Thomas’ river layout

“Hello Al

I was wondering what you thought of my river? It is 10 layers of 4 colors of paint clear silicon and satin clear to give it depth and texture. All the rocks are natural. This is my first attempt at a river, do you have any comments or suggestions.

I love your site.


(Images are clickable)

And now – all good things must come to an end.

My boy’s Big Kahuna Bundle deal will no longer be available, come Friday.

He’s done some more wonderful low relief buildings – and in his words, “If you add them to the Big Kahuna Bundle deal, I’ll be giving them away…”

So on Friday, they’ll be two bundle deals. Low relief buildings, and all the others.

So if you still want to get all the great buildings (yes, of course, I’m biased) for $3 each – now’s the time…

Anyhow, that’s all this time folks. Please do keep the tips and pics coming. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

And don’t forget the ebay cheat sheet – get comments pretty much everyday on it, so I’ll carry on.



46 Responses to Thomas’ river layout

  1. Thomas, you certainly have got the water right judging from the pics you sent. The “white water” is very realistic. It would be very interesting to see a “how to ” from you on how you did the 10 layers. probably the best foaming water I’ve seen.

  2. A very realistic river you have created there Thomas …well done

  3. Good job about making the river. The colors and the white water are good also. One comment – I believe there are too many rocks and the size of the rock are wrong for HO Scale. A few of those big rocks – GREAT.
    You might want to try placing some log tree trunks or branches in the water or near the water or old rubber tires etc. A camping scene of a family and a dog. How about some Boy Scouts doing CAMPING MERIT BADGE work on the stream banks – pitching tents and fire building (with a flicking light in the fire.) Maybe some old rusted automobiles or parts of autos in the water as if the driver went off a road and crashed into the water. How about some people swimming in a tidal pool or in canoes or rowboats paddling or rowing along. This is why I suggested the rocks were to large for the scene. Please take this as good and corrective comments. Remember, you asked for opinions. This scene could become a large module.

  4. Some really good modelling here, Thomas. Just a couple of suggestions:-
    1. from my European experience, rivers and sea are never as blue as we imagine or would like them to be.
    2. darkening of the rocks at the waterline and just above would add to the realism

  5. Great stuff Thomas, even down to the ‘wet look’ rocks.

  6. We live near the Rio Grande in Southern New Mexico. My layout is going to be the river and BNSF that is on the road we live on. Would like to get your how to ideas. Like the other gentleman said. That is the best water I have ever seen.

    Thanks for Sharing

  7. Best looking water I have ever seen! PLEASE….give us some more information on how you did it.

  8. I agree with David that is a VERY REALISTIC river. Job well done

  9. This river is excellent. I’d like to see a “How-to” on this one also. Very realistic.

  10. these water scenes are so realistic, just wonderful to view, it is the first one I’ve seen that has truly impressed me congrats job well done.

  11. Hi Thomas,

    if I could get my rivers /creeks to look half as good I’d be very happy. The same as everyone else I would love for you to do a “How To”

  12. Thomas this shows real talant, taken with some comments above as to size and color, it is the work of a true artist.

  13. Great water.
    Maybe not too many rocks but less height above the water level thus reducing the relative size?
    I’m a fan of using natural products as you have! I used moss sprayed w clear flat finish, to keep the color, once for field vegetation.
    I too
    say “woo woo”,
    For a “How To”
    from you.

  14. Thomas that is a super nice build.Love how the water foams.Just a tiny idea.dont wet down the top of the rocks.wish I could do as well.think Thomas you could do a how to each stage.would help a lot who wants to try it.did you use resin the first time.sort of make a base to work on? thanks Thomas for the great idea.Thomas after seeing this sure would like to see the rest of the I can snoop lol

  15. River and rocks look great! However the curves are too tight for the length of passenger cars.Keep up the good work.

  16. Please send a diagram and instructions on how you did this . I am doing something similar with kayakers coming through the rocks. ala whitewater training. similar to the olympics. thanks,

  17. Thomas
    Looks good. Well done

  18. All I can say is WOW! Absolutely beautiful and yes please post a HOW TO DO.

  19. Hello Thomas: Great work! Makes you want to jump in with a kayak!


  20. Impressive really sums it up.

  21. your “whitewater” is exceptionally well done and so i think some whitewater rafters could relly add to the scene. people doing something add to the scenery we create, such as fishing, camping, hiking to bring it to life.
    That said you did an incredible job on the look of your water.

  22. That is one raging river. I’d hate to have to canoe down it. Congratulations.

  23. Wow your river is spectactular, I hope my water on my river look’s so good!


  24. I think your river is out standing. Great job.

  25. Thomas: Yes, the water rapids look good. I don’t think the boulders are too big as I’m a born and bred mountain gal that has seen many streams with large rocks. However, when rocks have been in a stream for eons, they are not as sharp angled as those…they are very rounded. I’m not sure you could remove these and replace with something that looks more like river rock but that would look more realistic. Also, someone commented about the blue of the water…streams, no matter how active, have places, usually along the edges or in some eddies around rocks, where the water has a very greenish cast. I do see a little green but it needs to be intensified especially below where you have the shrubs near the bridge. But, all in all, a very good effort.
    Bonny aka Grannytoot

  26. I want to thank all of you for your wonderful comments and suggestions. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. This is N scale and I tried to do some of your suggestions, but they were so small you could not tell what they were. The river is actually more green than blue, but the flash brought the blue out. The huge rocks are because of a river I saw when I was a kid. I wondered where they came from, and found out that near by abandoned mine dumped them along the river and some rolled in. That is why they were sharp and not rounded. In the spring with runoff they were covered up for the most part. During the summer and fall as the water level went down you could see how huge they actually were. That was what I wanted to show. Besides I get to tell a great story from my childhood when people ask me why they are so big. I am still building the rest of the layout. There is a big mine, and there will be mountains on both sides of the river. I will share as I get further along. It is a 4×8 layout. It will run 3 trains at the same time. 2 on the valley floor and 1 on the mountains with a bridge over the river.
    I did write a “How-to” Al said he will publish it next.
    Thank you so much I can’t believe all the “Best you have ever seen” comments I am so humbled y your praise. Happy Railroading Thomas

  27. verry nice water effect Thomas, and cant wait for the How-to to get published as I want to do the same to my river….thanks

  28. Looks just like a river I know here in kansas

  29. it looks so realistic, you could almost swim in it.

  30. Job well done!!! The realism is terrific.

  31. Your story about the boulders makes sense. Visually going down thru the rapids gives me motion sickness. That would be one mean ride down thru those rapids. Luckily, I’m planning for a simple stream on my layout.

    Nice workmanship, Thomas.

  32. In Union-Pacific Country (Missouri) the rocks are not to big but water may be greener or less blue since most rivers are lined with trees and shade the rivers. I like what you did an also would like more info on process…

  33. All the products you added the detail especially the river make for a fine piece of workmanship Be very proud of it.
    Thomas, a job well done!

    Best regards,


  34. Excellent realism and effect! Well done! I like the white water surges and foam effect. Spectacular!


  36. That river looks good and the white water almost had me reaching for my canoe and paddles.

  37. great job looks like a scene from the rocky mtns. or pac north west

  38. Great job. Very realistic river. I especially like your treatment of the white water.


  40. Repeat.

  41. Super white water effect, well done :-)

  42. Great looking water.

  43. Looks Great!

  44. Really great job

  45. Thomas:

    Again job well done for the purposes of YOU the designer. Looks great, professional just like the river YOU wanted to depict. Like your ideas of sharing also…….will look forward to the detailed “How to” the way you have shown it and received high comments from people who gave a honest opinion of what they saw. Please do NOT heed the garbage from others that do not show their work next to yours. Thx much for sharing what you have displayed. Harold Jr.

  46. Thomas,
    Very nice looking river. There are surely some trout lurking below those large rocks so a couple of people fishing might be a nice touch.

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