Ok folks, I have a quickie for ya. Thanks to Michigan Toy Soldier Co. I’ve been granted the privilege to test and compare some “water-effect” products. The first test and comparison is between two, single-component, self leveling acrylic liquids. The second is between three acrylic gels.
First comes the liquid acrylics. Left is Still Water from AK Interactive, and the right is Aqua Magic from Deluxe Materials. What these products intend, is to allow the user to create a smooth, still-water effect, in thin coats, with a 1-part solution that is meant to alleviate the hassle of mixing two-part epoxies. Just straight from the bottle. My pre-considerations for these products were: One, will it lay flat, smooth and clear? Two, will it bubble? And three, will it shrink when drying? I tested both items using the same control – a clear, plastic cup, with a stick glued to the middle to gauge fill height, clarity, and how well it formed around objects.
Both products are recommended to be poured in thin, 3mm depths, to achieve a smooth and even finish. Both require an 24-48hour drying time, as well. AK interactive comes in at 250ml, while Deluxe comes in at half the quantity, at 125
Here they are, side-by-side after one 3mm pour. (To gauge the depth, I used a metric ruler)
You can see that the AK Interactive is bubbling. I’m not sure how that comes to be, but it’s a big red flag, considering bubbles are un-intended for the product’s designed function, and the bubbles can be difficult to pop, due to the nature of the liquid. I tried poking them with my Exacto Knife, only to have them split into smaller bubbles. Deluxe is a bit more thick, and lays a bit better than the AK, at first pour. I let these two sit for 24 hours, before I examined them.
After 24 hours, here is what I got from AK
This is no good. The bubbles did not settle as I hoped they would, and the liquid has shrunk and condensed a bit – you can tell from the striations around the bottom of the cup.
Below is Deluxe at 24 hours.
Deluxe has dried nicely, formed well around the stick, and did not seem to shrink at all. There is a tiny bubble, but its hardly noticeable.
At this point, I’m already going to recommend Deluxe. Yes, it is half the quantity, for a similar cost…but it performs. AK already isn’t holding up to it’s design. Because, if you leave the pour clear, then the shrink marks will be visible, and if you don’t, the shrinkage and bubbling will make you work harder to achieve the flat, smooth finish it advertises. AK just won’t deliver like Deluxe will, period. But, just for good measure, I did another pour and let them sit for 48 hours. AK is directly below.
More bubbling and shrinkage from AK. Also, the material seems to be “cupping” a bit. Meaning, the interior of the pour is sinking and shrinking slightly, making an indent in the middle.
Deluxe’s sat on itself well, leveled nicely, and has the intended volume. It did seem to shrink ever so slightly, but again, hardly noticeable.
The answer is clear here, Deluxe Aqua Magic is far-and-away the superior product.
Alright, now we are onto the Acrylic Gels.
So here is the thing about these products, they are all Acrylic Gels, packaged with the intention to use for “active” water effects. These heavy-body gels can be smeared, pasted, stippled, layered, etc to achieve any “active” water feature and effect. They all do this competently, are practically the exact same product, and have only the slightest differences. One being viscosity. These are the same products with just slightly different base viscosity’s. Woodland Scenics is the thickest, then comes Vallejo, and Deluxe last. That’s it. That’s all. But, just to give a performance visual, I glued some rocks to some bases, and plastered some product on each of them.
Here they are. All products will dry as you lay it, and all three shrink very little. I’ve labeled the bases with the starting letter from the companies title. “D” for Deluxe Materials, “V” for Vallejo, and “W” for Woodland Scenics.
And below is the final result. It is a tad difficult to see, but I didn’t want to lay any color down on them because I wanted to show the product at its base function. All three dried like I laid them, all three dried clear. The thicker, the longer it takes to dry, so Woodland took the longest. But again, all of these products work exactly as they are supposed to. Now, how do you make a choice? Price? Quantity? I wouldn’t, I’m always more concerned with performance, and there are some factors that helped me make a decision for recommendation.
Those factors are: Deluxe dries in the jar, and Woodland clogs in the tube.
Vallejo, had stayed like is was when I first opened it (6 months ago), AND it’s the mid viscosity range. Meaning its starting application, or base, is a bit more versatile. For example, if you want a slight, smoother start to a desired effect, then you’d have to work Woodland more than the others. Contrary, if you wanted a more robust foundation, with a larger volume, then you’d have to work Deluxe more. That’s it. Those the only factors that forced a selection. All three of these products work as intended, but only Vallejo will give you the least amount of hassle, and stay fresh on the shelf.
P.S. YOU CAN MIX PAINT/INKS INTO THE LIQUID ACRYLICS TO ACHIEVED A DESIRED, COLORED EFFECT AND PAINT DIRECTLY ON BOTH, WITH NO ISSUE. I did not include examples of this because it is completely subjective, and doesn’t hinder the base properties at all. They are acrylic mediums, adding acrylic paint will do nothing but color it.
- Don’t bother with AK Interactive’s, Still Water. Aqua Magic from Deluxe Materials does exactly what it sets out to do.
- Any of the acrylics gels will give you the water effect you desire, but Vallejo is the easiest to manage and most reliable.