How to Model Rivers

How to Model Rivers

This week we’re looking at modelling clear rivers such as in the photos below. This technique suits a natural water course without any boat traffic. Looking at prototype photos and most larger rivers are muddier so this technique suits smaller water courses. Larger rivers and canals are generally muddier and suit last week’s technique better.

Aberdulais Falls
Aberdulais Falls
Whitinsville, USA
Whitinsville, USA
Maine, USA
Maine, USA
Cuyahoga Scenic Valley Railroad
Cuyahoga Scenic Valley Railroad

It is a simple but effective technique which involves painting the river bed to look as if there is a depth of water and then using a thin coat of resin to apply the final watery finish. A few gloss medium ripples and the river is done.

Tools and Materials

All of these materials are commonly available in either a DIY store or art shop. Online shops will also carry them.

    • Epoxy resin – either Magic Water or Envirotex Lite will do
    • Mixing cup and stirrer
    • River bed coloured paint
    • Acrylic gloss medium – a thick gel used by artists.  Available online or in shops such as Hobbycraft.
    • Gloss Varnish – I use Vallejo in this episode.
    • Scenery material

For the Dam:

  • Silicone adhesive or silicon sealant
  • Foam board or stiff card
  • Clingfilm


00:32 The Real World
00:50 Tools and Materials
01:48 Method
08:29 Final Result
09:04 Scale Kathys
10:18 Close

The whole modelling water course series can be found by clicking here.

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2 thoughts on “How to Model Rivers”

  1. Great variation Kathy, much better close-up shots at the end. Surface really works well – although you use your gloss gel very differently to terranscapes technique.

    1. Thanks Vicki. I’m trying on the close ups! Everyone’s techniques are slightly different which is what makes it all so fascinating. Basically, you can’t go wrong!

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