Diorama Tutorials

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step GuideIf you are creating a diorama with a water element, then you already know of the struggles. For one, you can’t just use liquids with paper, as it could destroy the whole experiment.

There are some ways that dioramas can use “water” elements without any issue, creating a wonderful presentation for any wildlife or water ecosystem diorama.

In this tutorial we give you 2 methods.

The first one is the “professional” because you should use many types of materials and tools which cost very much.

The second method is for school project (How To Make Fake Water With Elmer’s Glue click here) – cheap and easy but not so realistic.

What Tools Are We Using To Make Realistic Fake Water For Diorama?

ImageProduct

Craft Foam Block - 6-Pack Rectangle Polystyrene Foam Brick

  • The base of your diorama
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Hot Wire Foam Factory Pro 3-in-1 Sculpting Tool

  • Expert's Choice!
  • Great Quality!
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Styrogoo Glue 8.5oz

  • Great glue for styrofoam
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Magic Sculpt 5 Lb. White Epoxy Clay

  • Need to make surface for your future diorama
Attention! Use mask and gloves!
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Flex Paste 16 oz. Woodland Scenics

  • The riverbed should be sealed by this flex paste after clay
  • It gets applied quite liberally over anywhere that deep pore water resin will be added
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Isopropyl Alcohol > 99.5%

Spray this product before using scenic glue
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Jo Sonja Acrylics Creative Set

  • Acrylic paint set for your diorama
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Mod Podge Plaid CS11305

Need for making scenic glue:
  • 1 part mod podge
  • 3 parts water
  • Drop of detergent (dish soap)
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Noch 60135 Gras-Master 2.0

  • Best applicator for fake grass
  • Easy to use
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Noch 7100 Wild Grass Meadow 50g 0,H0,TT,N Scale

  • Use with Noch applicator
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Noch 61130 Grass Glue 250mL G,0,H0,TT,N,Z Scale

  • Add glue where you want to make grass on your diorama and use applicator
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ANYCUBIC Photon S 3D Printer

  • Do you want add figures of men/auto/boat etc? Use this 3D printer!
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Wixey WR300 Type 2 Digital Angle Gauge with Backlight

  • Use for make right level of river BEFORE adding resin water
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Deep Pour Water™ - Murky

  • Great product for making realistic water!
  • Read instructions to get best results!
  • How much water do I need for my project? Go to Water Estimator
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Gocheer Professional Airbrush Kit

  • You need airbrush for making waves and ripple effect
  • Works without compressor! USB Recharge Freely
  • Cheap!
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The following tutorials give you some ideas on ways that water has been used successfully in dioramas in the past. For any questions or further tips, leave a comment below or email the author!

The pics and info we used in the first part of the article are from Luke Towan’s excellent series of videos on YouTube. You can support Luke on Patreon.

Use “Realistic Water” to Build Your Diorama – Step-by-step Guide

There are some incredible products out there that look and act like real water. One of them is “Woodland Scenics Realistic Glue” This is a bottle of realistic water that isn’t actually your typical H2O. These bottles contain 16 fl oz of water used in model-building. It’s the perfect solution for any diorama that needs a water element, such as a pond, lake, river, or so forth.

However, you will need to prep the diorama and pour carefully in order to keep the rest of your diorama in tact.

Step 1. Prep Your Diorama for Water

In order to start preparation, you should have already built out all the other parts of your world with styrofoam or wood soluble materials. You don’t want any cracks in the diorama floor or around the perimeter of the model.

The best way to create a good floor and perimeter is with stock cards, cardboard, or plastic sheeting. You also want to make sure that any cracks or holes are filled in with glue first.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

If you are using styrofoam or just want to make sure that it is going to be spill-proof and leak-proof, you can follow these steps before adding water to your diorama:

  • Add a thin coat of plaster to all areas that the water will come in contact with
  • Use a primer to protect your diorama
  • Paint all the other areas of your diorama first
  • Add realistic water once paint has dried

Prepping your diorama is the most important step. Any cracks or porous surfaces that aren’t plastered will likely cause spillage. Also I recommend to use Hot Knife to make different surfaces of your future model.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

Step 2. Add a Border to Wall in Water

Realistic water will continue to spread into every porous area, so you’ll need to add a border if you plan on having water that extends to the edges of your diorama. If you have a small pool in the center, you also want to make sure that it’s completely walled in and protected from leaking. Thick stock cards are a great way to great this border around the edges of your diorama.

Glue guns are also helpful to fill in any cracks and add these borders so that you have a sturdy surface that won’t leak.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step GuideHow to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

Step 3. Pour in Realistic Water on Level Surface

You should place your primed and prepped diorama on a level surface before getting the realistic water ready. You can pour straight from the bottle or you can use a funnel if you want to be more precise and careful. Unlike water, realistic water is a bit thicker and stickier, so you want to be careful about not getting the water onto anything else in your diorama.

Once you have finished pouring, allow the water to rest and dry. You can use a fan on low setting if you want to speed up the process. However, if you want to add in small rocks, fish, plants, and other miniature figures to the water, you should do so before it dries.

The water will look crystal clear so it’s best if you paint the bottom with any type of rocky bottom or coral look that you want your model to have.

Once the first layer has dried, you can pour on another lay as needed. This is helpful if you want to show multiple types of ecosystems in your water diorama, from bottom floor fish all the way up to the surface.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

Step 4. Add Realistic Waves and Other Surface Effects

You can use other products to modify the look of your water, making it look more like ocean waves or lake ripples. The mediums typically used for this include gloss gels and glazes. You can find them alongside acrylic paints in any arts and crafts store.

We recommend to use Woodland Scenics-Water Effects.

Gels and glazes are painted on using paint brushes just like you did with other paints in your diorama. However, these paints create a 3-dimensional shape that holds well to any structure. Liquitex is the top brand to use for these mediums as it holds well and dries consistently.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

The gloss gels and glazes are transparent and will also adapt to the color of your realistic water. Once dried, you can add paint to create waterfalls and lagoons. It all depends on how you want to create these water effects.

Woodland Scenics also makes another product called “Woodland Scenics-Water Effects” that can also help you build realistic lake ripples, waterfalls, rapids, and other waves. It takes a bit longer to dry, but when it does, it will dry clear.

To create these effects, you simply use a paint brush to tease and swirl the gel around, lifting up to get waves or letting it drip down off your diorama to create a waterfall. You can even use the gel to create concentric circles, creating small ripples or even a dramatic finish to your waterfall area.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

How to Make Fake Water with Glue – Using Blue Elmers Glue for Water in Dioramas

If realistic water is too much or you want something simpler for a smaller diorama, then you can also use blue glue. Elmers has the perfect brand called Liquid Gel School Glue in light blue. In addition, you’ll probably want to get clear school glue as well.

The most important thing to remember when using glue is that you need a border so that the gel doesn’t leak all over the place. You can use wood, stock cards, or cardboard to create borders around your diorama.

What Tools Do You Need To Make Fake Water For School Project?

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Elmer's School Glue Gel

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Elmer's E304 Glue

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Apple Barrel Gloss Acrylic Paint 20424E Gloss Real Blue

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In addition, you want to paint your diorama with the base colors before you begin adding the glue. For example, wherever you want water to appear, you should color in acrylic blue paint. If you want coral bottoms or rocks, then you should use the appropriate acrylics to create those scenes. Once you start pouring in the glue, you won’t have a chance to make your scenes underwater any more colorful.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

Step 1. Block Out Your Water Areas

Let’s say you are creating a diorama with two levels so that you have a waterfall going into a stream. At the top of the diorama, you’ll have to create a little pool or pond where the water starts, then draw out how the water will flow down into the bottom of the diorama, blocking out all areas where water will go with your pencil.

Once you have designed the water areas, you should paint in any effects and colors before you add the glue.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

Step 2. Add the Glue

You can keep the top on the glue and squeeze it into the blocked out areas carefully, or you can pour it in. Either way, you’ll want to keep a brush or popsicle stick nearby to guide the glue into areas, creating any wave shapes by pulling up on the glue until it forms the right ripples and shapes.

Before the glue dries, you should add any other figures, plants, rocks, stones, or other diorama elements. The glue typically starts to dry as soon as it meets the air, so you don’t want to wait too long to start adding in your different water creatures.

Once finished, let the glue dry, being careful to watch for any leaks.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

Step 3. Add More Layers

Once the glue has dried, you can add on more paint or add a second layer of glue. This is beneficial if you are going from deep sea ecosystems to the surface, and you want to showcase different creatures or sediments in the diorama.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

Videos on Water in Dioramas

Here are some specific videos you can use to create water in your diorama that showcase expert ways to build water effects using these tools, as well as some other techniques that may be more advanced.

Creating Waterfall Effects

Perhaps you want to create a multi-layered model diorama with a waterfall that drops down from a grotto. Creating these effects is actually easy with the right tools and liquids.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Wax paper
  • Caulking gun
  • Crystal clear caulk

You’ll use the caulking gun to create streams down from the second level to the bottom. You should add realistic water or the Elmers glue before you create the waterfall.

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

How to Make Fake Water For a Diorama? Step-By-Step Guide

2 Comments

  • Nice guide but you should probably mention that most of the pics and info you used in the first part of the article are from Luke Towan’s excellent series of videos on YouTube.

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