How can I do a river???

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Xaniel, Aug 28, 2002.

  1. Xaniel

    Xaniel Member

    How can I do a river guys? I really don't know how is it done...

    Where to start, how to do, what to do... really don't know...

    These two pics show where the river is... Hope you can see them...

    Please, help me, on this...


    Thank you for your time
  2. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member


    I assume the river is the lowest area on your layout. Fake (ie model) water doesn't really need any depth - the illusion of depth is created with colour. The darker the colour, the deeper we perceive the "water" to be. So, the depth you have allowed for the river is not really needed.

    The first thing you want to do is detail the banks. I've had great success with spackle, Poly Instafill is a good one, comes pre-mixed, dries fast etc. I'm not too careful when I put it on, cuz I like some of the cool things that happen where coverage is uneven.

    Next, paint the river bed. Some modellers use almost black paint in the center which is the deepest part, and graduate it to a lighter earth colour at the edges. How dark you make it depends on how "deep" the water is. For a shallow stream the colour would be lighter than say a deep harbor. Then apply a few rocks (real pebbles are free and very realistic!) - some flat ones that will be visible through the water and some that actually show above the water level. Here's where some good reference photos come in handy.

    An excellent source for reference photos are stock photo agencies used in the graphics biz (that's my background). Try - type in the word "river" hit the search button and voila! The only thing you need to know is that these images are copyright and you're not allowed to reproduce them - ie on a webpage - without paying. But if all you want to do is see what something looks like, it's really useful.

    There are some online clinics on making rivers and ponds too. I really liked this article from MRR magazine:

    Hope this helps.


    Can you believe this is a MODEL???!!!!! (Image from MRR online)

    Attached Files:

  3. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Um, one thing I forgot to say is the part about the actual water. There are commercial hobby products from Woodland Scenics for example, but you don't really need them. If the surface is shiny, then it will appear to be wet. Varathane hi gloss, an acrylic floor sealer, works just as well, although you can't build up depth with it.

    Best thing to do is take a scrap of plywood and experiment a little first.
  4. Xaniel

    Xaniel Member

    the depth is to creat a river valley, spitfire. sorry i didn't explained that.sorry.

    Thanks for your explanation. I'll try to do something about the river...

    What kind of colours shoud I use? I don't want to make a very deep river...
  5. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    The best way to model a river/lake etc is to use High Gloss Yacht Varnish a thin coat at a time. Here's an example. taken from my HO logging layout.



  6. billk

    billk Active Member

    Xaniel -

    The problem that many of us have with modeling natural elements (rivers, trees, mountains, etc.) is that we "know" what they look like - after all, they've been around us all our lives. So we just make a model without really studying the prototype. And then it somehow "just doesn't look right".

    I guess what I'm saying is look at a real river that's similar to what you want to model, or pictures of one. Study the colors, the surface patterns, the shape of its banks, the vegetation surrounding it, etc. And take notes!

    - Bill
  7. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    That does look REALLY kewl, Shamus. Somehow I don't think yacht varnish is gonna be too easy to find around here, though. :D :D :D
  8. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Gloss Medium also works well.
  9. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Wow Shamus that is AWESOME!!!!!!!!
  10. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Everything Shamus does is awesome! :D
  11. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    AWESOME is Shamus' middle name!!!

    Using the varnish how did you get the water to appear to be flowing in the creek or sluice where the three logs are???
  12. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Vic , I used a little white paint and varnish together to create that effect, just brushing it along the logs.:D

  13. jimnrose

    jimnrose Member

    Thanks to Shamus sharing his skill and experience we always learn from his work and strive to reach his level of expertise.
    Thanks to the internet, we can follow his leadership. Technol-
    ogy also provides, glue, hot gun, clamps, chop saw and acrylic paints that make modeling easier than in yesteryear.
    Thanks Shamus, Jim

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