camping pt2 – campfire

Like the previous post (crafting tents) in my camping series, this little project is (a) experimental and (b) aimed to be beginner-friendly. For this tutorial / how to / what-ever-you-want-to-call-it … I wanted to build a campfire for different wargaming or TRPG purposes.

There are a lot of good tutorials on the inter-web, showing how to craft campfires with an integrated (and very en vogue) LED light effect. Here is an excellent example from Tabletop witchcraft.
However, I aimed to build an analog campfire, that could be “lit” and “extinguished” according to my gameplay and wargaming needs.
The objective was to craft a campfire and a removable “fire”.


Most of the materials used for this project are common and traditional staple in most crafting cupboards.

I used PVA glue as usual. A hot glue gun will be needed, when we craft our fire 🙂


I wanted to craft several campfires „factory belt“-style in one sitting.
Therefore I finished every step for each campfire before passing to the next. This will not only accelerate my production campfire-process, but also ensure that there is some uniformity on my wargaming table.

1. The bases for the campfires are several ovals of different sizes from some leftover cardboard.
I glued some stones around the edges, forming the fire-ring. (I had to look up the proper word for the campfire stone circle-thingy)
Don’t use too large stones and try adding some variation in order to give the fire-ring a more organic look. After all, in nature not all the stones have the same shape and size and our adventurers won’t carry nice and regular boulders with them 😉
I let the glue dry completely before moving on.

2. Afterwards I broke several leftover bits of balsa to size. Using an exacto knife, I cut into the edges in order to give them a less industrial look. Alternatively I could have used some broken twigs.

3. After adding a generous amount of glue into the fire-ring, I placed the firewood. It took me some time (and a lot of patience) to arrange them properly. The boy-scouts and experienced hiker among you may frown upon my campfire skills… sorry 🙂

4+5. Time to add some „ashes“ and “soot” to our fireplace.
Before the glue dried, I arbitrarily sprinkled some seashell fragments over the built. I paid extra attention not to cover it entirely. Instead of seashell, you may use coarse sand.
Finally, I covered everything with fine sand and let it dry properly before shaking the excess off. The fine sand should now have filled up all the holes and gaps between the stones, logs and sea-shell bits.

Put on some paint

Before applying some paint, make sure that the glue cured properly.

The pictures below describe the painting process better than words 🙂

As with most projects, I start by priming everything with a mix of mod podge and black (1). Afterwards all the stones and ashes are dry-brushed with grey (2).
The logs have been painted with two layers of brown. In order to differentiate them better, I did not dry-brush them. (3-4)
The black wash (5) will (hopefully) bring all the colours together and add some shading and weathering.
A final dry brush with light grey on the fire ring should differentiate these stones from the ashes of the fire. (6)

quick ‘n easy 🙂

The fire

Crafting the fire was terra incognita for me. I am familiar with the popular „hot glue“ fire effect, but never tried it myself. Although for a first attempt, I am rather satisfied.

1. Since I wanted the fire to be removable, I had to be ingenious.

I covered the campfire with non-adhesive baking paper. It is important to emphasize the shape and outline of the firewood.
Afterwards I shaped the fire with the hot glue gun according to the ancient art of tabletop terrain crafter on the internet.
Once the hot glue has cured, I peeled the „fire“ off the baking paper. It should fit (more or less) on the firewood.

2. I cheated painting the fire. I used Zealot Yellow, a darker yellow speedpaint from „the Army painter“. In a previous project, I noticed that it dries with an orange/red shade in the recesses. A detail, I wanted to exploit shamelessly.

After the speedpaint dried properly, I gently dry brushed some spikes in the flames with matt black. I tried not to overdo it. I hoped, it’d add another nuance to the colours of the fire. But in the end, it is barely visible.

3+4. The final product 🙂

happy camping,

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