When coming up with our 2019 theme for Adepticon Bolt Action Doubles, we decided to run a horde of Inexperienced American soldiers supported by equally Inexperienced armor. There was an overall theme of North Africa as a sort of event-within-an-event, and we chose to represent those first American units getting involved in the war, when their eagerness combined with their inexperience caused tactical errors, such as the counterattack at Faïd Pass, which charged into a German ambush.

To represent the intense firepower that came against the US forces, we realized we needed to add something dynamic to the display board, and we found the answer we were looking for in a guide on Jay’s Wargaming Madness on how to make shell explosions and smoke plumes. The materials are pretty simple, and you could easily knock out a collection of these in an afternoon.

Materials needed (with links to some of what we used as examples):

  1. Round MDF Bases  (we used 32mm and 60mm) or some other form of base to build on
  2. Wooden Dowels
  3. Brass Rod/wire
  4. Clump Foliage
  5. Hot glue gun + glue sticks
  6. A drill and a pin vice for making dowel/rod sized holes in the base
  7. White and Black spraycan primer
  8. Clippers or cutting tools for the dowels/brass wire

The first step is setting up the armatures that you will be using to build up your smoke clouds. We cut a variety of heights on the dowels and the brass wire for the different clouds as well, as some of the smaller ones were going to be used on top of tank hulls and others would be bursting amidst the advancing troops. You want to drill holes in your bases for the dowel/wires to stick up, with the center pillar going straight up and then making a ring of smaller dowels or rods angled outwards around the center (like in the picture below). We used a dab of hot glue right where the dowel or rod entered the base to secure them in place as well.

After your armatures are set up, you will need to start adding in the smoke cloud. Grab your clump foliage and using the hot glue gun start sticking it onto the armatures and the base. I did find that in the Woodland Scenics bags you have a wide variety of clump… consistency I suppose. There are larger chunks which are great for the lower levels of the smoke clouds and building up on the dowels, and then there are much smaller bits which still work fairly well but are harder to consistently position. You may need to build out layers of the foliage until you get the shape you want for your smoke cloud. While working on this step, you’ll also find that you get strings of glue that drip and may end up draped over your foliage. You’ll want to wait until the glue has dried before you try to pull the strands off, otherwise you end up stretching it out and it makes more of a mess. Tweezers were very useful for taking strands off once everything was dry.

Once you’ve finished applying the clump foliage and everything has dried up, it’s time for paint! You’ll need your black primer first. I recommend using a cheaper primer for the black, as the foliage eats up the primer and you need a lot to get a healthy coat.  You’ll want to go over this a couple times to get a nice even layer. Do this from a bit of a distance as well, as some of the clump foliage may get knocked off by the spray if you are doing it from too close. Once you’ve finished your black coats, check to make sure there’s no green peering through, if there is coat over that section again.  Once the black is done and dry, you’ll want to pull out your white primer. From a distance (around 2.5 feet is what I did) spray the white paint onto your foliage. You want the paint to be misting onto it, adding a very light layer of white over the black. Spray it from a few different angles to make sure it’s landing across the entire marker, and once you’re satisfied with how it looks, you’re done!

All credit of course goes to Jay for creating these and providing an easy guide. They are super handy both for display and for gaming purposes (knocked out tanks and the like), and I’m sure we’ll end up using them in more projects down the road.