If you’re into models and miniatures, there’s a good chance you’ve come across water effects at some point. Model train enthusiasts, diorama builders, and wargaming hobbyists all use water effects to make their 3D landscapes look more realistic. If you paint miniatures for D&D and other tabletop games, you may also use water effects on the bases of your miniatures.
Since water effects can be challenging to get right, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you make model water effects at home.
No Bubbles Allowed
One of the most important things to keep in mind when using resin is to avoid creating bubbles when mixing. While you can remove bubbles with a lighter, you must be very careful during this process, and it won’t reach the deepest layers of the resin. It’s always better not to have bubbles in the first place.
One of the easiest ways to get the proper texture on the surface of your water effects is to apply crumpled-up bits of toilet paper combined with white craft glue. The glue will dry clear, and you’ll be left with something that resembles the white crest of a wave or water ripple.
Using Hot Glue
Hot glue is not great for making entire bodies of water since it dries too quickly, but you can use it for other things. Hot glue makes an excellent seal when you’re using resin. You can also create the pieces for a waterfall by piping hot glue onto sheets of acetate, then peeling it off once the glue has hardened.
One trick for making model water effects at home is that you can change the color of most resins with regular model paints. Dip a toothpick in the paint color you want and gently mix it into the resin. Be careful not to stir up any bubbles when you do this!
You Don’t Need Resin
If all you’re trying to make is a flat water surface for a pond, lake, or river, you don’t even need resin. Use something else, like foam or balsa wood, to create the water’s flat surface. Then you can paint the illusion of water on top using model paints. Sprinkle rock textures and miniatures plants around the edges, and you’ll have a realistic water effect without any resin.
Whether you’re planning a model train layout or building set pieces for a D&D boss battle, water effects can dramatically level up your miniature game. Thankfully, many of the best tricks in the hobby are easy to do at home with a bit of patience.