How to create waterfalls in SCARM

Here I will show you one easy method for creating of realistic looking waterfalls in your layout, designed in SCARM. If you are a beginner or if you are not familiar with the ways for creating of water surfaces in SCARM, read this first: Rivers And Lakes in SCARM.

Lets start with one sample track plan containing just one simple oval in TT scale (1/120). It has a hill and tunnel in the upper left corner and bridge in the opposite corner (click on the pictures to enlarge them):

Note that for the purpose of this tutorial, the track heights are set to 127mm (5″).

If you want to know more about how to work with the track heights, take a look on How to set heights and slopes topic in the program’s documentation.

I want to have a small river (creek) on the layout that springs from the hill, then passes over the tunnel, then through the plain and finally under the bridge. Because there are 3 levels of the water (on the top of the hill, on the plain in the center area and below the bridge), I will draw 3 polygons and will set their “Vertical position” properties according to the desired levels.

If you are not acquaint with the Figures interface in SCARM, take a look on How to work with figures topic in the program’s documentation.

The “Height” properties will be set to 1mm and the color for all polygons will be blue. Last but not least, “Snap terrain to bottom” property for the “river” polygons will be toggled – that will make the terrain in the 3D Viewer to look realistic and the river to “flow” like in the real world:

And here comes the interesting part. We need to “connect” the 3 water levels in order to create the waterfalls. So I will use the polygon figures in SCARM again. The “Vertical position” property for each waterfall-polygon will be set to the height of the lower level water-polygon and the “Height” property of the waterfall will be set to the difference between the lower and upper level of the water polygons. The color can be the same as of the water or little bit brighter. See the result below:

Note the saw-tooted side of the waterfall-polygon that is toward the lower level – that represents the jets of the falling water, when the layout is viewed in 3D mode:

Adding 1-2 more light-colored (or white) saw-tooted polygons with lower “Height” property may represent the effect of the foam when the falling water breaks into the bottom of the waterfall:

That’s the whole trick. The saw-toothed polygons are the key for creating of realistic looking waterfalls in SCARM. If you want to see that layout and to practice with it on your own PC, download it from the link below.

See also
Rivers and lakes in SCARM

Sample layout

7 thoughts on “How to create waterfalls in SCARM

  1. Is it possible to create a bridge (or tunnel) that is not the fixed length of one track section. I need to move a tunnel mouth and create a very short bridge. Mix of Peco 009 set track and flex track

  2. OK, I get that bit but I already have a tunnel on the layout plan which matches a set track section. How can I shorten this tunnel – move one end – without removing a piece of set track and replacing it with little pieces of flex track which seems to be your suggestion? Can I lay a short piece of flex track over an existing piece of set track and make it a bridge?
    Thanks again

  3. Well, you can use the Snip tool and cut the set track just for the purpose of the tunnel, but I do not recommend that as it will mess up the Parts list. About laying a flex track over already laid another track just to change the mode – it may work, but I am not sure how the terrain generator will cope with that in 3D viewing mode. And again, there will be one more flex piece in the Parts list.

  4. I don’t care about the parts list, at this point I’m trying to design the landscape. My tunnel is too long and I need to add a bridge as well. The overlay messed up the 3D image which is what I am trying to produce.Can you think of a way to achieve what I’m trying to do?

  5. If you don’t care about the parts list then the correct way is to use pieces of flexes for the bridges and tunnels. With flexes, you can have any length or radius and can make your tunnels and bridges exactly where you want. Do the following: Remove the sectional track(s) and lay flex-track at the same place. Then select the flex track, right click on the place where you want your tunnel to start and select “Split” from the context menu. Make the same with the other end of the tunnel. Finally, select the section produced in that way and change the mode to “tunnel”. Same is valid for the bridges.

  6. Thanks, that works fine, just a bit fiddly with the track heights of the individual pieces.

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