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Layout In A Box – Demo Micro Layout Project (part 29 ) – Water Effects

Scale Model Scenery Demo Micro Layout Project – Water Effects

Part Twenty Nine

Following on from part twenty eight of this series, in which we looked at using various other SMS kits to detail the station area. We now turn our attention to a couple of water features on the layout.  Water features add much scenic intrest to a layout/diorama, be it a , puddle or two, pond, stream, river, lake, sea or a canal. In the photo above features a winter canal scene on my own personal layout. We’ll look at how that was created in a future club article

On our demo layout here we’ll be creating two small water features to add some scenic interest. The first of the two scenes we are creating is a wet muddy area in the rough ground section of the layout, with the second water scene being a culvert at the rear of the layout. The product we’re using is by Deluxe Materials & is called Aqua Magic. This comes in two sized bottles, 125ml & 250ml. The Aqua Magic modelling water is a clear  pre-mixed, safe, low odour product which is ready to use straight from the bottle. This water product can be tinted to give darker looking water or any other coloured water.

The Aqua Magic water material can be found here:

For the water tints use the Deluxe Materials BD-23 Scenic Colours which can be found here:

(If showing out of stock, please give us a call on our telesales line to place an order: 01530 456 952)


We’ll start off with the culvert scene. This small scenic section is being located towards the rear of the track next to the retaining wall & industrial units embankments. The kit we’re using here is the LX086-OO Culverts (Pack of 6). This kit we’ll be taking a look at in more detail on it’s assembly in a future article. The kit we’ve left off the brick texture wrap layer & have given the greyboard parts of the kit a light coating in concrete looking coloured acryilic paint. After painting we then added some light weathereing using various dark shades of weathering powders. The Culvert kit can be found here:

In the photo right we’ve used two of thecCulverts, these have been glued & positioned to face each other to creat a small open culvert drain. Due to it being a small area, on the culvert wall which sits next to the trackbed, we’ve omitted the right hand (when viewed from behind) culvert wing wall.  The other culvert that sits at the rear of the scene, has had it’s right hand wing wall omitted & sits flush up against the wall. The two orange arrows show the two culvert walls.

On the rear side of the culvert walls, a black piece of card was glued to cover the rear of the drain pipe. The card also then stopped any back fill material from entering the pipe section. The area’s behind the culvert walls was then back filled, the track side culvert wall had ballast piled up against it & glued in place. The area behind the embankment culvert had a piece of Woodland Scenics Shaper Sheet glued into place & then covered with some plaster. This was then painted in earth colours & earth/turf scatters/bushes applied to blend it in. 

The culvert/drain bed (the section between the two culvert walls) as seen in the photo right is exposed unpainted baseboard. This we gave a couple of coats of Woodland Scenics Earth Undercoat paint.

A third layer of Woodlands Scenic Earth Colour Under Coat paint was then applied to the cuvert drain bed. Whilst this paint was still wet, a layer of fine sand coloured scatter was sprinkled onto the paint. The paint then acted like the glue & holding the fine sand scatter in place. Once the paint had been give time to dry, the excess fine sand was vacuumed up. Use a an old pair of tights over the vacuum nozzle to capture the fine sand scatter so that it can be reused. 

Now we’re ready for adding the water. Here on the right can be seen the product we’re using Deluxe Materials Aqua Magic, it’s ready mixed to use straight from the bottle. Aqua Magic is poured straight from the bottle & can poured up to a depth of 2 to 3 mm at a time. If making deeper water scenes such as rivers, an additional layer can be poured around 24 to 34 hours after the first layer.

Tip: Once poured on to the scene, place some form of cover over the water without touching the water to prevent any dust from settle on the Aqua Magic.

Shake the bottle, unscrew the tip cap & then pour an even layer  around 3mm deep of Aqua Magic into culvert.

Straight after pouring, work the Aqua Magic into all the nooks & crannies of the culvert. Drag a tool such as a screw driver, flat blade plastic spatula, along the edges so that the Aqua Magic will sit naturally level along the edges.

After a few minutes, the Aqua Magic will start to set, you can then using a screw driver or a flat blade plastic spatula create ripples & underlations in the surface of the Aqua Magic.    

We then took some of Woodland Scenics long grass/reed material & cut to a suitable length for model reeds/tall grasses. We created a couple of clumps & planted them straight into the Aqua Magic as it was setting. The scene was then covered over with a plastic bag to prevent any dust from getting into the Aqua Magic. We gave it around 30 hours before removing the plastic bag cover, by which time the Aqua Magic had fully set & cured.

Please note, whilst curing, Aqaua Magic will go cloudy white in colour but then will go fully clear once fully set. During curing time don’t be tempted to test if set by prodding it, give it a good 30 hours before touching.

Moving over to the front of the layout & the rough ground area now. Here we want some areas as wet muddy sections bit like black/peat type looking mud. Having created some slight depressions in the ground layer earlier when we laid down the ground base layer, this is where we want to wet muddy sections & puddles to appear. In the photo right, we are pouring some aqua magic into one of the slight depressions.  

Once the amount we required had been poured on to the rough ground, we then started to work the Aqua Magic into the scene. Here we are spreading the Aqua Magic to the required size puddle using a screw driver. Make sure the Aqua Magic Edges are smoothed into the ground cover so it’ll look as natural as possible.  

The Aqua Magic then was left to set, it naturally soaked into the ground material which helps give the impression of wet mud. Additional layers of Aqua Magic was poured & worked in where we wanted to create deeper puddles. We also sprinkled some dark earth & steam era black ballast, as well as some coarse turf into some sections of the Aqua magic whilst it set. Again the area was cover over to allow protection from any dust as the Aqua Magic set. The photo on the right shows the scene after the Aqua Magic had set. 

That concludes our look at using Aqua Magic on our demo layout. If you’ve not tried using modelling water products on your layout/diorama before, have a go, it’s great fun & gives great scenic effects on your layout. We’ll leave you with this short video by Deluxe Materials that shows Aqua Magic being used & some of the other effects that can be created using it. Here’s the video…

Happy modelling.

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  1. sean227

    Hi Ian,
    great to see the development of the layout in a box. Smashing to watch and see the progress. Some great modelling and very inspiring
    Any chance of a video showing a bit of a running session

    • Iain

      Hi Sean, In one of the parts there is a short video clip of it running, but i’ll get a videos sorted out on it once i’ve got Glasgow show out the way. Cheers Iain

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