🌊 Water Effects

Updated at 2023-01-15 16:04

Water effects are used to represent bodies of water and other liquids. Oceans, rivers, swamps, ponds, puddles, waterfalls, rain, droplets and so on.

Water effects should be self-leveling. This meaning that they will always try to fill the lowest point in the area they are in. Some can be more gel-like while others are runny.

The gel water effects are used when you want to add waves e.g. simply on an opaque blueish surface or a resin pour.

Water effects are usually transparent, but they can even be opaque. You can usually color them with acrylic inks and paints.

Some common water effect materials:

  • epoxy resins
  • ultraviolet resins
  • single component water effects
  • semi-transparent adhesives

Epoxy resin is the most common material; cheap and reliable.

Some example prices for comparison:

Epoxy Resin in bulk 3000g 30e                           = 100g per 1e
Epoxy Resin in smaller quantity 500g 20e                = 100g per 4e
Epoxy Resin (GSW) 300g 20e                              = 100g per 7e
Single Component Effect (Vallejo Still Water) 200g 14e  = 100g per 7e
Single Component Effect (AK Interactive Puddle) 60g 6   = 100g per 10e
UV Resin (GSW) 100g 20e                                 = 100g per 20e

Epoxy resin is your best bet for large water effects. Hardens to a very hard and clear solid. Doesn't shrink or expand. Hardens in 24 hours. Note that low quality epoxy resin can be a bit cloudy so try to find the ones that specify "clear" if you need extra transparent result. Works fine for natural or tinted water though.

Also note that the epoxy component mixing ratios must be exact, or you might get resin that never hardens or hardens cloudy.

Some epoxy resin also starts to age after the containers are opened, so don't be surprised if the resin you bought 6 months ago is now cloudy.

Ultraviolet resin is more expensive version of epoxy resin, but it is also more durable and cures in minutes compared to days. It's great for small effects like droplets, and for casting small objects.

Vallejo Still Water is very runny and easy to use as it is a single component water effect. It dries to bit cloudy so not fully clear but works for natural water. It shrinks a bit when it dries so apply in thin layers. The result is soft, like a stiff gel. It has high surface tension so can be applied in thin layers on a flat surface. Fully hardens in 48 hours but if doing layers you can apply more after overnight.

AK Interactive Puddle is quite runny but the bottle causes bubbles if not careful. It also shrinks a lot, so you need to apply it in very thin layers. Result is a little soft. Hardens in 48 hours.

Usually you shouldn't use glue for water effects, but some adhesives can be used to create minor water effects, most notably epoxy glue. Things like PVA shrink too much, cure very slowly and dry cloudy.

The most common issue with glue is that most of them shrink by design as tries to bring the surfaces together. Shrinking is not what you want with water effects.

Hot glue is not for water effects.

  • The heat when applied can cause deforming of other materials.
  • Hardens so fast you don't have much time to level it or remove air bubbles, but partially reheating the glue can help.
  • Hot glue is very messy.
  • Doesn't harden to transparent, usually slightly foggy, but thin 1 mm layers can appear quite transparent.
  • Does not shrink or expand.
  • Hardens to stiff but slightly soft.
  • Hard to add color if your glue stick is not colored to begin with.
  • Hot glue is useful in creating small, thin things on silicone sheets / moulds and then transferring those to the actual position when hard. Works okay for creating spider webbing, small puddles and simple mould shapes, for example.