Television is rather a frightening business. But I get all the relaxation I want from my collection of model soldiers.
Peter Cushing

Monday 29 October 2018


As you may recall, I have built a U Boat before. It was not a relaxing experience. However, I'm nothing if not a sucker for punishment. It was that time again when I needed to experiment with some new techniques. This time, my specific aim was to learn how to model water. I figured that I could model rough seas that most anything else would be quite simple. The donor kit for this experiment was a 1/350 Revell Type VIIc bought from Amazon for the princely sum of £6.99.

The kit itself went together very easily. It is a beautifully engineered kit and significantly better than the Airfix one, even allowing for the larger scale.

Then we got on to the tricky bit. I sourced a wooden base - leftover from an old attempt to make a Bloodbowl dugout - and stuck some blue foam down. This is what would become my base. I carved a hole for the rear of the sub to slot into and then started carving the waves. 

This process led me to becoming the latest victim of the U-Boat menace. 

Next a bit of masking and then painting the two colours of the sub. I did this with thin washes of colour over a white basecoat to ensure that the details of the sculpt did most of the work for me. 

Then a thin black wash over the whole thing to bring out the recesses. I didn't bother pin-washing here, just applied it as a filter. 

Once this was dry it was time for weathering. U-Boats were very well used ships; Doenitz worked his crews and material hard, and I wanted to reflect this. Time for another new technique. 

I got some pigment and thinned with airbrush thinner. This allowed me to alter the thickness and opacity of the resultng wash on an almost brush by brush basis. This is great technique that I will be using a lot more in the future. You can see the results here: 

Just in case anyone hadn't worked out how small a 1/350 sub is, here's a pencil for scale. 

At this point I also added the rigging on the front of the sub. After all, if I can rig a 1/1200 ship, this is a doddle. I did not rig the rear lines, simply because I didn't want to faff with them disappearing into the water. I wasn't sure it would cause any problems but seeing as this was my first time out I didn't want to take the risk.

Happy with the sub, it was now time for the main event. First I covered the waves with watercolour paper; this gives a base texture and smooths out any too sharp edges in the wave structures. I mixed a green/blue deep sea colour and airbrushed a light grey over the higher areas (in future, the base colour will be darker and the highlights closer to white - this was the only real mistake I made but I had no way of knowing that at the time)

I added some sponged highlights to the airbrush for randomness. 

Now I started adding the water texture, starting with Vallejo Still Water. Two layers of this were added with 24 hours drying time between. 

Now I glued in the sub and started filling the gaps with sea foam - this was tissue paper, soaked with the Still Water effect. 

I cut some sides from Balsa wood and glued it on to neaten up the edges. I cocked up the measurements slightly so they didn't quite meet but such is life. 

It looked pretty good at this point - indeed, the Good Lady She Who Must Be Obeyed thought it was finished  - but now came the most nerve wracking bit. 

I slathered the whole thing with an Atlantic Water effect. 

As this dried, it turned transluscent and allowed the detail underneath to show through. 

So I did another layer. 

This dried with some real depth to it, so I started adding the whitecaps. This was mixture of offwhite, glaze medium and the atlantic water effect, sponged and brushed over the tips. 

I then started painting some more onto the waves to help give a sense of direction and movement using the same mixture as before. 

The last element to add was sea foam. I did this in the same way as I added the wake earlier in the process but this time with cotton wool. It was stuck to the hull and base with water effect and then teased into shape with a brush loaded with still water effect. 

The whole base then received one last coat of  still water effect to blend everything together.

Overall, I'm very happy with the outcome. And along the way I've picked up a couple of very useful techniques that will come in handy in a lot of future projects. 

If anyone is wondering where the title for the post and the basic look came from, it's Das Boot again. 

If anyone wants a handy tutorial on this effect, you can't get much better than this one from Vallejo:

Before I launch back into the round of miniature painting I think I might have another experiment, this time with pigments for weathering and corrosion. For that, I think another little diorama is in order. 


  1. That's absolutely out of this world! Amazing results, you broke my awesometer, congrats!

  2. That looks brilliant! I was fooled by the first pics before I got to the text and saw how you achieved it.

    As they said in the Holy Grail, "it's only a model" (but very well done!)

    1. Thanks - that's been the most gratifying response: quite a few people didn't realise on first glance it was a model

  3. Great results in the end, and I love how you shared the WIP shots all the way from the beginning to the end.

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  5. Excellent work! Gives me some great ideas for doing the basing on my Beasts of Nurgle as they lollop and splash through the swamp basing I use.