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.

It’s very possible the Big Kahuna Bundle deal will no longer be available, come Friday.

I’m still in two minds about it, but I think as the range of buildings grows, I need to put other bundles together.

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.



71 Responses to Thomas’ river layout

  1. Colin Pryce says:

    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. DonJ says:

    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. Brian says:

    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. maverick405 says:

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

  6. David says:

    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. Jim says:

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

  8. MIKE,Seattle WA says:

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

  9. Brian says:

    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. Mike Wilson says:

    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. Anthony says:

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

  13. Jim Aspin says:

    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. builder Kim says:

    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. John Wisnieski says:

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

  16. barry says:

    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. Perry says:

    Looks good. Well done

  18. Dave says:

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

  19. Jerry Marcotte says:

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


  20. paul starr says:

    Impressive really sums it up.

  21. Bud says:

    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. Thomas Meleck says:

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

  23. Cat says:

    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. Bonny McDaniel aka Grannytoot says:

    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. Thomas Scardina says:

    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. StJohn says:

    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. seth says:

    Looks just like a river I know here in kansas

  29. paul Otway says:

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

  30. Tom Pica says:

    Job well done!!! The realism is terrific.

  31. Toni Olivar says:

    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. Fritz In Pacific Missouri USA says:

    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. Tom says:

    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. Ray Appenzeller says:

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

  35. THOMAS says:


  36. Ron says:

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

  37. Ben Taul says:

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

  38. Jim says:

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

  39. THOMAS says:


  40. Christine says:


  41. Paul B 60 says:

    Super white water effect, well done 🙂

  42. Chuck Copeland says:

    Great looking water.

  43. Curtis says:

    Looks Great!

  44. Christopher Braxton says:

    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. Wayne W. says:

    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.

  47. MICHAEL GLASS says:

    LOOOOOOOOVE, The whitewater.

  48. Mike Richardson says:

    Great job. so realistic. I really like it. I have a river I need to start on. Thanks for the tips and ideas on how to do it

  49. Don Kadunc says:

    Great river. I am about to ad a river and will wait for your “how to”. If I can be half as good as your river, I will feel successful.

  50. Jerry Michnewicz says:

    Nice job! But, way to blue.

  51. David Pearsall says:

    Great job on your river scene. I have just started my river and glad that you just posted your pictures. My theme is the Hill Country of Texas. I have been gathering rocks, tree limbs, etc. to put into and along side my river.
    Looking forward to your how to.
    Take care, Dave

  52. Fred says:

    Very nice effects 👌

    Fred Wilbury Line

  53. Bobb in the house says:

    WOW!!!!!!!!! What else can be said!!!

  54. Art says:


    Overall it is great, BUT the river looks a little foamy? Unnaturally so. Sorry for the criticism.

  55. DJfromNJ says:

    Best I’ve ever seen. Congrats, Thomas! As THE artist, you certainly have enough ideas from which to choose, should you want to make changes. Great work!

  56. Herman Crauwels says:

    Whouw dis is a wonderful and verry realystic waterfal, i never heff sien better.
    Keep one doining de good work.
    HC Treintje Belgium.

  57. Wayne Rybak says:

    Color is great but rocks are too big

  58. Wonderful job!

  59. Robert Brady says:

    Nice scenery Mountain streams tend to be grayish clear not the color of the ocean The babbling flo is spot on just a little color variance.You asked i suggested.
    The Critic.

  60. Paul says:

    To DonJ,
    Your idea to put logs, campsites and all that stuff would take away the natural beauty of the landscape.. Maybe on a larger layout, that would work.
    Overall, nice layout. Perfectly balanced

  61. Don’t know which to grab first, my towel or fly rod. Water is amazing. Looks very real.

  62. Roger says:

    Excellent first effort
    You have wisely asked for some constructive criticism, so I’m going to offer some
    I agree with other responders that the rocks are too big, the water is too blue, and you need river tree debris
    With regards to the water itself, it is difficult to tell from the photos, but there does not seem to be a direction of flow. The surface river current isn’t seen, rather it looks like random wave patterns. This is also evidenced in the white water. White water is created by changes in depth, debris, and wind. Wind will only be a factor at very high velocities and isn’t a factor for modeling. Instead, I would concentrate on wave patterns around objects and more linear wave patterns thru flats. Take a look at some color photos of say, the Colorado river. You will see what I mean. I’m also fly fish, so I have studied this. I think the pattern and quantity of the white water is unrealistic.
    This said, your model is esthetically beautiful, and as you have noted, is fantastic on your first try

  63. Very nice. Excellent work. Thanks for sharing.

  64. Thank you. I really enjoy you site. I’m a modeler by heart not in practice.

  65. David S. says:

    Thomas, you have inspired me to add a stream to the HO project I’m working on. I do a lot of fly fishing in southern Colorado and New Mexico. Streams and rivers have eddies and pools behind rocks where fish hang out. Adding this kind of detail would be difficult in N scale. Your whitewater and other details (using real rocks) have provided me with great ideas, thanks!

  66. Thomas Busler says:

    I really liked the water and rocks. One thing I noticed that no one has commented on is the overhanging cliff in the last photo. Nice touch. Most model mountains just slope.

  67. Frank Stanley says:

    Wonderful effort with outstanding results. We took a little different approach. Taking cost and time into consideration purchased the following: suggest visit the Stratagem Store, look at Rushing Waters Wargaming Rivers & Lake Neoprene Battlemat Terrain – 15 Pieces! Over 12 feet of 4″ Wide Rivers. About $40 and custom design river and lake installed in about 30 minutes. Great cost savings. May or may not be for you, but did for us. 3 36” waterfalls empty into the river as it progresses toward a small lake. Hope this helps.

  68. Kevin D Imes says:

    Great job. Like others, would be interested in the 10 layers and stages of colors and the process. never done it. no clue what you did, but I like it.

  69. GHenry says:

    Great vision and talented execution. Though the preponderance of ingenious terrestrial and river-rock here in the State of Maine is granite, your work is in every regard representative of the boulder fields, water hues and scene scale prevalent throughout northern New England.

  70. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Hi good river effect you have created. Major comment the colour. The surrounding rock and banks are reddish brown whereas your river is bright blue. I think it should have been much muckier like brown water. It would still show up the water cascading and the white tops but would fit in better than what looks like a blue fairground ride.

  71. John Philip Ruetz says:

    I agree with Bonny aka Grannytoot . I’ve seen a lot of rivers and they all very to some degree . Big rocks sometimes become dislodged from mountains and fall into rivers below and are not instantly ” rounded ” . I also agree with Harold C. Brown . It is YOUR layout . Listen to other views but in the end it’s YOUR layout and if YOU want to make changes go ahead, if not , enjoy it YOUR way. Good job.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *