Warning: the Surgeon General has determined that smoking can be hazardous to your health unless you are...
Isabella Rosselini or...
a 54mm twelve-pounder light gun-howitzer
A couple of years ago I had some success at using cotton balls to replicate gunsmoke in a 54mm toy soldier narrative of the Sunken Road fight at Antietam (which you can view here). I thought I'd try it again for the artillery on my table-top setup.
The materials list is very basic: gun, cotton ball, paper clips, glue.
Using my drill press (safety glasses, please) I bored out the barrel on this beautiful 54mm Britains Napoleon, Man, these are nice guns; you can find them on ebay for about 35 bucks, the detail is absolutely outstanding.
I straightened out two paper clips, I used red and yellow in case they were visible through the cotton I wanted them to approximate flame.
I doubled over the red clip and twisted them together with a needlenose pliers.
I applied some Elmers and ...
worked the paperclip through the cotton ball, shaping it to the desired effect. Note the thickness of the paper clip "stem"; this will make for a nice snug fit in the barrel.
Plugged into the barrel a convincing battlefield effect is achieved. Because of the paper clip armature the smoke wont "droop", which could look a little dopey.
If you do a lot of photography of your scenarios (Scott you undoubtedly are hip to this) flame can be added by applying a red Sharpie to a Post-it note (3M and AP I'm open to a product-placement deal), cut out the shape and lay it into the cotton ball.
Using the "retouch" paintbrush in i-photo I smeared around the colors...
and came up with this pleasing effect.
Of course like Marvin and Tammi say...
"Ain't nothing like the real thing, baby"