How Not To Make Scenics: Rivers

Ok, so every project I do is generally an experiment, whether it’s painting or scenery making. However, I have a heck of a lot more experience with painting so the experiments tend to work most of the time, with scenery it can be a bit hit and miss.

The following guide shows how I turned a sheet of Foamboard into a section of river. I made some mistakes along the way but I am happy with the end result. However pay close attention to the areas I felt I did wrong and learn from my mistakes.


I started with a sheet of 5mm A4 foamboard. This river is intended to be used as modular wargames prop, if I were building a full table I’d be aiming for something much deeper than 5mm. As you can see I marked the board 1 inch in on both long sides and half an inch on the shorter sides. This will be important for making the river work in a modular fashion.


I then added wavey lines but made sure that each end of the river would be at the 1” markers.


Using a Stanley knife I cut through the top layer of card, ensuring the bottom layer remained intact. Then extending the blade (as a sort of bladed fish slice) I cut away the entire inner section.


As you can see this left a very rough river bed. I also left some islands at the far end. This is both awkward and time consuming. I also punctured the base several times so I used gaffer tape (which I have easy access to) to seal the base on the back side. It would also be a good idea to mount the section on some thin mdf or hardboard to stop it warping. I had neither.


Once again I used the knife to cut away the edges. This time I was cutting at an angle to give that sloping edge. I then used a file to smooth the whole thing down.


Using Battlefield Brown, Bloodtracker Brown and Moldy Ochre I painted the river basin. As you can see this section will include a ford. I didn’t paint the banks at this time but I will later paint them Battlefield Brown. When I make further sections of the river I will purchase larger cheaper paints to accomplish this effect as it used quite a lot of my paint to do just this one section.


Next I used various packs of stones from Javis and Decor Plus to build the banks and ford. Random larger stones were used at the far end of the river. GF9 Spring Undergowth was used for the islands. Noch Scenics tufts were placed in various areas and some GF9 Clump Foliage and Javis Static Grass was added for flavour.


Until it looked like this. I didn’t bother shaking off the excess stuff as the resin water would seal it nicely. Then I took dropper bottles of Flesh Wash Ink and Brown Ink and randomly used these to add different amounts of shading to the basin. This is very easy to accomplish as the rough pitted surface created by knifing the foam out of the way creates a great surface for the ink to run into.

HOWEVER leave it to dry, preferably over night… I did not!


The next stage was to pour in the Water Effects (Woodlands Scenics from Antenocitis Workshop). This is a little difficult but once I got the speed right it was easy enough. There are several things I did wrong here. Firstly the ink wasn’t dry so the resin picked it up and became brown. Secondly, I poured it over all the grasses, which instead of poking through like they would through water, were doused with a layer of resin, which they soaked up and turned dark green and rock solid. The final thing I did wrong was that my desk is not level, so as I left it to dry, all the resin ran to the one end of the river, leaving the other end bone dry.

It took me two days to even this out. TOP TIP: pour resin water ONLY onto a flat surface and leave to dry overnight.


Once the river was dry I cut away the end pieces, this was easier than I thought it might be, I was expecting disaster. I then mixed up some procreate and built up the river banks. When I do the other sections I will use the much less expensive Milliput.


See, banks painted brown, I knew there was a reason I waited until now to do it.


After that was dry I added a layer of Gale Force 9 Earth, followed by patches of Spring Undergrowth. Using Superglue I added a grass verge of Javis Summer Mix Static Grass to the Procrete bank I built earlier.


More Decor Plus Basing Grit was added to the banks and ford, along with some larger stones from the park, a couple of weed clumps from Silflor and some patches of static grass, again using superglue.


As this picture fails to show piles of leaves and more Weed Clumps were added to the bank, along with single leaves, added using superglue as a bonding agent. Once again, I used a wetted paint brush to pick up single leaves and place them onto a dot of superglue.

I actually found this effect much more pleasing than the clumps of leaves. The other bank was then completed using the same method. The islands in the stream were re-covered with spring undergrowth and a couple of single leaves were added to the river to give the effect that they were floating on the water.


And that’s the finished result. As you can see, it’s a little warped, but gluing it to something stiff like MDF would solve that. I made a lot mistakes but it still turned out ok in the end, or at least I think so, plus I learnt a lot about being patient when dealing with resin…

Well, what next? I have no idea but I’m sure I’ll come up with something, so until next week, have fun gaming!




  1. Hi Chris - would you use the weed clumps for figure basing? I like the look of them, but wonder if they are a bit too chunky for 28mm figures?

  2. Hey Sam,

    The tufts come in 2 sizes, 4mm and 6mm, for use on models on 25mm bases the 6mm ones I'm using are probably a bit big (take up too much space), but I used them on the wolves and they look great. I'd say on a 30mm+ base the 6mm ones are fine and that the 4mm ones would work on anything smaller.


Post a Comment