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Adding the water effect is almost the last thing that’s done to the scene. Since you’re planning a winter scene, adding snow will probably be last so that it covers over the edges of the frozen water. You need to smooth the land form contours as your next step. I did this on my layout using drywall mud. Then add any rock formations you need around the waterfall. Then color your rocks and the bottom of the pond/streams. The water effects will dry crystal clear, so the bottom paint is what will give the water the appearance of depth. You’ll probably want some shades of light blue to simulate ice. You can see a progression of how I built my ponds and waterfall here: https://www.modeltrainforum.com/showthread.php?t=53721&page=10

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks. I've been busy with other foam but getting the order of things is something I've been wondering about.
 

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I would rasp, better to carve, the upper edge of the perimeter to be a more natural slope. I'd resort, otherwise, and to give up a bit of the area inside that confine, to using spackle, Durham's Water Putty, or something like that, to craft a slope and to save me the trouble of carving out all that foam. This treatment would add immensely, at the same time, to 'water-proofing' or sealing the edges of the pond once you pour.

I'd paint the middle third a dark grey-blue or black, maybe a dark teal colour, and then lighten it right up to the edge.

Mix and pour about 1 cup of two-part epoxy (Envirotex, or see your local hardware store for a 'finish quality' epoxy), cover it with clean cardboard, and let it set for 24 hours (IF...you mixed it according to instructions). If it bubbles, which it almost certainly will, use a soda straw in your mouth to blow across the surface. They'll all disappear like magic. Wait ten minutes first...they often disappear on their own.

Next day, if you want it deeper, or don't like the painting effect you rendered, paint over the first pour and repour. If you just want more depth, same thing, add a layer. Note that you CAN tint these epoxies using cheap acrylic craft paints. A drop or two, not two or three blended squirts!!! Also, if you want it a little turbid, a small pinch of plaster of Paris powder.

When that second, or third pour is done and cured, slather a layer of Mod Podge Gloss Medium over the entire surface and turn your applicator foamy on its side and stipple the entire surface. Allow at least two full days, often more for the highest/thickest peaks, to dry. I do prefer gel gloss medium because it stays put, but you'll have to go to a craft store for that..?

 

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When you say "ice skating pond", do you mean it's going to be frozen?

Assuming so, here is what I would do.
1) Using a coarse sanding block (or rasp), finish shaping the terrain (slope the edges of the pond, and round off the hill behind it).
2) Sand the bottom flat.
3) Airbrush a 1/2" boarder of your terrain base color around the edges. Then paint the center dark gray or very dark blue. Feather this into the terrain color. If you don't have an airbrush, paint the bottom of the lake first and then paint the terrain color, using thinned paint (a wash) to create overlap between the colors. You don't want a crisp boundary.
4) Add any rocks, sticks, dead / dormant vegetation around the edges of the pont.
5) Use masking tape to create a dam at the outflow end.
6) Pour in your water product of choice. I prefer acrylic gloss medium. Before you pour, tiny it with a very light blue gray color (I would use Vallejo Acrylics #907 Pale Gray Blue, and white in a 50 / 50 mix), almost to the point of being opaque. Since you want it to look like ice, keep it as flat as possible. 1/8" depth should be sufficient. You can always add more on top.

Hope that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I just wanted to circle back to this to say it's all very helpful. I've been working on a difficult foam mountain and tunnel at the other end but will soon commence to shaping foam. Thanks for the tips for making it look like ice. More to come. TIA
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Okay, I did some foam work to deepen the lake to 1/2" and slope the banks. Also some rounding off of the mountain. Would you use spackle or lightweight Hydrocal on the lake bottom and seams in the foam? I've worked with spackle on drywall but this is my first and last model so I'm trying to get it as right as possible to hand down to the grand kids. TIA.
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Whatever you're comfortable working with (within reason, obviously) will suffice to do the bottom of your pond.

To my eye, things are still too rough and vertical to make good terrain. Especially that back "wall" on the pond -- looks more like a quarry than anything nature made. Although that might be your intent. And, after all, it is your layout, so do as you wish. Maybe this is the effect you are shooting for (Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz NY, taken from atop Skytop Ridge):
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Remember that your "water" will be only about 1/8" deep, so your lake will be in a hole about 3-4 scale feet deep the way you have carved the terrain.

When you are happy with the appearance, proceed as several of us described above.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yeah, I was thinking something like those Mohonk cliffs but you are right, it's too mathematical right now. I'm not sure I have the skills to carve a nice rock face. I was hoping to have a frozen waterfall feeding the pond as well as another on the outflow. I have a sheet of Dolomite flexible Rock Foil for the verticle canyon walls. Will have to play with it. This is the stuff: DOLOMITE STRATA CLIFF FOIL 33" x 14½"-Scenic Express
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I set out to fight the "flat phenomenon" of a train table but not being very artistic, I'm trying a cheat to get more random surfaces. At work, we took delivery of some theater lighting gear that had a lot of spray foam packing that had pretty random shapes as it conformed to the odd shape of the lights. So I've been canibalizing the various surfaces to create a mountain covering a Christmas tree stand at the other end of the table. So I used some on the top of my waterfall hill. It also needed a V-shape for the top of the fall. Plan is to unify the pieces and strengthen it with plaster cloth. In the meantime, the spackle on the pond is like every drywall project I've done. Needs patience and lots of coats plus sponge/sanding ...
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Honestly, I think that's going to work really well. Making a cliff face line that isn't actually that hard. Cover you foam with a layer or drywall mud, Sculptamold, or even plaster, about 1/4" thick. Smooth the surface in one direction, allowing some of the lines to show. The lines, after painting, will look like strata, just make sure that they aren't too long or too uniform. Using a fairly long straight edge (I use a palette knife), add some more horizontal lines and some vertical ones. Don't be afraid to leave gouges and gaps.

Paint the result with a series of washes (thin paint; at least 5:1 ratio of thinner to paint, and mine are closer to 10:1, usually) in the gray and earth tones you want. When that's dry, add a thin wash of India ink or other black paint (check before applying; some black paints and inks are actually very dark blues or browns, and diluting them means they aren't black any more). Allow the black wash to settle in the cracks and crevasses you carved. Yes, it will take some practice, but you will be surprised at how easy it is.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
That actually sounds do-able. Thanks. I found this video about carving mountains in foam. It seems easy enough. I might try my hand at it someplace:
 

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So that video is the same idea, but makes rock shapes more typical of Europe and Asia, where the mountains were made by rapid (in geological terms) upthrusting of the rock, which combined with erosion, makes those pillar-like formations. There is some of this in western North America as well. Most North American formations, and all of those east of the Rockies, were made by a more gentle folding, which was then scraped by glaciation and modified by erosion. This creates a more blocky appearance with many more horizontal or slightly sloped layers (see the cliff in the photo above, how the strata slopes very slightly from left to right, and the layers are of different thicknesses).

As far as the techniques go, as with anything else, it takes a little practice (art is rarely a one-and-done product), but I think you will be happy with how fast you can make good looking rock faces once you get the hang of it.
 
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