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Step 1 / 6

The light source
The source of light is the most important with any explosion.
It must be a rather strong light output and it must not emit too much heat.
I have tried different sources and in my opinion, a LED light is the only acceptable source. The reason is that it emits a concentrated light which might look like an explosion core and it is a low heat from the LED light, although the LED-base will emit some heat. It is therefore very important to give the light source as much ventilation as possible.
What I use is 3W LED which connects directly to the electrical outlet (220V)

The battery-operated LED lights which are used for decoration, gives too low light output and I would not recommend them.

I have also tried a halogen lamp as light source (see “Day of the Typhoon” diorama). I will not recommend this, because the halogen gives a very wide-spread light output and more important, it gets very hot.

Whatever light source you choose, it is very important with good ventilation, but most important of all: Use the light only on short intervals and never leave the lights on unattended.

When you have decided on a light source, be sure to fix it on the model in a secure way.

Step 2 / 6

The Chicken Wire

This will be a “birdcage” around the light source and you should make it the way you want the “explosion smoke” to be. Look at pictures and try to make it as realistic as possible.

I use chicken wire which is very easy to make into the form you want.
The wire is also good for fixing the cage to the model

Step 3 / 6

The cotton

On the cage you put the cotton as “explosion smoke”.

Be sure to leave so much free space inside the cage as possible for ventilation.
Use ordinary hairspray to fix the cotton to the cage.

In the “Bodenplatte” diorama I also used coloured cellophane inside the cage to create more colours to the explosion.
But beware, the cellophane is very flammable.

Step 4 / 6

Painting the cotton

When you have fixed the cotton covered birdcage over the light source, you should airbrush the cotton to look like smoke. Use yellow, red and black colours till you got the explosion like you want it.
Put the light on in between paintings and see how it looks.

Step 5 / 6

Fixing shrapnel to the explosion

An explosion will always blow debris and shrapnel, and on tanks, even the tower. These parts have to be fixed to the explosion smoke; Lighter elements can be glued directly to the cotton, heavier stuff, like a tank tower has to be glued to the wire

Step 6 / 6

The result

You can read all about the different explosions and building of my dioramas at my website www.dioramas-and-models.com

Good luck,
and remember, the most important thing for you to do is to use your imagination and creativity!

Bjorn Jacobsen

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