Sunday, November 18, 2018

Making Rivers for Kallistra Hex Terrain

I have been using Kallistra hex terrain for a while now and am very pleased with the results, especially for Commands & Colors games.

One thing that I have always thought is wrong with most wargames terrain, mine included, was that rivers and lakes were placed on top of the terrain. In the real world rivers and lakes are sunk down into the terrain. I believe that a much better visual appearance is achieved if such watercourses are sunk below the surface of the playing area. A friend of mine came up with a great way to solve this problem when using Kallistra hex terrain and I copied him. This works for rivers, shorelines and other such waterways.

Now I needed half-a-dozen more straight sections, so I decided to post a how-to here on my blog.

Here's one recipe for how to do it 

To get the river at a lower level than the surrounding ground, just use the normal Kallistra hexes but turn them upside down. This gives you a deep hole to use. To get the river to blend in with the surrounding terrain, I gave the areas nearest the edges a base coat of Dulux Salisbury Stone and flocked them with Spring Meadow as described in Kallistra's How To Guides.

List of Ingredients

  • Kallistra's single brown hexes: HEXIIS/BR Single Hex Pack - BROWN - 10 pieces plus clips 
  • N50210 Noch Flock - Spring Meadow - 100g Bag 
  • Dulux vinyl matt emulsion, colour:30YY23246, Salisbury Stone (However as this isn't available in Sweden so I used the Alcro equivalent instead: NCS S 5020-Y10R). 
  • Modelling Clay. I used Panduro's Terrakotta Hobby Clay 
  • White PVA Wood Glue. Best used when new and fresh because it loses its adhesive qualities over time, especially if it has been stored in a cold place such as a garage or shed over a winter period. 
  • Fine sand - available from any good pet shop. 
  • Green stuff. (Optional) 
  • Paint. See below. 
  • Matt Varnish. I used Panduro Oceanlack 
  • Liquitex Gloss Heavy Gel 
  • Noch 95360 Clump Foliage. (Optional) 

If you are doing a large number of hexes, using Citadel or Humbrol paints will be very expensive. I went to my local hobby/craft shop (Panduro) and purchased hobby paints much cheaper there. The ones I got had a satin finish but this doesn't matter as I intend to give them a coat of Matt Varnish. You will need the following colours:

  • Beige (Sand) 
  • White 
  • Leaf-green 
  • Grey 
  • Coffee Brown 

The Method

Step 1. Wash the Hexes.

Wash the Hexon II boards in warm soapy water to remove any release agents that may be present from the manufacturing process.

Step 2. Mark Out the River.

Turn the hexes upside down and mark out the course of the river. The hexes are structured in such a way that there is an "obvious" width and entry point in the middle of each hex side.

Step 3. Cut Out the River Entry Points.

With a saw or a sharp knife cut out the river entry points. Make sure that these are the same on all hex sides so that they match up when placed together.

Step 4. Modelling clay.

Fill the hexes with modelling clay from the river bank up to the edge of the hexes.

Step 5. Allow To Dry.

Allow to dry thoroughly. The clay may shrink slightly and/or crack when dry.

Step 6. Glue the River Banks in place.

Glue the river banks in place using white wood glue. It doesn't matter if some small cracks show as these will be covered in the next step.

Step 7. Optional - Add any terrain pieces.

Now add any additional terrain pieces. A bridge can be fixed in place (here a Stone Bridge from Irregular Miniature's 6mm Scenic Range). The bridge was raised so that it was near "ground level" and the middle pier was extended down to river level using plastic card and green stuff.

Step 8. Cover the River Banks with Sand.

Cover the river banks with white wood glue and then sprinkle them with a coating of fine sand. This should hide any cracks that appeared when the clay dried.

Step 9. Optional - Fill in any gaps at the hex edges.

I was a bit sloppy with the modelling clay and the sand - I could have been a bit more careful. There were small gaps at the edges of the river hexes which showed up when they were placed against a normal terrain hex. I filled these gaps using green stuff.

Step 10. Paint sand/beige colour.

Cover the whole river hex in a sand/beige base paint.

Step 11. Paint the River.

Mix a watery brownish colour using a mixture of two parts beige to one part coffee brown and a splash of water. Paint the edge of the river where the bank meets the hex base with a thin line of this mixture.

Allow to dry and then dry-brush over with beige to blend it in with the bank.

Mix equal quantities of leaf-green, medium grey and white and paint the river.

Step 12. Paint under the grass.

Paint the areas nearest the edges of the hex a base coat of Dulux Salisbury Stone in order that they will blend in with the surrounding terrain when flocked.

Step 13. Varnish.

Cover the whole hex in a coat of Matt Varnish.

Step 14. Water.

Create a water effect using Liquitex Gloss Heavy Gel. Apply quite thickly and work with a Games Workshop Sculpting Tool to give a running water effect. Allow to dry thoroughly before moving on to the next step, otherwise there is a risk that the flock with stick to the Gel.

Step 15. Flock.

Cover the areas nearest the edges of the hex in white wood glue and then sprinkle with Noch Spring Meadow flock.

Step 16. Optional - Add foliage.

Add some small clumps of Noch 95360 Clump Foliage to give the impression of bushes.

Job Done!

Six new straight sections...

Another picture of the river in use...

You can even use the same technique for coastal hexes instead of rivers. In this case you cut away not just the entry points but the whole of one side. You can choose a more Mediterranean blue instead of a river green colour.


  1. Thanks for the tutorial, I really must try this, though I was wondering, do you build up your whole table from singles or do you use the 6 hex combination tiles and if so, does your system mean that you also need some flocked singles to fill in gaps that the inserted river sections create?

    1. Yes I use as many 6-hex-combos as I can and then fill in the rest with singles.

  2. Hope you don’t mind, but I have made a comment, used one of your graphics and put a link to this page on one of my web pages? I will remove or amend at your direction. Norm.

    1. I don't mind at all, always good to share hobby ideas!

  3. Hello. I plan to make a table with Kallistra Hexxons and I also think that the rivers they propose do not look nice.
    I think your tuto is a great idea.
    When you place all your hexes (6-hex and individuals), do they move around and created earthquakes or can you make stay in place?
    Also, for roads, I plan to paint directly on the hexes.
    What solution did you use for roads?

    1. I started my Hexon collection by buying the box set of 21 6-hex boards and a bag of clips. (It was a good price compared to buying individual 6-hex boards). I then added some individual hexes. The clips work great keeping the hexes together. I cannot use the clips on my river hexes, but with 95% of the playing are clipped, there is really no chance for an "earthquake".

      Roads are tricky because they can be flat or raised or sunken and because they vary between different periods; so I am still using separate roads placed onto the playing area. I have however made special town and farm hexes using their un-flocked templates.

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