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How to make a miniature waterfall for your diorama - Advanced techniques


In this part of the tutorial we learn some advanced techniques, not som much for making the actual waterfall but more for creating the water effects and the details on it and around it - particularly at the bottom where the waterfall meets the water.If you have come directly to this webpage from a search engine the first part of this tutorial (start) is located here: Make a miniature waterfall for your diorama And I have a video tutorial showing this whole process here This is also part of a tutorial on how to make this whole diorama: The Secret Grotto Diorama


These advanced techniques are all about getting the right materials to make very realistic water and water effects. There are three products that I use in this part of the tutorial and I will show them to you. You don't need all three. You will probably only use one.

These products are called glazing mediums or sometimes gloss gels. They are typically used by acrylic artists to add body to their paint. You can paint this stuff on and it will hold a nice 3 dimensional shape. So you can apply it as ripples and waves and crests and all kinds of waterfall like shapes and when it hardens you are all set. Just make sure that you get a type that dries transparent. or clear.

Glazing Medium

Here are three that I use. they are all made by liquitex. From left to right are Gloss super heavy gel, Glazing medium and gloss gel medium. The mediums will give you a certain amount of bulk and if you want to really build up the shape of the waves and water effects you can go with something like the heavy gel; it is thicker.

The heavy stuff is really terrific and you can get some good looking shapes, waves, crests and more out of it. But it will take several days to completely dry. The outer shell of your shapes will dry quick enough and you will be able to handle it in a day but for it to totally solidify and clarify to crystal clear will take a few days.

You can also use a product called "Water effects" This is made by the diorama company called woodland scenics and it dries clear and works very well:

Water Effects

Water Effects, 8 fl oz

  • A heavy-bodies, moldable product that will hold it's shape
  • Use to create pond ripples, waterfalls or rapidly moving water
  • Dries clear in about 24 hours
  • 8 fluid ounces

You can use paintbrushes, small trowels, popsicle sticks or just about any small tool or object to apply the glazing medium of gel and mold it into the shape and form you like. In the picture below I created some nice waves. In this picture they are almost dry so are still a little opaque.


Making Waves

You can use lots of the gel to create series of waves. You dab a brush into the gel then pull it up. This lifts the gel up into a pointy wave shape. Once it has dried clear you can paint white caps on the top.


Concentric waves

One of the best techniques you can use is to lay out the gel around the base of the waterfall in concentric rings. The further away from the waterfall the smaller the waves. This is like a rippling effect. It will look really nice and once it dries you can accent it with small amounts of white to create frothing and bubbling.



Liquitex Glazing Medium 118ml (4 oz)


Liquitex Gloss Super Heavy Gel Medium 473ml (16 oz)


Realistic Water

Realistic Water, 16 fl oz

This is the water product that I use to make the surface water of the pond and the river. It is pretty nice stuff and very easy to use. You just pour it in and let it dry. No mixing required. But, you can only pour it to about 1/4 inch thick. Then let it dry and pour another layer. You can speed up the drying process with a fan.


Water Effects

Water Effects, 8 fl oz

  • A heavy-bodies, moldable product that will hold it's shape
  • Use to create pond ripples, waterfalls or rapidly moving water
  • Dries clear in about 24 hours
  • 8 fluid ounces


Water kit

Scene-A-Rama Water Diorama Kit

Use this kit to create water areas for your diorama. It includes everything you need to make waterfalls, ponds, rivers, rapids, oceans, waves, or anywhere water is your main focus.

Ripplin water kit

Scene-A-Rama Ripplin' Water Kit

Use this kit to add realistic-looking water areas like waterfalls, rapids, splashes, waves, rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, beaches and pools... any still or moving water!