To test some different water products, I decided to do a side by side showdown. I got out some spare 50 mm bases and flipped them upside down. I filled the bottoms of each with different products to see how they react. This also told me if there will be any sort of heat problem that will warp or distort this kind of base. My 4 contestants:
A - Vallejo Still Water:
I am familiar with what it does, so this is kind of my control candidate. It’s a one part fluid that sets up.
Vallejo Still Water
- Initial Reaction - easy. Pour straight from the bottle right where you want it.
- 12 hours - already seeing some settling. Liquid level not as high as it was on initial pour. Surface feels spongy to touch.
- 24 hours - drastic settling. Reminds me of the Plastic Wrap filter in Photoshop. I’ll refill and wait another 24 hours.
- 36 hours - second coat is settled as well. Still slightly tacky. If you look closely you can see the difference in the layers. (Of course the camera won’t pick this up.)
- 48 hours - the second layer settled in as well. 48 hours and 2 layers later, still not what I want at all.
B - Vallejo Water Effects
This isn’t intended for this kind of use, but I thought I should see what it does as I have 2 other projects I want to use it for. It has the consistency of mayonnaise, so it won’t flow anywhere. It’s intended to create rippling water effects for rivers, waves and waterfalls by holding its shape as it dries.
Vallejo Water Effects
- Initial Reaction - I slathered it all inside the bottom of the base like the other products and then used a couple of toothpicks to “ruffle” up the surface like waves.
- 12 hours - The textured waves held their shape, no settling overall, although the product is not set underneath. I’m curious as to whether it will fully set when applied in a deep layer like this in a non-porous container. Surface feels spongy to touch.
- 24 hours - The bottle says it dries clear, but I guess that’s not the case in a thick application like this. Still very milky in appearance, but firm to the touch.
- 36 hours - Still milky, but definitely set. Could easily be painted I suppose.
- 48 hours - Never did clear up.
- NOTE: This did eventually clear up after about a week or so.
C - Silk Shoppe
I approached this one with trepidation as I had been told of a bad experience with it. I kept the window open while mixing and pouring for any fumes. Package says it takes 24~48 hours to fully cure.
Le Silk Shoppe Acrylic Water
- Initial Reaction - flowed better than I expected. Has the consistency of fresh honey. Some fumes, but not too bad. No real exothermic (heat) reaction so far.
- 12 hours - no settling so far. Some air bubbles were trapped down inside the posts on the underside of the base, but the level has stayed right where I poured it. The bases do not appear to be warped. Surface appears firm to touch.
- 24 hours - still no settling, very minor air bubbles still trapped deep inside the posts. I tested the surface with my thumb and to my surprise it sunk right in! Ack! So to test a possible technique I textured up the surface of the top base with a toothpick. None of it stayed however, as within 2 hours the surface had flattened back out.
- 36 hours - surface is firm now. No visual difference between the textured base and the non textured. Still slightly tacky to the touch.
- 48 hours - completely set, no tackiness now. Easily drilled / sanded as well.
D - Envirotex Lite
Everyone’s favorite, the old standby. This is my first time actually using it though, just like the Silk Shoppe. I followed the directions on the package and mixed for a full two minutes.
- Initial Reaction - the consistency was the thickest of the three pourable products, much like old honey. Also, I found the fumes to be harsher than the Silk Shoppe surprisingly enough. Because of the extended mixing time I had whipped a lot of tiny air bubbles into the product.
- 12 hours - Most of the tiny air bubbles have outgassed, although a few still remain. There are air bubbles trapped down in the posts just like the Silk Shoppe. No settling detected. Surface feels firm to touch.
- 24 hours - Still tacky. Obviously this product isn’t designed to be applied this thick in one pass. A few small surface imperfections where air bubbles outgassed but didn’t fill back in. Could easily be fixed with another thin layer.
- 36 hours - definitely set. Shows fingerprints really well though.
- 48 hours - more than done. Slight imperfections remained, but good performance.
Vallejo Still Water
Vallejo Water Effects
Silk Shoppe - (top base) Silk Shoppe - (bottom base)
Envirotex Lite - (top base) Envirotex Lite - (bottom base)
Vallejo Still Water: this was my biggest disappointment as posted previously. I really wanted this stuff to work. That being said, it does still have some possible uses.
- Thin layers of water or other liquid. Just covering the surface or a shallow depression this should work well.
- Filling in the underside of a base to add stability / rigidity for pinning. I did as Ark suggested and drilled a hole through the base and glued a pin into it. It takes superglue well and helped add needed surface area for the pin to be more stable.
- Drool / wet mouth look. This could be used, say on the inside of a Dire Troll’s maw, to give a wet drooling look after sealing.
Vallejo Water Effects: obviously this is not the right application for this product, and I stated that going in. What I’ll be using it for:
- Ripples on the surface of water. In a thin layer this does dry transparent. It will take paint as well, so it makes sculpting moving / disturbed water a snap.
- Waterfalls / fountains. Since this has such a thick consistency it should stay put. It could be used to model water spraying out of a fountain for example, by using fishing line as a base structure.
- Icicles. Everyone in Khador knows it’s cold. This could easliy be used to create hanging icicles from buildings, warjacks, Frostfang…
Silk Shoppe: despite the warnings received, it looks like the product has been modified to be a very suitable water product. The 48 hour cure time is a bit harsh, but overall I feel it gave the best “deep water” performance and I’ll be using it most likely on my swamp bases. (After reaction testing of course.) Its low cost and wide availability (pretty much any craft store that sells fake floral products) make it a winner in my book. Other ideas to consider:
- Resin casting. Since this is actually a clear resin, it could be used for casting parts and such. I was able to drill and sand it, and it sets up quite hard. A light sanding should be all it needs to take paint readily. (I will test that.) Also, the long set time meant that it produced little to no heat from exothermic reaction. This means that it shouldn’t cause much damage to silicone molds, unlike other resin products.
- Terrain. This would make very durable water terrain. Lakes / ponds / rivers / etc. The lack of issue with what depth to pour it at makes it ideal for one pour fills.
- Ice crystals. One thought I had was to create large blocks of ice and / or crystals. These could be used for terrain or base decorations. There are several games out there that have races that live in alien crystalline landscapes.
Envirotex Lite: Overall I was pleased with it, but it can be hard to find and it is a bit pricey. Although it can be applied in deep layer like I’ve done here, it’s best suited to layers 1/8″ thick or less. Over that you should go to multiple layers. Even though it set faster than the Silk Shoppe, in order to get the same results I would’ve needed to go with 2 applications which would negate any time savings and add another step to the final piece. I’m hard pressed to find any other creative uses for it. I suppose you could try casting with it, but with the difficulty is getting air bubbles out in deeper layers that could prove problematic. Surface relief casting should do fine though.
Until next time.