Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Brief Interlude: Cannon smoke

Like most people, for years I have used puffs of cotton batting or stretched out cotton balls to represent ships firing their guns.  Not until I started taking pictures of my ships did I realize that this method has some side effects.  Said side effect is that quite a few of my ships have little tendrils of cotton or batting hung in the rigging.  For whatever reason, I had never noticed it before but it is VERY clear in photos.  So, I started looking around for something else to represent that ships were firing their guns.

Langton makes a set of "ship fired" markers, and they are very nice.  They come in a package with three "fall of shot" markers for about $3 US.  The fall of shot markers are also nice, but not really useful in any of my rules so I see no need to buy more of them.  The cheap side of me also has a problem paying about 1$ each for these:

Nice, but not that impressive by itself...

As I said though, they look very nice.  Maybe just not 1$ each nice.
I decided to see if I could make something that would look similar, and prevent the problem of stray hairs getting stuck to my ships.  I took a small piece of basing material, trimmed one of those chenille craft sticks (I still call them "pipe cleaners"), and glued it to the base.  I then took some little cotton tufts torn from a cotton ball, rolled each of them into a smaller ball and glued them to the base.  The result is below:
Trust me, it looks better in person.

Does it look as good as the metal one?  Oh goodness no.  However, when you put it up against a ship:
Not so bad now, huh?
Of course, that's just the unpainted prototype.  I lightly hit it with some gray spray paint, painted part of the pipe cleaner yellow and red to simulate gun flashes, and got this:
A little darker than what I wanted, but it's a prototype.

When placed alongside a painted ship, you get this:
I think that will work for me.
As a bonus, there's a sneak peek at the next ship up on the blog.
Does it look OK?  I think so.  Is it cheap? Definitely.  Is it a solution looking for a problem? Maybe.  The nice thing is, I can make a double height one for three-deckers that should really give a feel for how much throw weight they can put out.  Just add another row of cotton on top.

This doesn't mean the cotton batting is going completely away.  It will still be used for drifting gunsmoke.  This is just a way of trying something new, and a quickie project when you just don't feel like doing anything else, for whatever reason.  Cutting the base was probably the most time-consuming part of the project. 


  1. Looks good. I like how it does not hang off of the base.

  2. Grego,
    Thanks. I wanted something that was a little neater than the traditional wad o cotton that I've used for years. I don't know if I will be able to keep them on the base when we get to the small unrated ships.

  3. O M G-O-S-H. I think that looks very good. Just goes to show what some time and effort can produce. Very original.

  4. Thanks Stew. The more I look at them, the more they grow on me.