Dark, still water is probably one of the easiest because it can be effectively simulated by applying a coat of clear gloss varnish over a suitably painted surface.
Where clear, still water is required i.e. where the bottom of the garden pond or small pool should be visible there are two methods. In either case the underwater landscape is first sculpted and painted. The first method is to use a sheet of clear acetate to represent the surface of the water. This is sandwiched between the layers that make up the scenery.
The second method is to use clear embedding resin. This is particularly useful where it is required to have details (rocks, fish or plant life) suspended in the water. The down side with resin is that great care has to be taken to avoid getting air bubbles trapped on the underwater landscape and to avoid adverse effects at the edges caused by surface tension in the resin.
Flowing and disturbed water is much more difficult to simulate. Dark water can of course be sculpted, painted and varnished and this approach is commonly used with model ships. For clearer water (the movement of the water's surface will of course affect the degree of transparency) a number of techniques may be considered.
An old idea is to use crumpled cellophane and it is also possible to use embedding resin and varnish such that a 'textured' surface is produced. This is not easy as the nature of these materials is to settle (in fact it is usually desirable that they do).
Another possibility is the use of general purpose adhesives whose tendency to be stringy can be employed to produce waterfalls by pulling stings of glue from the top to the bottom of the waterfall. Thin strips of cellophane or other clear plastic can also be usefully employed in the construction of waterfalls as can nylon fishing line.
As always, if you have any questions about our tips please feel free to email them to me and I will be pleased to assist you. Also feel free to email me yours and I will be please to add them to this section of the website.