Water features are perceived as being one of the hardest things to recreate realistically and effectively on a Model Railway layout. But like most things, if you break them down into smaller, more manageable chunks, they’re actually not that hard to do. So to help you on your way, today we’ve compiled a list of 11 of our favourite tips for adding water features to a model railway layout.
- Look at the real thing first. Whether you’re modelling a fast flowing river, canal, lake or even an ocean, look at how the water flows, which areas are still, how the waves look etc.
- Never assume that the water is bright blue. Real water rarely is. Study its colours and take plenty of photos.
- Paint your river bed or lake bed with acrylic or enamel paints before you apply your water fluid. You can simulate depth by varying the shades you use. Choose darker shades for the middle to represent deeper water. Use lighter shades at the edges to simulate shallower water.
- Water is everywhere in real life, so every layout deserves a water feature. From puddles to streams, rivers to oceans. Always try and fit something in somewhere.
- Add realism to your model railway river or lake by gluing shopping trolleys, old tyres and junk, pebbles, gravel and rocks to the bed before you apply your water fluid. Use PVA to secure these in place. Don’t forget to throw in some old branches too!
- Don’t neglect the riverbank or shore line. In real life, there are always reeds, tall grasses, bushes and overhanging branches all along the waters edge. Use combinations of scenic materials to obtain the most realistic effect you can.
- If you’ve never created a water feature on a model railway layout before, try one of Noch or Woodland Scenics water kits, or the Scenic Water from Deluxe Materials.
- Make sure the area of the baseboard your applying the water fluid to is level. Otherwise you could end up with an unexpected leak.
- If you’re using a two part resin fluid, be very careful to mix the fluids in the exact quantities recommended by the manufacturer. Failure to do so may result in a water feature that will never dry out!
- Be patient when building water features. Build the water up in layers, allowing it to thoroughly dry out before you apply the next one. Always follow the manufacturers instructions.
- Do not pour on the liquid to a great depth as you risk it never properly drying out. Shallow layers are much better and they will always remain nice and clear too!
As with all areas of a model railway layout, patience is a key ingredient to achieving realism, so take your time. Whether you’re adding a few small puddles, a garden pond or a huge lake, take your time and it will pay off in the end.
Well, I hope you find these tips useful when adding water features to your Model Railway Layout. Don’t forget, if you have any tips of your own that you’d like to add to this article to help your fellow railway modellers out, feel free to post them in the comments below! I’ll be back with more hints, tips and reviews shortly!