Wet Your Ships!
Wet Your Ship!
Several times I've been asked how I make the water for my ship models, and now I explain in a simple way, what I have been doing and making. There are more ways to do it, using Acrilic Gel, Maskol, Watercolour paper, but with this one I can control it and, most of all, I feel comfortable with it I hope that this can be helpfull to you, but have in mind that this technique should be used for small scale ships (1/350 and smaller).
grab your modelOnce you have decided what you are going to build next, and that you have decided to give it a go with a seascape, before you build anything (this is the way I do it) grab your base and a pen or pencil and decide how it is going to be placed there! From left to right, showing the bow or stern, it's now that you must make the decisions on how you're going to display it. You have to be able to see the model fully assembled and visualize the "best angle" or most dramatic shot you want to show! Place the base or hull of the model and play around with it... step back and enjoy, go back and place it differently until you find the right position. Another place were you can go and get inspired, is the box art of your model or any picture of the subject you could have on a book - it's always good to make your homework!
let's start...Now that you decided how it is going to lay on the base, using a pen or a pencil, mark the outline of the hull and using references, draw the waves that the ship will do while sailling. Don't forget the propelers wake, and if you are making water for a sail ship: don't make this wake! This is made by the revolutions of the propeler(s). This will be your guide in the built and it's also helpfull to copy the hull/wake drawn on paper - for reference. Also bear in mind that different ships have different wakes! Tamiya's 1/700 Waterline Series Guide Book (although mostly writen in Japanese) has very good graphics showing it. It's cheap and you'll get a lot of information.
Making the Sea
Using white glue (for wood) spread a thin coat over the base. This will make the seascape bonded with the wooden base (or any other material). While it is still wet, start spreading a 2 or 3mm thin coat of Das Pronto or any other modeling paste. This paste is paper based, white, water soluble and air dryes in a relatively small amount of time (depending on how thick it's your work). It is available throughout Europe at LHS, Craft stores and Art departments. Cheap and very usefull! After the base is coated with the paste, you can smooth it with your wet finger and give some depressions at your will... Get a small water container (I used a bottle cap) and a cotton swab and start make small depressions with it. Start on one point of the base and progress to the other end, making those small impressions/depressions close to eachother - this will make your small sea waves. You also should make them always in the same direction, or this small detail will ruin your work! Believe me... At this point you should impress the hull on the wavy base, in the place and position you have decided. This is why it's better to make this before the modle is assembled (for obvious reasons). Now it's time to make the wake.
Making the Wake
Make a couple of small rolls of Das Pronto and aply them as waves on the predefined areas you have marked (use the paper drawn reference mentioned above). You now have to blend them into the seabed. This should be made with a toothpick or similar tool. Remember that, if this area could be cut, it would have to be triangular in shape, with the top vertix pointing forward (see the photos) in the direction the ship is "moving". Once you have made the blending, you should pic your wet cotton swab and flatten a little bit the area imediatly after the wakes, and "loosing power" towards the stern. And to improve the looks of your waves, delicatly make small pinches on the edges of the waves, so that they will look irregular - not a perfect wave, but it looks good! For the propellers wake, make small beads with paste and make a relatively small pile after the ship. This pile should be fading. Than, using an old toothbrush or short hard haired paintbrush, dampened with water, verticaly make some strokes, so that the pile goes down a little and blend with the rest and it will be filled with little holes - this will simulate the turbulence in that area of the water.
Now you can dedicate yourself to the construction of the model. The paste will take about a day getting properly cured, and you will get the chance to correct some holes that may occur (it did to me - I'll explain later!!!), resulting of a small area with more water/white glue and less modeling paste!
Copyright ©2020 by Rui Matos. _OPINIONS Model Shipwrights, KitMaker Network, or Silver Star Enterrpises. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Model Shipwrights. All rights reserved. Originally published on: 2007-05-24 00:00:00