River Bases

Super Simple River Bases for your Wargame Map.

creator: x14km2d | build: 2021-10-17 | update: 2021-12-30


After learning the first steps in the stone bases article, we will raise the level one step. We’ll start at the beginning of river bases again very simple and then increase from one tutorial to the next. We will also learn how to wipe colors when wet. This will help us later when we will paint our first minis. It’s always better to practice on cheap parts first or test out ideas before moving on to the expensive parts.


To be on the safe side, we will draw our rivers on the bases beforehand. At this point we can see if we like the idea and it is altogether easier to change pre-drawn lines than a whole glued-on river. To do this, it is best to use a waterproof pen, although a pencil should suffice for the white bases.

For the previous items, I used superglue as the adhesive. But that will be much too expensive in the long run, so I switched to wood glue. This has advantages but also disadvantages. Wood glue is much cheaper than superglue, which is an incredible advantage. Unfortunately, wood glue also takes much longer to dry than superglue which is a disadvantage. So if you only want to build a few small bases to use as soon as possible, you should use superglue. But since I manage a lot of projects at the same time, I can use wood glue and let it dry overnight for 24 hours.

Paint Job

We prime the bases with black acrylic paint. At this point we do not need a real primer from the spray can, because the acrylic paint holds just as well as Mod Podge or primer from the spray can.

After the black paint has dried, we apply the brown acrylic paint. This represents the shore in a small map, which is usually more brown than green. These bases can also be used on a world map or in a strategy game, where the brown color represents the undergrowth or tree stumps.

The green color represents either the bushes or the trees to wind on a bank. it can also be a whole forest, as a game or dungeon master you should briefly explain this to your players beforehand so that there are no misunderstandings.

Now we come to the exciting part of the article. We will mix colors and apply them in such a way that they give a fading. With this you can make something more detailed. For example, as in our case, the river. We apply white and blue color next to each other on our color palette. We draw with the brush a little white and blue color in the middle of the two colors and mix them there until they give a nice lighter blue. if we want to have the color lighter, we simply mix in more white. If we want our color darker, we mix in more blue again. What looks very simple here can become very complex when you combine a lot of colors. We are just learning the basics here.

We will mix the colors together while they are still wet. First we apply the unmixed blue dark color. Then we will paint on the edge with the mixed light blue color. Why? A river is darker in the middle because it is deeper there and therefore less light rays are reflected to reach our eye. We ignore the fact that very few rivers on our planet are really blue. So this is an authentic river, not a realistic one. In our game world, the rivers are blue so that players can recognize them as rivers and not, for example, as brown paths.

After we have applied both colors, we mix them together on the base until they form a beautiful transition. You can experiment at this point and test how you like it best. In the last step we will apply the unmixed white color in fine strokes. This represents the foaming out at the water. Wherever water moves faster in the flow, it usually starts to foam and thus becomes lighter.


Ready are our river bases. I have put up a hero here, so that you can see better how to use the bases. Of course, you don’t have to represent them as a complete river course, but you can also place them as single objects in a strategy game. There are almost no limits to your creativity.

I post these beginner articles here for another reason. I see this super often on the internet or even in videos how beginners (and also professionals) start big projects and then don’t continue them because they get a creative burnout or artist block. It’s good to start with really small projects first and learn them properly and understand them completely. The techniques you learned here today can be applied to much larger projects and very quickly you won’t like these simple techniques and you will automatically start experimenting. If you want to learn more about colors you can also watch the art 24/7 stream of Bob Ross. This person taught me as a child (on TV) how to paint first pictures and how colors harmonize with each other. As a beginner you can learn a lot of tricks, even if you don’t paint with oil colors.


If you want to upgrade the river bases with a very simple technique, there is a very simple trick. Washing. A wash is a glaze that is applied to base colors. Because this color is so fluid, it gets into all the little nooks and crannies. This can be used not only to fix small imperfections, but also to completely enhance the base. Washing is also used when painting minis, if you rather play with your figures in a wargaming round instead of just painting them for the show. For my river bases I used the blue tone and the green tone from Army Painter. For other models these washes were too bright for me, but here they fit really well. The washing gives the bases more depth and looks much better, but it is not a universal solution.

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