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Making calm water
by Mike McCabe
Whenever I am manning our Fine Waterline stand at any model show one
question is asked that outweighs any other, and not always from ship
modellers, how do you make the water? As most of my models are
1:700 I follow the method Jim Baumann describes elsewhere on these
pages, although ships were not always out on the open sea and often
seemed to spend as much time in port, certainly a high proportion of
photos show them there. This model of HMS Exeter shows the ship
tied to a buoy in Caribbean waters using a very simple water effect
base, if the ship is to be shown stationary, in port or in coastal or
very calm seas, this method can be used.
All that is required is artist's watercolour paper, this is heavy duty
paper sold in A1 sized sheets from any artist's shop, it is a thick
paper and since it is intended to carry watercolour paints, it does not
distort when painted. The heavier grades of paper have a nice
rippled effect which is ideal for 1:700 scale.
All that is required is to paint the paper an appropriate colour, fill
any gap between hull and water with white glue or acrylic gel and there
you are. If desired more shade and tone can be given to the base
colour but when very calm water often appears a flat colour, it is the
reflections from the sky, clouds, and any objects on land or on the
water that give it the change in colour.
We need then to give the water a glossy finish to give it some of the
reflectivity that water would have. I used to use Johnson's Kleer
(Future) for this as it was easy to brush or spray on, but this is now
out of production although a replacement product can be found it appears
to be inferior. Instead any acrylic varnish should do, I like the
one made by Citadel for the Warhammer range of sci-fi figures, they are
good paints and readily available at a decent price. A few coats
of this should bring up a sufficiently glossy surface to look like
water, so there it is, easy and effective water.