How to make a shallow stream?

I’m working on what I hope will be a jungle diorama with a stream running through it. I need help with making a shallow stream.
Any suggestions on what to use for the water and how to do it.
Thanks in advance.


I have had good luck with soaking layers of toilette paper in a white glue/water mix and then using a stiff brush to make the waves or ripples. Paint it various shades of green and brown and add 3-4 layers of a super glossy acrylic clear coat (out of a bottle) to add depth does the trick.


Wow that looks great! Gotta try that sometime.
You could also try woodland scenics products. They make a pourable liquid that comes in a bottle. It’s supposedly water soluble. It says only pour in 1/8” layers at a time. I used it many years ago for a small diorama for my sons dinosaur models and it worked great. Just paint the bed greens and browns; darker for more depth; and then pour this stuff on. You may want to experiment first.

First you need to decide what kind of stream it is.
Is it slow moving muddy water, consistency of thin soup?
Is it a clear mountain stream where you can see every square inch of the bottom?

Muddy Waters is a flat surface, brownish green covered by laquer to give it a wet look.
The almost drinkable mountain stream needs to be built as a three dimensional shape,
from the bottom up. Make the bottom shape, fill it with details, add some kind of acrylic
clear coat in layers to build the depth of water. Check model railroad supplies, they have
many different products for making water

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I have the product but have not used it yet.


first you need to decide if your jungle is single, double, or triple canopy cover. A single cover canopy is pretty clean looking with rocks (seems to always be around). The water will be fairly clear with a greenish tint to it. Double; things start to change. Water is darker colored with a tea like look to it. Plant growth will be up to the water’s edge. The streams are usually deeper (three to five feet being the norm, but upper elevations will show a foot to a foot and a half depth). Triple canopy will not really show a lot of current (but it’s there). Water is usually deeper, and very dark due to rotted vegetation. Soil in double and triple is usually dark brown to black. Then to sorta compound all this is the planned location of the stream. All water flows to a bigger body of water in the end. So the closer you are to the ocean the deeper and wider the stream. During the rainy season, they are all chocolate colored and pretty swift

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Check out Panther - Bridge - OOPs by Johnnych01 with a very nice shallow stream.

If the water is very still you can use glass. If you look at the attached image of a swamp you can see the shine on the glass. I use a piece out of a cheap picture frame. The beauty of glass is that you can dust it when it needs it.
For every modeller there will be a different approach.



All of the above comments made so far are all good ways to reach your goal. It is a learning experience for sure. I made a waterfront diorama and one of the last things I did was the water under the wharf. Let me say I was scared as I never did it before, and was worried that I would screw it up.If that happens, you just try again.
Recently though, I have been watching videos on YouTube by Luke Towan. He has many topics and is a great modeler to learn from. He covers all aspects from start to finish, and I would hope that you look at his videos for inspiration. Here is one that could help you:

Rivers & Streams - Realistic Scenery Vol.8 - YouTube

Good luck !


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I found a couple more videos by Luke Towan. Maybe something for you to use here.

Realistic Scenery Volume 3 - Modelling A River - Model Railroad - YouTube

How to build an Ultra Realistic River – Realistic Scenery Vol.13 - YouTube


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Liquitex Gloss Super Heavy Gel works fine. Here’s a couple of images of my harbour. It can be smoothed out or rough.



Wow! Gotta try that!

Yeah that stuff looks great, may have to pick some up.

@G-man69 made a very good diorama with a Bren carrier crossing a stream. Maybe he can elaborate on his technique…

I have the base almost ready. I have to add the tank crew, infantry and the stream. I don’t think I will add any more jungle as it might take away from the tank.


Nice, but the ground under your tree looks a bit to uniform of color for me, might be just caused by the picture…

The ground under the tree looks flat in the 1st picture. Here is a closer view.

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Ouch! Thrown track in the middle of a stream. Not fun! Should look great when you get it all finished up. If you will have the crew working on it in the stream, you will need to muddy up the water. Looking forward to this.

I think your groundwork looks excellent Lloyd, and the plants help lift the whole scenario, very impressive, :+1: :slightly_smiling_face:. Were the plants kits, or are they built from scratch?

The camouflage on the Stuart helps add another level of interest, very unusual scheme, :slightly_smiling_face:.

I might be a tad late offering a suggestion, but I’d noticed that my friend Erwin had referenced above a 1/35th build where I’d had my first ever attempt at doing water…

For this I used ‘Woodland Scenics Realistic Water’, the product was relatively inexpensive for a reasonable quantity, it’s clear, so you can add your own tints if you wish, and it was easy to work with, especially given it was my first attempt. It needs to be added in layers a couple of, mms deep max, until you achieve the required depth, with each layer being allowed to set, so deep water, such as that behind the bridge can take a good few days, whereas the water over the road ford was relatively quick. One thing though, the product lends itself to relatively calm water, if you’re looking for rough water then something else might be better.

Look forward to seeing an update on what you choose to use, and how easy you found it to work with as I need to create slightly rougher water on my next project, a 1/72nd scale quayside scene, though the puddles below are made using the same Woodland Scenics product…

Again, excellent build thus far, :+1: :slightly_smiling_face:.

G, :beer:


Almost ready to call it done. I have to flatten/dull it down a bit. Let me know where I’m going wrong.

Fin 05 Sm

Fin 13 Sm
Fin 15 Sm
Fin 18 Sm