Lets Make Something banner



Youtube graphic
I have a youtube channel with over 750 Project Videos!

Hi, Thanks for visiting my website. My name is Will and if you have questions
or would like to
contribute projects or ideas you can contact me Will

Woodland Scenics Realistic Water

Realistic water is a neat and very easy to use product. It is for making rivers, ponds, lakes and other bodies of water in your dioramas, scenes and model railroad scenes.

There is no mixing. You just pour it and let it dry.

There is only one limitation. It is recommended only for depths of about 1/8 of an inch. It isn't made for making deep bodies of water. But for smaller dioramas it is ok to go deeper than the recommendations. You just have to give it more time to dry fully between coats.


REalistic water

Realistic Water, 16 fl oz

This is the water product that I use to make the surface water of the pond and the river. It is pretty nice stuff and very easy to use. You just pour it in and let it dry. No mixing required. But, you can only pour it to about 1/4 inch thick. Then let it dry and pour another layer. You can speed up the drying process with a fan.



Paint the surface under the water. The colors you use will depend on what type of water body you are making. it is a blue ocean or pond? Green water? Murky brown river bed? etc.

Base painting

Let's take a closer look at the water though. It isn't a steady blue all the way through. You can see in the picture above that it gets greener toward where the waterfall would be. This is a nice technique that will add realism to the diorama and it is particularly important under the sections that will have water because you will see them more easily. A lot of the diorama will have a covering of textures that hides much of the color.



How to do this blending of colors very easily.

Ready for water effectsThe technique I use is to start out with a dark blue in this case in the very lower left corner of the picture. Paint a little bit on the diorama then add a bit of green and paint a little more, add a little more green and paint a little more (all the while I am working toward the waterfall) continue adding green and painting more. Wnen you finally get to the end it should look mostly greener. This gives us that nice smooth transition from blue to green.





But this stuff does take some time to use. You can only pour it in 1/8 inch thick layers then you have to let it dry and pour another layer until your desired thickness is achieved. This is ok by me. And you can use a fan to greatly accelerate the drying time.


Prepping the diorama

The Realistic water is a liquid so you have to examine your diorama and plug up any cracks or holes with some kind of glue. A plain white glue or a glue gun works well for this.

And if the water is going to go right to the edge of the diorama, like it does in this one, then you have to build some kind of border that will hold the water securely in place while it dries.

Adding the border

In this picture you can see the blue card stock border that I have glued all the way around. Do something like this to your diorama if you need to. Glue gun works well for this because it is fast. Once it has dried you should inspect it carefully and seal up any of the edges with glue or hot glue so the realistic water won't leak out.





Pour in the water

Make sure your diorama is on a level surface and pour in the water.

Use a fan to let it dry. At this point you could embed small objects in the water if you want to. Rocks, fish, small items, even miniature figures.

Once it has dried you can pour another layer. And another as needed. Once you get it to the right height we can start adding the various other water effects.




Shaping ripples in the water

As the realistic water is drying you can use various tools to shape waves and ripples. This is something you have to watch for. If you do it too soon the water will just slowly go back to being flat. But don't do it too late or you won't be able to create the ripples.





Use Glazing Mediums or Water Effects to make the waves and Ripples

These products are called glazing mediums or sometimes gloss gels. They are typically used by acrylic artists to add body to their paint. You can paint this stuff on and it will hold a nice 3 dimensional shape. So you can apply it as ripples and waves and crests and all kinds of waterfall like shapes and when it hardens you are all set. Just make sure that you get a type that dries transparent. or clear.

Glazing MediumHere are three that I use. they are all made by liquitex. From left to right are Gloss super heavy gel, Glazing medium and gloss gel medium. The mediums will give you a certain amount of bulk and if you want to really build up the shape of the waves and water effects you can go with something like the heavy gel; it is thicker.

The heavy stuff is really terrific and you can get some good looking shapes, waves, crests and more out of it. But it will take several days to completely dry. The outer shell of your shapes will dry quick enough and you will be able to handle it in a day but for it to totally solidify and clarify to crystal clear will take a few days.


You can also use a product called "Water effects" This is made by woodland scenics and it dries clear and works very well:

Water Effects Water Effects, 8 fl oz

  • A heavy-bodies, moldable product that will hold it's shape
  • Use to create pond ripples, waterfalls or rapidly moving water
  • Dries clear in about 24 hours
  • 8 fluid ounces



You can use paintbrushes, small trowels, popsicle sticks or just about any small tool or object to apply the glazing medium of gel and mold it into the shape and form you like. In the picture below I created some nice waves. In this picture they are almost dry so are still a little opaque.


Making WavesYou can use lots of the gel to create series of waves. You dab a brush into the gel then pull it up. This lifts the gel up into a pointy wave shape. Once it has dried clear you can paint white caps on the top.







Concentric wavesOne of the best techniques you can use is to lay out the gel around the base of the waterfall in concentric rings. The further away from the waterfall the smaller the waves. This is like a rippling effect. It will look really nice and once it dries you can accent it with small amounts of white to create frothing and bubbling.







Waterfall in a dioramaWant to learn how to do the Waterfall? I have that full tutorial right here: A Waterfall in a diorama

Actually pretty easy to make a great looking waterfall if you know the right tools and techniques. I have it right here: Make a waterfall in a diorama



Sign up for my newsletter!

Do you like making projects and exploring a variety of hobbies?

Sign up for my free newsletter. I give you regular updates on hobbies and projects you can make. it is totally free and I don't share your email with anybody.