How to Make a Realistic Water Diorama

    by Shawn Chambers

    About the Author

    Shawn Chambers has been writing and editing for over 15 years. His writing has appeared in the "Baseball Blue Book," where he was also an editorial assistant. He holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting from the University of Kentucky.


    Dioramas with water features can be strikingly lifelike when crafted with skill and patience. While not impossible, water is one of the more difficult elements to replicate realistically in a diorama. Ponds, lakes, creeks and rivers can be added to any miniature landscape with some practice and basic materials, including clear casting resin and enamel paint. Whether for displaying models or depicting battle scenes, any diorama can be improved with a realistic water feature.

    Things You'll Need

    • Glue (optional)
    • Clear casting resin
    • Plastic cup
    • Enamel paint
    • Stir stick

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    Prepare the necessary space on the diorama to allow for the water feature of your choice. Place any objects, such as logs, rocks or debris that you want to have on the bottom of the water feature and glue them securely in place so they do not float up into the casting resin. These small additions will make your water look more realistic.

    Mix the casting resin inside a plastic cup according to the package instructions. Use any type of small, clean stick for stirring the resin, but stir slowly to avoid air bubbles.

    Add a few drops of enamel paint to duplicate the coloring of the body of water you wish to model and stir the paint slowly into the resin. A pond might be tinted green, and a muddy creek will be far more realistic with a little brown enamel paint. It takes only a few drops of paint to achieve the desired effect.

    Pour the colored resin solution slowly onto the area of the diorama where you want to locate the water feature. Pouring slowly will prevent air bubbles that can spoil the realism. For a creek or river, allow the resin to flow naturally. Lakes and ponds may require several layers to be built up slowly. Do not pour resin more than 1/2-inch-thick at a time.

    Drag the same stick used for mixing in a ripple pattern across the hardening resin. This will add extra detail and make the water appear more realistic. You can also brush enamel paint around rocks to represent white-water rapids, or brush dark paint onto the model to indicate deep areas of water. Allow this first layer of resin to harden for the time indicated by the manufacturer's instructions.

    Pour another layer of resin, if necessary, to raise the simulated water to the desired depth. Use the stir stick to score ripple lines in the surface and add additional paint if you'd like to further enhance other areas.

    Apply vegetation, rocks or other items around the fully hardened shoreline of the water feature. This will add realism and make the water appear that it is truly a part of the landscape of the diorama.

    • Work in a dust-free area if possible. Dust can settle into the wet resin and ruin the appearance of your water feature.
    • Casting resin is widely available at many craft and hobby stores and is sold under a variety of brand names.
    • Clear cast resin can be toxic and should only be used in a well-ventilated area. Wear a respirator mask when working with resin.


    • From Graves to Caves: Modeling Your Diorama; Fred Deruvo