DIY - Projects & Ideas • My 55g Mbuna tank project

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Postby Steve C » Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:09 pm

Basically imagine a thick paint that has a gritty sand texture to it and that is what Drylok is like. You just brush it on like paint. What I did was blew off each section with air before I painted it, then brushed the Drylok on in a normal paint method with the brush, then went back over it with the masonary brush in a "dapping" method. Still saw a few little popcorn pieces like you are talking about but the Drylok is thick enough that after a couple coats they should not pose and problem IMO.
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Postby Steve C » Sun Oct 30, 2011 6:02 pm

Got a little bit of time to work on it some more today. Just have one more piece to finish building and then shaping then I can coat the 2nd section with Drylok. But was able to get the 2nd coat of Drylok on the 1st section earlier in the week and now did some of the shading paint work on the first section.

The shading I am doing is using a darker Grey in the lowest spots on the "rocks", then going over that as well as some of the medium raised surfaces with a medium earth tone brown. Then going over the most raised portions with white to give the whole surface some more depth/3D look. The method I'm using is dry brushing to get the desired look.

The start of dry brushing the deeper areas that are to be shaded. The one deep crevasse here is just dry brushed with some darker Grey at this point...
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Here it is after the darker Grey, Earth tone brown and white shading is all done on it...
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And the complete first sections two pieces which make up the left 1/3 side of the tank all completed. The edges are left flat because I will be building in some very small side panels as well so need a flat surface to match them up too...
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Postby Steve C » Sun Oct 30, 2011 10:03 pm

Decided to get a tad more done before I called it a night. I now have the rest of the background carved out and shaped but still have to mount the smaller piece and get it all in line across the top (trimmed down). Then it'll be time to finish the first coat of Drylok over the rest of the bare foam, then a 2nd coat, then shading like on the first sections....

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Also started working on the first of the side pieces. Doing the sides in thin 1" foam board so it does not take up anymore tank space than need be. Decided to also build in some small caves into the side board. The larger cave with have a small divider in it so that it will hide the intake for the canister filter behind one side of the divider, while still providing a hiding cave for some fish. Above that is a smaller ledge supported by a rock shaped post to give it strength and provide another "home" for fish...

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Postby The King Crabb » Mon Oct 31, 2011 12:52 am

Looks great! :thumb:
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Postby Steve C » Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:28 am

Thanks. I'm not to sure about the little upper overhang ledge now though. I liked it when I made it and I know the fish will probably like it, but after walking away and coming back to look at it now it just looks a bit too man made to me now.

I will probably coat it with Drylok once I get the rest of the side panel done and see how it looks then, but that little ledge my be getting taken out. Not sure yet. Anyone else got any input on that little ledge let me know what you think...you might make my decision easier for me :wink:
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Postby Steve C » Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:47 pm

Well now I'm glad I didn't scrap the little overhang cave that I built. Because I ended up adding a ton more detail to the side panel in the form of shaped foam rocks and just coated it with Drylok and now I really like the looks of it. Once it's dry and all the shading is done I think it's gonna be a nice little home for a few fish for sure.

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Postby Agridion » Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:53 pm

Looks really good. :thumb: :popcorn:
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Postby Steve C » Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:07 am

First test run with the lights this morning. I still have A LOT of work to do such as 2nd coat of Drylok, lots of shading left to do, have to fill and sand some of the seams to smooth them out. But here is a pic with the lights set up behind the opening which will show you what I have had pictured in my mind to give it the whole "Underwater cave looking out to the open water" look I am going for.


First here are the lights I will be using. They will be a total of four of these lights (two for each opening). They are 20" long Cold Cathode lights which are used for lighting up computer cases in case modding hobby on computers. These have been converted over to normal household 110 power with inverters and a wall plug. The opening is covered with some light blue Christmas wrapping paper then the lights positioned behind it with a small space between the lights to focus the intensity more at the top of the opening so that it fades from top to bottom so it gives the effect of the water getting deeper the lower it goes in the opening...

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Here is a pic with the lights on and the first of the two opening light up, and the room lights on as well.....

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And a pic with the cave lights on and the room lights off....

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And a close up...

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Postby halffrozen » Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:44 am

O_O

WANT!
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Nice

Postby mretuck » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:28 pm

I am in the middle of making a BG .... and have now just had realization that I need a revamp. I love this!
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Postby The King Crabb » Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:41 pm

=D> I applaud you! This has just become my new favorite idea ever incorporated into a fish tank :thumb:
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Postby CITADELGRAD87 » Thu Nov 03, 2011 5:51 pm

This is wicked cool. I like when someon can see something in their mind's eye and make it happen.e

Very interesting effect, I am buying into the cave opening and darker-deeper thing.

VERY convincing, keep it up.
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Postby Steve C » Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:21 pm

Thanks everyone. This is my first real foray into making a "nice" tank so I'm pretty happy with how it's coming along so far.

Something else I am thinking about doing is rather than doing just blue tinted "moon lighting" I'm thinking about using some LED's in a bit of a fan formation in the upper right hand corner and angle them so they sweep across the tank from right upper to left lower. Basically to make it look like moon light is shining through a opening in the top of the cave. Also thinking about putting the Cold Cathode lights on a dimmer switch so I can lower the brightness of the "open water" lights to match the moon lights.

Not sure about that one right now either because I don't want to get ahead of myself, still have a lot left to to on just the background still. Really enjoying it though so far, glad I got back into the hobby after so many years away from it.
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Postby Malawi Marco » Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:46 pm

Wow! That is amazing. It really looks cool.
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Postby Steve C » Sun Nov 06, 2011 12:14 am

Well things are moving along well on this now. The complete back is done as well as the left side panel. All that is left now is the right side panel and then the whole background unit will be done and I can then start on building the wood stand, canopy, and lighting system for it.

I went back over the whole thing today with some flat drab olive green and dry brushed that on to many of the areas to give it the look of algae growing on the rock walls. Because I like the look of algae on the rocks but once the tank is up I don;t want to have it anywhere else, so I figured since I made my own background..why not make my own algae :lol: So now it has light grey for the main color, then dark grey in the creases, earth tone brown in some spots, olive drab in others. Then I went back over all the raised portions with white paint and dry brushed all those raised high spots to give it the look of being worn and lighter on the tips of the rocks.

Once I get the right panel done (which I started tonight) then I'll be finished with the background. In the meantime I cleaned the tank today and placed it all in there to snap a picture...

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I think we're gonna need a bigger boat
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