Simulating rippled water effects - comparing some products


Again, this particular text would not be made public at first, for it just summarizes my analysis of a few products that I have lying around my workbench for simulating water effects in dioramas. I wondered, however, that it may be useful to someone out there with the same concerns.

At the time I was working on a Italeri Autoblinda AB40 in 1/35 scale, I decided to put the model on a vignette showing part of a bridge and water running under it. I did most of the usual steps for simulating water, poured tinted epoxy resin, etc. But this should be the bank of a creek, not a pond. I wanted to add movement to the water. Having read/watched lots of materials on the subject, I knew it would be necessary to add something to the top of the water:

My main interest was to compare these products to simulate rippled water effects. Most modelers simulating rivers or seas resort to two basic approaches: opaque (Celluclay, resin, etc) or transparent (gel, resin, silicone, etc) water. I will not enter into the details of each one here. But unless you are interested in modeling a pond in a day with no wind at all, you probably will need to add some texture to the top of the water to replicate the water movement/agitation. Sometimes all you want is to avoid a perfectly flat water surface, other times you want to add waves and foam:

Depending on the technique you want to use, the waves can be simulated directly with your clay or resin. But the smaller ripples are better and more realistically simulated by adding special gels or putties on the water surface. It is important to know if the product of your choice will dry transparent, if it keeps its shape, how well the ripples are simulated. For that, I chose to make a very simple comparative test of the following products. There is no  reason for choosing this
particular list of products except that I had them at hand, and that they are all soluble in water:
Some of these products are specifically made for modeling, others are generic and can be found in craft/artist stores. Two of them (Cola Flex and Foam & Snow) are used to simulate the white foaming on the crest of waves and agitated waters.

My main objective was to compare how transparent they are (except for the two used for foam) and how they keep their shape. I was not interested in drying time. The 'testing protocol' was the simplest:


Be aware that it is possible to change the color of these products by adding tints, as well as change their viscosity by thinning with water or alcohol, what can change considerably the final aspect of them on your model.

Here are the tests photographed 2 hours and 48 hours after application:

A better comparison is possible with a zoomed image of the products tested:


My humble verdict is the following. Regarding the products to simulate water foaming:
As for the other products, they are pretty much equivalent. I think the main conclusions are:

Tests are always a good idea to be done by the modeler, as they show the characteristics of products you have around but never used. Of course, all of them have an application, but I would round up this comparison with the following
I hope you find this article useful somehow in your next project.

Rato Marczak 2020