weeds or algae. You could also put in thin garden twigs to simulate drift wood or fallen trees. Glue everything down before you pour as it WILL float off otherwise! :)

After pouring and setting the varnish, further small amounts of flock can go ON the final surface as weeds that have come through the surface. Do these in lighter colours to contrast any darker ones under the surface.

Also… if your final thin pour is not to your liking, give it time (a week?) and put another very thin pour on top of it. This should smooth the surface. To prevent the final pour reacting with the one beneath use another varnish type. So if you started with polyurethane, switch to acrylic or visa versa.

You can control the gloss on the water by choosing which varnish you use for the pour gloss, satin or matt. Personally I use polyurethane gloss varnish.
Remember also that if you do not like the reflectivity of the final version then there is nothing to stop you applying another thin coat of varnish or medium using a brush or a spray. You could gloss varnish your satin or matt 'water'.


CeruLucifus20 Aug 2019 7:39 p.m. PST

The glued down string or twine is a clever way to create bulk. Will definitely try that sooner or later. Thanks for posting.

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