In camera effects / Visual FX

DIY – Cloud Tank Effects

For many years, cloud tanks have been a popular tool for creating a wide range of practical and impressive visual effects on camera.

It involves the process of filming water and other liquids in a transparent tank to create the illusion of various magical effects such as galaxies, skies, tornadoes, stars, and other visually stunning phenomena.

Some products you can use to create cloud tank effects

Various products and liquids can be used to produce different visual effects. Here are some examples of the ones I have tried, along with a few other ideas that are worth experimenting with.

  • Milk
  • Shimmer and glitter
  • Seawater/water with salt
  • Acrylics
  • Food coloring
  • Dry ice
  • Acrylic paint with shimmer/glitter
  • Neon paint
  • Shimmer
  • Maybe oil?
PICTURE – A mix of glitter, water and acrylic paint.


  • Pipette
  • Syringes
  • Water tank/aquarium
  • Good lighting/light conditions
  • UV light (if using UV/NEON colors)

Remember to have adequate lighting. If your tank or aquarium has a clear bottom, you can use lighting from underneath. Consider using blacklight/UV light to create glowing effects with fluorescent materials, lasers, or colored LED lights. (NOTE: Be mindful of flickering!)

A pipette is a great tool for adding drops and small quantities easily. Spoons can also be used for this purpose.

You can use seawater or water with added salt to create layered effects and colors.

It’s a good idea to use a black background, but using a green screen or blue screen could also work.

You can film from various angles, including from above or the sides, but be mindful of reflections on the tank. It’s best to shoot in a dark room where you can control all the lighting.

If you don’t have a glass tank or aquarium, you can use a clear mug or glass instead.

VIDEO – SHANKS FX – Cloud Tank Magic

The Cloud Tank VFX effects in these pictures were created by Jon Helge Hesby, Sander Skarås Pedersen and Kim Elin Olsen.

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