Tutorial – Smoke Columns

How many times have you played a tabletop game with vehicles, and when your vehicle is damaged or destroyed you either just remove it from the board (/boring!) or pop the turret off to indicate it’s destroyed?

Or maybe you’ve gone that extra step and thrown some stretched out cotton or polyfiber on top to make it look like it’s “smoking” wreckage?

Kick it up a notch with more realistic looking smoke columns, perfect for that destroyed tank! These smoke columns are easy to make and offer great looking results on your gaming table!

Materials Required :

·Clump Foliage

·16 or 18 gauge metal Wire

·Super glue

·Metal Washer and Nut

·Paints – Primer (black), yellow, red, light gray

·Diluted PVA Glue

Procedure :

Step 1 : Creating the armature

The first stage of creating a smoke column is to create the armature and base that the column will be built upon.

Step 1A : Take your metal washer and nut and glue them together with superglue.This will form the weighted base of your column.For 28mm (1:56) scale miniatures I recommend using a 25mm (1 inch) fender washer and a ¾ inch nut.(This size will fit nicely inside most miniature tanks turrets to make for more dramatic looking destroyed tanks on your game board).

Step 1B : While the washer and nut dry take a length of your wire, twice the length of how high you want your smoke column to be.If you want a 150mm (6 inch) tall column, cut 300mm (12 inches) of wire.

Step 1C : Fold the wire in half and begin to twist it together from the folding end making sure to leave a loop.This loop will go around the nut and glue to the base and forms the underlying armature for your smoke column to be built upon.Twist it together all the way to the end of the wire.

Step 1D : Slide the loop of your twisted wire over the nut and superglue it into place on the washer.

Step 1E : Once the glue has dried completely, bend and shape the wire into the approximate shape you want your final smoke column to take.

Step 2 : Adding the “smoke”

Coat small sections of your wire armature with superglue.Stick clump foliage to the wire, holding it in place for several seconds to ensure the glue has grabbed it and begun to dry.

Repeat this all the way from the bottom of your wire to the top.

Check the entire length of the column to make sure you didn’t leave any wire exposed.If there is any exposed metal wire simply add a bit more superglue and stick another piece of clump foliage in to cover it up.

Step 3 : Hardening

There are 2 ways that I’m aware of to effectively harden your smoke column enough to give it some durability and make it last longer.

The first is to coat the entire piece in diluted PVA glue by dabbing it on with a brush, thoroughly soaking the entire piece.Repeat this step 2-3 times allowing the glue to dry completely in between.

The second (which I’ve never tried) is to soak the entire piece in cheap super glue.This method will definitely give you a harder finish but, from what I understand, will create a reaction as the glue dries making quite a stink and creating a great deal of heat.If you use this method make sure you do it in a very well ventilated area and be careful!

Step 4 : Priming and Painting

Once the superglue is completely dry (I would leave it to dry overnight), spray or brush paint your entire piece in black primer making sure to get full coverage (you don’t want to see green foliage in your finished smoke!).

If you want, then you can be complete at this stage and still have some pretty nice looking smoke columns!OR you can continue and add some more interest to them and kick it up a notch;

Brush on red acrylic paint to the base of the smoke column.While this is still wet, blend in bits of yellow throughout and going slightly higher up the column.Don’t go too high though as this represents flames at the base of thecolumn.

Dry brush a light gray to the tops of sections of your columns to create more dimension and realism to your smoke (Smoke tends to be dark/black and gradually becomes lighter as it rises).Don’t over do it though.If you do, never fear; just re-prime the entire piece in black and start again!

And now you have great looking smoke columns that you can use for damaged vehicles or artillery strikes, burning buildings or wreckage!