Home Forums Terrain and Scenery Rivers- Tell us About them.

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    Avatar photoOotKust

    Yes- sick of the spindly little twisty bits of resin, or worse, cardboard of the old days- who has done a ‘decent’ river?

    Something novel? Still portable, useful for all games and variations, not one-off or ‘scenic’ only types.

    Rivers are as immutable as troops who have to cross them, or get past. Europe including Italy was traversed and recrossed, not to forget Switzerland/ Helvetie, Russia and everywhere in between.

    Having visited a long while ago, I get the massive Rhine, Rhone and Danube etc. but there are as many more smaller but just as difficult inconveniences that occur in many campaigns and scenarios. So what have you done that’s ubiquitous, but still challenging?

    Part Deux- what rules have you adapted to make their presence ‘felt’ in an action?
    I love engineering but haven’t found a suitable ‘code’ that makes them much fun in 18thC-19thC warfare concepts.
    Regards davew

    Avatar photoMartinR

    My most useful river sections are based on some I saw at Partisan years ago. Clear plastic sheet cut into wiggly sections, the reverse side stained greenish blue, and banks built up from flock. The ends are slightly rounded and overlap so there are no unsightly joins between sections.

    Ive used those for years for all sorts of things. I have some much wider rivers made out of 2mm MDF with built up banks, varnish ‘water’ etc but they are far less flexible and only get used for stupidly big rivers,, like the Rhine.



    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Avatar photoAndrew Beasley

    when I am playing I just cheat and use felt – my whole game [Slow mind thread here] is rather abstract though 🙂

    There was a great Kickstarter a few years ago (argh – just checked and it was 7) that used the plastic diffusers found in commercial lighting – the gloss was a little high but texture won out. Never managed to source some plastic but wondered if a Matt varnish spray would work esp when it wore down in patches and off the peaks.

    Sitting them on the table has always been a bugbear of mine, I’m not a fan at all of rivers that are proud (despite having some from Magnetic Displays / Coritani in the resin pile to paint) but have to admit that is the most flexible way unless you are fighting on a fixed battlefield…

    I do like hex boards – Kallistra have a way the sink rivers buried on their site here by inverting their tiles and cutting the edges. I picked up a few to try but they are also in the pile!

    My current thought is to build up the Sarissa boards – see my thread here

    Avatar photoOotKust

    Cheers gents- well reasoned thoughts/ actions.

    Not against felts at all- still have mine, as I explained elsewhere tarted up with a bit of spray paint to ‘refresh’ their looks (broad 100mm and 25mm river/ streams x 1m lengths); roads dark brown ditto; BUA bases/ fields and of course the ubiquitous multi-sized melange of darkish green forest and woods bases- shown somewhere on here…

    But I’m looking to create a banked, more ‘awesome’ looking river line – no point in rules that make you align them to base edges, may as well just designate the edge anyway, and not bother with placing terrain.

    But sometimes you want the river to be the focus of attention, and/ or distraction for players. I have all the trees I need inland, but no, not river bank willows that ‘shade’ many a hazard, yet.

    That and 7 bridges of various types means I can make those focal points even better!

    And yes we have some fellows with plastic sheet rivers that are larger and look convincing. Perhaps I shoudl indulge- the heavier plastic forms not quite as convincing, and even more awkward when not ‘edged’ successfully. I think this is where adaptor pieces are required.


    Avatar photoAndrew Beasley

    For impact have a look at the railway builders.

    MarklinofSweden on YouTube has a great collection of water videos esp the waterfalls and use of tissue paper for waves / ripples.

    For stunning results (though not practical in a game) YouTubes Luke Towan must win!

    Avatar photoMr. Average

    I’m working with corrugated cardboard filler and plaster right now, set on 1/4” plywood tiles. I have had the thought that if every tile gets a 1-layer cardboard base then I could “depress” the rivers into the tile so they read as sunken.

    Avatar photoOotKust

    >>For impact have a look at the railway builders.

    Ahead of you on that Andrew- N Scale was my ‘alternate’ hobby as I spent a decade detailling and scenic a basement layout (loosely US based).

    Resins, crumpled aluminium foils etc. and ditto cardboard basing. I actually spent 4 years in corrugated packaging construction (chemicals/ paper/ starch and lots of steam etc..) so I’m practised in the dark arts there. Yes I agree a ‘depressed’ core is a good way of suggesting depth and levels in terrain if I was starting from scratch. However I’ve a myriad of polystyrene textured hills (or flats) that elevate for me.

    So I can get away with modest banks marking the edges. I’m recycling expanded foam flexible wraps cut into strips and variable width slices; glued down w common PVA then adding wall plaster texturing, some sand, my ‘ash’ [incense is great!- also recycling…].

    But I’m keen to review or blend ideas or concepts.

    Thanks dave

    Avatar photoSane Max

    I have never made a river I am fully happy with, so am following this with interest.

    Avatar photoAndrew Beasley

    Never tried N but dad and I built a HO board that took most of the dining room! N was way more expensive and involved a trip to Lincoln or Sheffield to see them in real life 🙂

    We did not mention water colour (ignoring alien worlds)…

    • Blue – classic and what the eye expects to see for water (kids paintings are at fault I think). Small streams look odd to my eyes when bright blue or even shaded to represent depth.
    • Brown / grey – more accurate to the ditches and drains locally due to the soil
    • Green – often seen in town here with ‘duck weed‘ [BBC] being the primary cause
    • Clear – resin over sandy or brown. Nice but a real pain to seal the edges of modular parts.
    • Yellow / green / yuck – pollution possible depending on the period
    • Ice – seen a fair number of great ices rivers (Woodland Scenics have a video on their site) but only practical if you are a deep winter gamer. Oddly I’m more relaxed over summer rivers placed on winter boards!

    The ones on the resin ‘to do pile’ are set to be brown / green with mod-podge to give the wet look I think but I may run one test strip as ‘classic but boring blue’…

    Avatar photoThaddeus Blanchette

    I chop up old x-rays for mine.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    Avatar photoOotKust

    We did not mention water colour (ignoring alien worlds)…


    I did post this which is why I was cogitating:

    Well better part of a month gone by and I put them aside again, many nearly 99% done and ready to base. However, put them aside to give the eyes a rest and surveyed not only the technical troops again, but also some terrain that was, embarrassingly started, almost two years ago.

    So some wide river sections (475mm x 120mm wide) and these angle/ curves/ direction changes- puttied and roughly contoured and coloured banks…

    There’s that difficulty knowing about other parts of the world and what they look like.
    I’ve tended to paint ‘deeper’ and green on own designs/ resins; tho the blue felt, well… I should take some cataloging pix I suppose.

    Max- lets see what develops. I’m not actively pursuing plastics at the mo’; as in lead piles, theres a backlog of unfinished new. refurb scenics also…

    Avatar photoMartinR

    My MDF River sections look very similar to yours above. I built up the banks with filler and used paint effects to give an impression of water depth. Grren/blue is a good colour for many rivers, although a lot of the time here they are brown or grey, depending on how much rain there has been or the colour of the sky. I don’t think I’ve seen the Rhine any colour other than grey/brown, even when it is sunny. Grey rivers would look a bit odd on the tabletop.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Avatar photoOotKust

    Here’s a presentation of ‘how he dunnit’ by Olicanalad on his blog”


    Whilst I like his style. he’s a rather ‘uniform’ man in a manner that mother nature is not. Not just his streams but also his hills are ‘man-made’ geometric shapes and frankly I do not care for them this way.

    His work techniques are perfectly fine. I’m also not a fan of the ‘wind-waves’ ripples perpendicular to the flow of water- yes they happen but mostly water pressure shows flow along rather than across.

    I see he wrote “ I’m planning on adding some less angular bends so that I can use it for games not based on a grid “ which explains the right angles, but again this is paradigm time- just because you use ‘grid’ references doesn’t mean all features must be…

    Well just my idiosyncratic nature I guess…


    Avatar photoOotKust

    I’ve not left, but thinking about a million issues (cant find anything because of the clutter!) and have scanned those blogs that may have a snippet of use.

    One guys ‘marshes’:

    which I agree is not a river, but its a close relative! Because…

    And from an ‘Ancient’- both player and period, the weather must have been very anti-climactic back in those days…

    The latter is leaning toward what I will do for my ‘wide’ river aka Northern Italy and Piedmont plains etc.

    And why ‘marshes’- a bit more water in this example than I’m thinking- well I’ve never seen the Winter Goldbach stream (Austerlitz) modelled at any time except as a strip.

    So as narrow as the channel(s) were, the complete feature was marsh lined, sodden (despite snowfall and icing over) and too wide for any random crossing.

    It appears both sides were cogniscent of this- perhaps the reason for the withdrawl of the Austrian sappers and bridge train.

    I would caution that some maps I’ve seen provide erroneous indications that any of the water courses here were passable- there were emphatically not except by the narrow defiles at villages/ bridges/ weirs all around the battlefield.

    Now I really must get my partially done scenics photographed as promised…

    Avatar photoNorm S

    I rely on three sources that sit on the table mat and then have the banks lined with trees anc Woodland Scenic lichen;

    a) The Last Valley does river section that are roughly 4” wide. They are MdF, with muddy brown / black water and small stone chips placed towards the banks. He does the shows, doesn’t have a website, but does FaceBook page.

    b) S&A scenics does similar. His water is bright blue and thin banks painted green and I think deserve some embellishment. He has a website.

    c) TimeCast do a latex river in a sort of Khaki colour.  They do different sizes. They take acrylic paint well. They don’t all butt up super neatly, but do lay nice and flat ….. even in my hot room! They also do bridges to sync with the various water widths.

    Battlefront do (or did) pre painted latex type sets.

    I have tried doing home made on the rear of plastic self adhesive  floor tiles ….. but never particularly successfully.

    Avatar photoOotKust

    I have tried doing home made on the rear of plastic self adhesive floor tiles ….. but never particularly successfully.

    I understand- while I use 600mx2 carpet tiling for some feature areas (and photography…) you’ve given me an idea-

    -those polyurethane flexi- leatherette type materials; made for wall coverings/ scenes -easily cut and shaped [rather than rigid square banks] however probably easily recoloured with water flow even if not equipped with actual ‘banks/ edges’ attached.

    I shall enjoy a trip to my local emporium of cheap and discounted goods (materials their forté)- dave

    Avatar photoAndrew Beasley

    Long time ago I saw some great vinyl floor tiles (may even have bought some – who knows 🙂 ) like these:

    Amazon U.K. packs of 28!  – OOS B01IBFT73Q

    Possible something similar could be used? They are often sticky backed (and tough to cut) but that should not be an issue…

    This manufacturer [Green Covering Factory] in China offers free samples!

    Warning – searching images often turns up ‘Flooring Dubai’ or ‘Floors Dubai’ – the sites have been hacked (or built deliberately) and you really do not want to download anything from there!

    Avatar photoOotKust

    Well finally got those river sections out and pixed… plus two styrene/ resin real, real old curves from the 90s.

    1- My sections- developed as above- 470mm long by 120 wide edge to edge (not 475mm as I wrote);

    iver Sections (2021)


    2- The styrene commercial products- curves with my colourations and what paint is lost in the distant past now. I’ll ‘recover’ with my current ‘hobby’ water paints to match some same sized units- 60mm river on 110mm overall widths.

    River Bends -Resin_1990s

    Two different styles yes, but I’m happy with that.
    By making additional sections, banked and ‘unbanked’ alluvial river courses, only one likely will appear at any given battle.

    At least I’ll not be attempting any Switzerland style terrain if I can help it (despite the obvious affinity with Suvorovs Campaign 1799.

    cheers -d


    Avatar photoAndrew Beasley

    This video popped up in my feed (no idea what “the algorithm” is doing – getting lots of small channels that actually match my interests) – based on cork tiles making ponds and lakes from Immersive Terrain:

    The plants done by paint work way better than the fish – I have seen some 3d printed fish but  would not go that far for anything other than a Koi pond TBH.

    The painting gives a nice result for a pond – not sure its workable for a river though.

    Avatar photoOotKust

    This video popped up in my feed…
    The painting gives a nice result for a pond – not sure its workable for a river though.

    thanks Andrew, interesting. I’m not sure who wants ‘elevated’ water, a single layer would suffice for gaming I’d imagine
    -and the resin worked well. (Again seen its use in railways etc).

    I’d reduce the steps (I guess if he’s selling commercially…) by not covering all the paint layers, less glue and paint waste etc. But the effect is good, if the fish needn’t be present at all.

    My ‘lake’ made over 40 years ago for a specific scenario has appeared in a few games, is usually a logistical nightmare usually (ie have to march around it…)- it comes in halves so it can attach to an edge.. pix to follow.

    Edit- Uploaded to my ‘Technical’ album on Flickr- two views linked there:-

    IMG_6921 by DaveW, on Flickr.
    My body tells me its nap time after a few hours of chores… cheers d

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