Making waves
The idea of the wave came from the drama of the pirates pose and a need to make the entire project really stand out. The ship’s deck needed to be tipped a bit to better suit the pirates poses and what a better way to give the viewer the idea that the ship is rocking than to put it on a crashing wave. Plus the elevation, color, and water element add a real flair to the project. I decided to make the wave with my favorite water material – casting resin.

the mold
I’ve done a bunch of ‘flat’ water already, but this would be different, it would have movement and elevation and no sides. So the challenge was how to make a pillar of water with an overhanging lip. The plan (always a plan) was to make a container that I could pour a number of thin layers in at different angles. The angles would allow me to tip the mold to achieve the lip.

I made a master out of clay to get a rough shape. This didn’t have to be exact because the wave was a free flow element. I wrapped the master in aluminum kitchen foil making sure to pinch the seam very well. I wrapped the foil as tight as possible and didn’t worry about destroying the master as I removed it. I wanted to retain the foil shape. With the clay out of the foil I rubbed out any rough spots with my finger.

The water product and technique I use quite often is outline and explained in a feature I wrote called Pouring Resin: Easy and Inexpensive. I added a blue dye to the process for this project.

Mixing was done based on the instructions; I used a kitchen scale to weigh the resin and then calculated the correct number of catalyst drops. One thing you must take care to do is to mix the color in the resin before you add the catalyst. This gives you plenty of time to get the color completely mixed in before the resin starts to cure. The first layers received two good sized drops of blue color.

I poured my base layer in and let it cure overnight. This gave me a good strong base to work up from. Subsequent pours were quite thin ranging from 2mm thick to 4mm thick. As I moved out I added less and less color. You can see from the images I used a hobby vice to situate the mold in some very awkward positions. I poured the thinner layers quicker than the 1st layer. I waited only a few hours between these, just enough time to let each get firm and act as a support for the next layer.

Once it was the final pouring shape I let it sit for a full 24 hours to cure. Then I removed the foil mold. This resin is nice because I didn’t have to use any Vaseline or non-stick solution, the foil just peels away.

I shaved a few places down to make a better shape. I also worked a great deal on the bottom to get a nice flat surface. I used some two part epoxy to adjust the level of the base. I used this because it dries translucent and mimics the resin fairly well. I knew I was going to paint the end result so I wasn’t 100% concerned with a miss-match in media.

I used oil paints to add color and depth to the wave. I simply used a wash technique with very thin white paint. As I got to the foamy areas I used thicker coats of paints. I used a touch of blue here and there for visual variety. My style is to add lots of thin layers vs. fewer thick layers so I go slow and build up layers. There are roughly seven applications of various thicknesses and colors of white.

My original plan was to have the ship deck actually resting on the crest of the wave. This would give cause to the tipping deck. After I finished the wave I felt that the curl of the wave wouldn’t support the deck over time. So I needed some alternate support device. I needed a clear rod to hold the ship. I didn’t want to distract from the wave with any solid rod sticking up behind it. I looked for either a clear styrene rod or a glass rod and could not find one so I had to scratch build one. The solution was in my hand as I was writing modeling notes – a Pen. I found a brand of pen that is made of clear acrylic plastic. The only problem was that it wasn’t round. I removed the business parts of the pen leaving just the tube. I cut it to length which in hind sight was a mistake. I would leave some excess (scrap) on one end to use a ‘handle’. I inserted it into a quarter inch drill and got out some sand paper and sanded the rod into a round shape. I did this by holding the paper in one hand, laying the plastic rod in the paper and spilling it with the drill. This made it very fast and easy. Once it was close to round I increased the grit on my sand paper. As I worked it I continued to increase the grit. I finished the drill work with some steel wool to give it a smooth surface. If you try this the part will look like an absolute wreck at this point; don’t despair. Keep going. The last step was to paint it with three coats of future to give it a nice smooth clear finish.

Connecting the rod to the ship was in need of a ‘statement’, it couldn’t be just a deck and rod. There needed to be reason and representation of tilt or rotation. I found a wooden ball at the local craft store and decided to use it. I cut it in half and drilled a few test holes to get the angle correct. Once I was happy with the angle I glued the ball to the base of the ship and then inserted the rod. The rod went into a hole in the top of the treasure chest base right behind the wave.
  • 13_1_casting_resin
  • 13_2_wavemol
  • 13_3_mold_rub_down
  • 13_4_mix_colorwell
  • 13_5_tipthree
  • 13_6_tip_close
  • 13_7_tip
  • 13_8_wave1
  • 13_9_wave2
  • 13_10_waveoils
  • 13_11_wavepaint
  • 13_12_clear_rod_sanding
  • 13_13_Pen

About the Author

About Scott Lodder (slodder)

I modeled when I was a teenager. College, family and work stopped me for a while. Then I picked it back up after about 12 years off. My main focus is dioramas. I like the complete artistic method of story telling. Dioramas involve so many aspects of modeling and I enjoy getting involved in the ...


Excellent article Scott.
OCT 07, 2006 - 08:09 PM
GREAT article Scott!! And great subject/model too! well, 14 pages is a lot for my english skills and i will have to start all over again but you prove that dioramas is the king of modelism genres because here you can really DARE, you are only limited by your imagination!
OCT 07, 2006 - 08:21 PM
Arrrrr!!! Nice work matey! It's got a great sense of action/motion. Excellent job documenting the build too! Cheers, Jim PS: About those links... try putting them back in. I need to see them in action to figure out why they are failing.
OCT 07, 2006 - 11:55 PM
Thanks for the complements It was a blast to build and I hope some people can learn a tip or trick. PS - the links are on page 14
OCT 08, 2006 - 12:46 AM
Hi scott, As somebody who has an interest in the subject of the time of the Pirates and often enjoy playing a variety of games, I have really enjoyed both the review and the pictures that accompany the text. I have often looked at the Pirates series by Verlinden and may well look again with an intention to buy as I feel a little inspired by the work that you have done. Many thanks, and this is my first visit to Model Geek, so I may now visit again. John
OCT 08, 2006 - 02:13 AM
Great article Scott, well written ,easy to follow with and great photography. I always wanted to do something with water and waves and I had read many others on how to achieve such, but your has a bit more since to it. You put in a ton of time and effort into this article feature, you deserve a round of applause. Joe
OCT 08, 2006 - 09:28 AM
Thanks Joe - the encouragement makes the work worth it Hopefully you jump in and try some water - just ask any questions, I'd be happy to help. John - pirates are Great, a bit of color, a bit of 'fantasy', total creativity, and you keep a bit of military base too. Hope to see you around MG more often - it's a fun place
OCT 08, 2006 - 04:12 PM
Great article and well executed dio. It's well worth reading and learning a few new tricks and also getting a reminder of a lot of features already showed on Modelgeek. Well done Scott Cheers Claude
OCT 08, 2006 - 06:03 PM