Friday, November 4, 2011

Product review - Vallejo Still Water

It's Friday, Friday, gonna get down on...

Ahem.

Before we start with the review, I'd like to inform my esteemed readers that I'm changing the update schedule for this blog from two updates a week to three. We'll see how it goes, it's just an experiment in motivation and working to deadlines. So, from now on, expect updates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

I've decided to review the Vallejo Still Water for two reasons: I haven't seen much buzz about it in the blogosphere (and I just had to risk it when I bought it) and I'm using it right now on my arachnarok base. So here it is.

This is our subject. It comes in a 200 ml plastic bottle with an applicator. It ships sealed tight. It's clear, colorless and odorless. From the technical point of view, it's a water-based polyurethane dispersion.

How do you use it?
Quite simple really - you just pour it straight from the bottle onto whatever you want your water to be in. Right? It says so on the bottle, must be true.

It's not.

The hole you get after you cut off the seal is much too big for anything smaller than monster bases. If you want more control over the flow (and you do), apply it with a large sewing needle or a toothpick. The liquid is viscous enough to allow it. I got around the spillages by gluing a syringe needle onto the bottle and it worked perfectly. So far so good.

How exactly does it work?
Firstly, what is very tempting about this product is its simplicity. It's a one-part dispersion, whereas other model water products are mostly two-part resins. Moreover, it says on the bottle that this product "extends and levels by itself". What could be better, right?

Wrong.

While it does level, it does not extend; it's not insulation foam. Quite the contrary, it actually contracts like holy hell, which is the major disadvantage of this product. After it dries, what you get is like a U-shaped basin with recessed center. This, however, is actually an advantage in my book. Look at this picture:
The 'rim' of the pool has already dried and it's crystal clear. Its level is higher than the wet, milky center due to the Still Water's extreme surface tension. Now, when I said "advantage", I meant that when you pour it all over, you instantly get the 'rims' of your water area defined and you're very unlikely to spill it where you don't want it.

And what do you do about the basin shape? Simple - pour another layer! By using multiple thin layers you will eventually get the desired depth in your water.

Secondly, remember to use it after you have varnished your project! Otherwise your water will be matte...  And here is another major caveat - if you want a deep water ('deep' meaning more than just some spill on the floor) you simply have to use multiple layers. Now imagine yourself finishing a project, you have only the water left to do. You'll need, say, five layers of VSW and you'll have to wait at least 12-15 hours between each... frustrating, isn't it? And it becomes 24 hours for larger areas, like the one above (it's about seven by five centimeters, 5mm in depth).

How is it useful?
For making puddles, small pools and such there is no better product within this price range. It's not dirt cheap, but in comparison with other water products it has one of the best price-to-quantity relation.

Also, if you're feeling adventurous, VSW can be used as the ultimate gloss varnish (if a very thick one). You can also try it when making things like drool, slime and such - it can be tinted with pigments or paint.

It will not work when you want flowing or choppy water. "Still" is the keyword here. However, it does not dry to a perfectly still, glass-like surface, it retains some very minute 'waves', making the water look more realistic.

Also, when poured onto a perfectly flat and level, non-porous surface like glass pane or a floor tile, it can be peeled off and cut when dry. I've never found any reason to use it like so, but it sure does have potential. Model window panes, maybe?

So, to sum up:

PROS:
  • Non-toxic, odorless, water-soluble and perfectly removable from clothes and such when still wet;
  • Decent price;
  • Ease of use;
  • Can be tinted with your usual miniature paint;
  • Can be drilled;
  • You get a lot of it in the bottle (but you also need a lot);
  • It doesn't 'go bad', I've had my bottle for at least three years now and it still works perfectly.
CONS:
  • Extreme shrinkage, you'll need multiple coats to get your water looking right;
  • Drying time;
  • It takes a while to get to know exactly how it behaves;
  • You can't model splashes and such with it, nor any sort of flow;
  • Sort of 'amateur' product - there are better ones out there, more expensive and more difficult to use, but ultimately yielding better results.
 On a final note, keep it out of direct sunlight. I lent mine to a friend who didn't and it turned milky in the bottle. It's not ruined like I'd feared it was, but it takes longer to become transparent on the model. Just a word of warning.

All in all, I don't discourage anyone from getting a go with the Vallejo Still Water. It's not perfect and if you are serious about your water projects, get a two-part clear resin or something by Woodland Scenics. If, however, you are like the most of us and use water areas sparingly on your bases, this is the product for you. VSW falls into the category of "might always come in handy".

Thanks for reading and see you Monday. Have a great weekend everybody!

1 comment:

Atomic Mum said...

I use this a far bit a love woking with it. I put layers of green and/or blue between the layers of water for a more murky look.