Of course, a solid black creek bottom isn't very realistic, because that would represent a very deep creek. Since this is near the beginning of the creek, it can't be too deep. So, I painted several colors on top of the black. I started with a very dark green across most of the middle of the creek. Along the edges I painted various earth-tones, such as raw umber, raw sienna, etc. Generally the flow of a creek will leave more sediment near the edge where the flow isn't strong. I tried to mimic that by painting those parts wider. When all the painting was done, it still didn't really look like a creek. It needed rocks, but I didn't think the ones I had used in the scenery above were appropriate for the creek. A few days later I was going through one of my drawers when I discovered a bag of small decorating rocks I had bought at the Michael's craft store. They come in a mix of colors that seemed appropriate for a creek or river. I placed those along the edges of my creek. I had also started to do some work in our backyard and found a couple of pebbles. I grabbed those that somewhat matched the smaller rocks and placed a handful of them along the creek. You can see one of them in the middle of the creek in the next photo.
Afterwards, I sprayed all the rocks down with a 50/50 mixture of white glue and water. The next day all the rocks were firmly planted and I was left with this white residue on the painted surface. I left it there thinking that it might help make the water look more convincing (the residue eventually disappeared, though).
To give the creek a lived-in look, I decided to also add some debris, weeds, and dead branches here and there. By the recently-added 3-inch track extension bridge I glued a dead branch stuck on the trestle's poles, a small barrel, another twig, and some debris. The debris is hard to see in the photo (directly above the twig on the left), but it was some left-over clippings from removing some of the parts from a white metal sprue. I didn't paint them; just dropped them in place. All parts were glued down with a drop of superglue.
Reflecting brightly in the camera's flash, a piece of "glass" from an N-scale structure was used to represent a piece of broken glass that somehow wound up near the bridge's abutment. I used a pair of wire cutters to snap off small pieces in the corner. The pieces were glued right next to the glass. The cutter created a realistic broken effect.
The center pile of rocks in the middle of the creek has a washed up twig and a small crate.
The other bridge's abutment has some more washed up debris, such as an old tire and a couple of pallets. In the upper left corner of the photo you can see another tire that got stuck under the bridge.
In addition to man-made debris, there are also some weeds and a dead tree along the creek's edge. You can spend days adding more details such as these. However, my objective with these details was to only place those that would appear submerged or poking out of the water. More creek edge details will be added in the future when the area will be covered in bushes and trees.
Finally, it was time for the creek to receive some water. I bought a 32oz-kit of Envirotex Lite at Hobby Lobby. It was just enough for this creek. One evening I mixed up about 8oz of the material and made a thin layer. The instructions with the kit call this the sealing layer. It allows for air bubbles to come out of the material upon which the Envirotex is poured. The final layer took about 16 ounces and is drying as I am typing this. The photos below are of the final layer right after I poured it. I have used Envirotex quite a bit, so I'm comfortable working with it. The key is to have a small butane torch handy to heat up the air bubbles that want to escape but can't quite yet. I bought a torch from MicroMark years ago.
The other angle.
Close-up photo of the pebbles glued to the center of the creek.
I just had to include this photo. it so clearly shows the trestle bridge extension floating above the water.
I also poured some left over Envirotex on the layout's scenery to leave the impression of puddles left over from the rain from last night.
Flat water is fine for small puddles, but not for a creek. I used "Mod Podge", Gloss, to create some subtle waves. The material goes on white like white glue, but after about 30 minutes it starts to become transparent. I used a flat, stiff-bristle brush to apply the material and pushed it up to create the ripples.
In the Summer 2010 edition of The Keystone Modeler, author Frederick Monsimer discussed mile markers along the PRR line. This inspired me to build one for my small layout. I started off with a 1/8" styrene angle piece. The mile markers are 9" wide on the top, so I figured a scale 8" is close enough.
I then cut and glued several small squares of styrene together on the inside top of the angle. I shaped it roughly to match the odd-angled top of the pole. Next, I painted it with Floquil's "Aged Concrete". After the paint dried I applied some weathering powders to make the pole look dirty and old. The last step was to apply some number decals to represent the milepost number. The final result is shown in the next photo.
I mixed up some 5-minute epoxy and glued the four-and-a-half foot tall post to the ground in a position where it will be visible and pointing the way to the next town.