How to Build N-Scale Model Trains With Water, Rivers & Ponds

Written by philip powe
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How to Build N-Scale Model Trains With Water, Rivers & Ponds
Hobbyists enjoy creating a realistic environment for their train. (toy train image by pearlguy from

Construction of your own model train board is a very rewarding experience. To simulate actual surroundings of a selected area you will want to add some form of water. This procedure can be accomplished with oil paints, paint knife and a brush. Although water, creeks, lakes and rivers are different water structures the technique is the same.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Pencil
  • Oil paints (multiple shades of blue and brown are natural choices)
  • Paint palette
  • Paint knife
  • Various paintbrushes

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  1. 1

    Determine where you plan to place the water feature. It is best to put ponds near farms and larger bodies of water in centrally located areas of the board. Rivers can be drawn from or to both structures and can also be drawn from hilly and mountainous areas.

  2. 2

    Draw in the outline of the feature. This will determine where it will be placed.

  3. 3

    Mix the blue paints on the paint palette with the knife. Do not overmix the paint because the shading will make a better representation of the water feature, giving it a more natural feel.

  4. 4

    Apply the paint with the paint knife. It should be a little thick, about 1/4 inch. Spread it out to the lines you have determined the water feature will accomodate.

  5. 5

    Sculpt the paint before it dries to apply lumps and ridges, simulating waves. Altering the size of brushes that you are using will increase the realism of the feature.

  6. 6

    Allow the paint to dry. This may take a couple of days due to the paint thickness.

  7. 7

    Paint in the shores of the structure. Mix the brown paints in the same way as the blue paints. Use the brushes to fill in the shore. This will give you a better control of the lines. This will also allow you to paint in small dried tributaries.

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