Workbench: Making A River

As well as a huge GNW project I am also revamping all of my terrain, including repainting the baseboards etc so everything is the same colour, and looks like one landscape.  
I thought I would share my method for making rivers, as they seem to be turning out quite well.
First, I bought a load of 1mm thick black plasticard.  Plasticard is actually a brand name, and what you actually want is HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene Sheet).  I got mine here as they are a good price of around £1.40 for a large sheet.
I cut them using a stanley knife, wavey along the edges, just making sure each end was the right width.  I have done river sections in 6″, 4″, 3″ and 2″ wide sections, with “connectors” that taper between each width, allowing a river to be a variable width if needed.
The HIPS is really easy to just score with the knife and then “snap” out. I made all the base sections (a total of over 50) in two hours.
After cutting out the HIPS sheet, I ran a bead of cheap brown acrylic builders caulk (from ebay, about £2 a tube) about a centimeter inside each edge, then used my finger to smooth it ouwards, creating an internal bank that tapers to nothing at the outside edge.
Then I applied pva to the top of the banks, leaving the bit facing the water smooth, then put fine sand over.
Next step was painting the banks in a watered down green paint.  When that dried I drybrushed a lighter tone on. The colours were a base of “aloe vera” and the highlight was “grazing green”, both are available from B&Q in the UK in the custom-mix paint section, costing about £15 a litre.  I have used this combination for all the terrain I am revamping so it is unified.

 The next step was to use vallejo khaki grey along the water-facing bank, and to create some shallows. 
I then used some grey granite ballast from ebay to make raised sections in the water, for drifts of rock. 
Then the “magic” took place.  I bought a couple of tubes of the below artists gloss medium from ebay for about £6 each.
 
This was then generously stippled on with a flat brush to create running river effect with plenty of “waves”.

These sections were then left to dry for about a week until they were totally clear.  The results are quite striking:
And here is several sections laid out next to each other.  You can see the final piece is a taper to nothing, which will work well with the new marsh sections I have also made.
So that’s how I made my rivers cheaply, robustly, and I think looking pretty realistic as well.  Total cost, about £30, which seems dirt cheap to me for about 36 feet of river!
Next up….Swedish artillery photos soon, and on the painting table Swedish commanders.

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