A dry river bed, 15mm sci-fi scenery.

A while back after a clear out at the club ( and a lucky raffle ticket!! ) I ended up with some of my club’s old scenery and it has sat in a box collecting dust ever since, but I have finally got some of it out to try and do something with it.

The scenery is some old river sections made of some sort of expanded foam, it is very hard!! And to be honest very ugly!!

I know it is very hard because I have tried to cut away some of the edges, if I need to cut any more sections away I will probably add a cutting disk to my mini-drill, hopefully that will be easier.

What I intend to do with these river sections is turn them into a dried up river bed which the locals use as a road across the dry desert like world my 15mm sci-fi gaming is based on, I do have another load of the river sections which I will keep as rivers, but they will need repainting and generally tidying up as well, but that will be for another time.

So back to the dry river bed sections, I have selected thirteen pieces to use on my six foot by four foot table, this means when put together they easily span the length and width of my gaming table and will still give me several variations in their layout.

So first off I cleaned them all of any loose flacking paint ( which there was a lot! ) then I cut away three or four edges to show where vehicles had left the river bed to go to settlements or installations on a regular basis ( these will lead into normal dry dusty tracks ) this was needed as all these river sections have raised “banks” on both sides, these will have more modelling done to them to show vehicle tracks etc.

Other than those sections I will not be doing much actual modelling to these pieces as they look fairly rocky on the edges already and as I am using 15mm figures with these the rocky edges look great.

I will be adding a little sand and maybe the odd extra rock or two to give them a little individuality ( there are a few identical river sections ) the extra sand etc. will also give a little more texture for the paint to pick out.

I would normally add the extra texture and stuff before I prime, but as these river sections are really old and worn and the paint was all flaky so I added a primer first to bring it all together and make it easier to see how they will eventually look as a dry river bed.

I will probably scratch off some of the primer in the areas I want to add the texture to so that it has a chance of a better bond, but that should be very easy and quick to do ( I actually just gave the areas a quick rub down with some sand paper which worked well )

These pictures show the different sections after priming ( they are a bit shiny as the primer was still wet ) as you can see there are a good few different sections hopefully giving a nice meandering dry river bed for my games, the primer was Vallejo German Dark Yellow.

Once this was dry I started adding the sand to the sections, first off I added some extremely fine sand as these are meant for 15mm figures I hoped that this would look ok once it was painted.

Once this was dry I added some sections of slightly courser sand with a few bigger bits mixed in with it.

This gave a nice rough rocky effect in several places across the river sections, once dry I was hoping that these will look good when painted.

Next step was to re-prime all the texture stuff that I added, again using the German Desert Yellow.

Next step was a quick coat of a Vallejo brown dipping mixture, this was watered down so it would go on similar to a wash, this gave a little shadow to the stones and sand which should make things stand out more once I have dry brushed the sections.

The first dry brush I did was a Model Color Dark Sand on all of the stones and the surface rocks hitting almost every part of each section, then I hit only the very top surfaces with a dry brush using Model Color Buff.

This picks out all the detail really nicely, all that will need to be done now will be some extra shading and a light dry brush with an off white for just the very tips of the stones.

So I added a quick wash of a watered down Agrax Earthshade around all the rocky areas on the sections and this gave the extra shadows I wanted around those areas, I didn’t want this to be too dark as this was meant to be a dusty sandy dry river bed not a muddy road.

Then I did a very quick and very light dry brush of Model Color Bonewhite on all the top surfaces just to finally pick out the detail and to make everything look even lighter.

Then the final stage was a quick coat of Vallejo Matt Varnish and then last of all adding a few dry grass tufts to give the sections that little bit extra detail.

And there they are all done and ready for use in a game or two, here are a couple of pictures of them with some of my 15mm sci-fi figures and vehicles.

The below picture shows the sections on a 6-foot table and they cover it easily and I still have five small sections not used so I have plenty of options for the layout of the road.

A close up of the convoy travelling along the dry river bed.

Well they were quick and simple to do but I think they look ok and should work well as a dusty old dry river bed that is being used as a road, I hope to get a game in sometime using this scenery, maybe I will do an ambush of a convoy!

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    • Mac

      Hi Jack,

      Thanks, I am pleased with how they turned out.

      As someone suggested on TMP these could also be used as a dried stream for 28mm figures and I hadn’t thought about that… so a plus! 😉


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