Worlds from Waste - 3D Smoke Clouds

Wednesday, 3 July 2013 14:56:00 Europe/London


 Hi, my name is EViL ED and I am going attempt to bring you my philosophy of the perfect Heroclix world. This regular column will deal with all the things you need to know about achieving the atmosphere of a great game. Over the coming months I will show you modding, customisation and 3d map building that is achievable by everyone and on a small budget. It is important to me to make the most of things we all already have around us thus freeing up all that spare cash for the important things like Heroclix.

 Today’s lesson is:

 Custom 3D Smoke Clouds

If you are like me and you like things to look right then here are the tools needed for this project

Image 1
1x Sharp knife (either a scalpel or Stanley, Please always be careful with these)

1x Pack of oven bake clay (I use Sculpey which is polymer clay that is really simple to use and easily found on the net and good art stores. However there are other brands like Fimo which I am sure will do just as good a job.)

1x Sheet of mount board A1 size (This is available from ALL art shops and Picture framers. It is a Heavy card used to mount pictures)

1x Sheet of heavy card (or alternatively you could use smoke cloud tokens)

1x Straight edge/ ruler

1x Paint brush

1x Black, white and blue acrylic paint

Note: Before we start I would like to add that the rules for smoke cloud changed during the writing of this article so I have only made 4 tokens instead of the amazingly new 6.

To start this project we first need to cut out our tokens or hunt out 4 smoke/barrier tokens. For my smoke clouds I use a heavy card usually used for mounting pictures as I have a lot of it floating around my workshop. You need to cut these out 3.5 cm square. Next it is important to pre-heat your oven to the recommended temperature as designated on your clay instructions. Lay your four tokens out and knead the clay until it soft and pliable. Starting from the outside edge of each square you need to roll out small balls of clay in the palm of your hand and place them in the corner of the card. You then need to smudge the inside part of the ball in towards the centre of the square. This process is repeated around the square on all outside edges. Once you have completed this for each square do these techniques again however place the balls in the smudged area so as to slowly fill the squares.

Image 2

After repeating this on the inner layers you can make a few small balls that will attach to the empty centre points of each square. Once this complete on each square we are ready to build up the layers slightly to create a flat surface for the Heroclix to sit. This is achieved by rolling more balls of different sizes to fill the gaps in the clay and slightly raise it up like a platform. Upon completion we are ready to cook.
Image 3

Place your squares on a baking tray and pop them into the oven. Your clay instructions should give you an estimated time, which should not be too long around 15-20mins. Once they have baked remove them and allow to cool.
Once they have cooled you need to undercoat them and I just use black acrylic paint for this (which can be sprayed on or painted). Next you need something to mix some paint on, something with a glossy or shiny surface works best as the paint will stay wet longer and will not soak in. For the paint mix black and white into various shades of grey from reasonably dark to very light. I personally like to add the smallest amount of blue to my greys just to take the dull edge off of the colour but this is not mandatory. Once you have your colours mixed and are happy with them, working with the darkest first give each square a rough coat.

It is important to leave a few minutes between each colour application so they can dry a little. With the next shade down you need to dip the brush and then remove most of the paint on a tissue so there is very little remaining and then gently brush straight over the bumps not worrying about getting paint on all of it. This technique is known as dry brushing and as you repeat this process you will get better at it. Artists use this to try and show depth to model, as you get lighter in colour start to add less and less colour until you are very light and then only small highlights are needed on each bubble of smoke. Once you have completed all your paint effects I highly recommend a coat of matt lacquer just to hold your colour and the item will inevitably last a lot longer (this process is completely optional and will not take away from the overall look of the finished smoke clouds).

Image 4

You are now all set to make your Heroclix world a better place!
Image 5

I have also shown in the picture below another set of smoke clouds I made which wrap around the figure more, these are more complicated but basically use the same technique except you need to make them slightly larger and build the clay balls up around a unwanted cookie based Heroclix figure. I personally think these smoke clouds look slightly nicer than the basic ones however they do have some large drawbacks including being slightly too large for the squares on the map and not working at all with other size Heroclix bases.
Image 6

Well, I hope you all enjoyed this issue of WFW and will join me next time when I take on the second part of my 3d map, this time I will be attempting the terrain and details of the blue side of the moon.
If you wish for me to see or showcase any of your attempts at the perfect Heroclix world then drop me a line with pictures at and I will be sure to give mention in my up coming articles.

EViL ED has been collecting and playing Heroclix since the time when energy explosion and enhancement were a brutal mix and carried characters could be dropped from the skies to destroy the enemy all in one turn. He is also one half of the geek art team EVIL ROBOT DESIGNS.

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Daniel Taylor

posted on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 19:09:57 Europe/London
Transparent mouldable plastic is hard to find, VIncente, but for a good alternative look around for a place selling Polymorph. It's a touch expensive, and white, but easily colourable, easily shaped and solid once fixed. A-grade polymorph is very expensive, but that stuff survives temperatures around 100C once set - the cheaper mass-produced stuff will hold its shape up to about 60C, which is still more than enough for modelling use!

(If your heroclix table is over 60 degrees C you have bigger problems anyway.)


posted on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 20:34:47 Europe/London
Thanks... I haven't used any clear plastic but im sure there is some about I will have a look and see what I can come up with! I will be making solid ice barriers in a future article.

Vicente De los Santos

posted on Wednesday, 3 July 2013 20:19:08 Europe/London
Great mod! Do you know any transparent plastic to make custom barriers or other special markers?

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