Monday 4 March 2013

Smoke Markers for 6mm Wargaming

Some time ago I made a load of smoke and flame markers for my 15mm Flames of War tanks. I'd seen lots of ideas on-line for how to make smoke and flame columns for tanks that were destroyed and brewed up. My solution (and the tutorial I posted here) was an amalgam of lot of different ideas and yielded some solid durable models ideal for 15mm wargaming. The problem was that none of the markers I made were really suitable for my 6mm North Africa project. So I decided to make new smoke markers specifically made for 6mm scale vehicles, and this meant a different design approach was needed.  

The Smoke columns I made for my 15mm models were far too large for 6mm vehicles and would not balance on top of tanks in that scale. I considered using black polyester stuffing material, similar to the 'official' smoke and flame material sold by Battlefront, but it just didn't look as good as the markers I made first time around. What I needed was a way to hold my new mini smoke markers over the vehicles without obscuring the tank itself. And the solution came to me in one of those rare 'Eureka' moments (well rare for me!) while sitting at my desk in work.

I decided to use paper clips, bent into a suitable armature, to glue the smoke column onto while holding it over the vehicle. The bottom of the paper clip forms a foot that slips under the model base, holding it upright. I have used ordinary medium sized (3cm) metal paper clips in these examples but you could use whatever you have to hand. Here are the steps I used to create my mini smoke markers. 

1 - Twist and open the Large loop by 45°
2 - Squeeze flat and distortions in the metal with pliers
3 - Raise the large loop up by 45°
4 - Bend so that both sides of the 'small' loop are the same length.
This will be the base of the model.
5 - Twist the large loop up again by 45° & then straighten the loop  
6 - Once the large loop is straightened bend the tip round for safety 
7 - Stick clump foliage to the metal armature with superglue.
8 - Mix PVA (white) glue and water in 1:1 ratio. It should be the
consistency of single cream. Dunk the clump foliage armature
completely for 5 seconds and shake off excess liquid. 
9 -  Hang the models on a rack to dry. Drying time will
depend on air temperature and patience. I put mine on a shelf over
the boiler for 12-18 hours and they dried quite hard by then. 

The basic 'smoke marker' is now completed and the PVA has hardened to make a very durable and hard model. All that is needed now is to paint to your own preferred design. I just wanted oily smoke columns so I spray painted the models black (two coats to ensure all the green foliage was covered) and then dry brushed lightly with grey and a touch of white on the extremities. The last thing I did was to paint the wire base with Vallejo Dark Sand (847) to match the ground cover of my North Africa models. And here is the finished result...

Three 'brewed up' Panzers

I'm really happy with how these have turned out. Now I just need to make another thirty or forty! 


  1. Rats... they look superb...I might have to make some! More blummin' work!

  2. Well done Lee, great work and really effective ;)

  3. Looks great, I'll have to try this for my 15mm-Tanks!

  4. Damnation - they work better than mine! I will be copying this immediately.

  5. How neat. I've got to have a go of this.

  6. Just realised that I should have taken a picture showing the wire 'foot' of the smoke marker tucked under the base of the model. The wire looping up round the side of the tank is hardly noticeable once painted the right colour to match the gaming surface.

  7. What a brilliant idea Lee. They look great.

  8. Great idea and well executed!

  9. Very nice smoke markers, I'll need to revisit your 15mm marker post as well.

    1. Hey Lee, there is a typo in your link to your 15mm smoke post.

      remove the I at the end and yo're good to go.

    2. Thanks for spotting that...all corrected now!

    3. How bizarre... You posted another comment and I can see it when I check my comment stream but it's not showing here. No idea why. Well in response to your comment, I totally agree, the PVA works so much better than my original super-glue method. The key to using PVA as a hardener and sealer is just time, lots of it. Although as stated if you can find a warm place (like my boiler cupboard) that'll speed things up.

    4. Yeah sorry, I think that comment was over on the old post. It got me thinking about doing the PVA thing on some trees I have with clump foliage. They have a tendency to shed chunks when handled, especially by small children. I wonder if that might fix the problem.

  10. Well done Lee; I will definitely pinch that idea if I ever get back to 6mm...

  11. Very nice Lee, you are a clever boy!

  12. Those are very good mate, anything to save money but that's why Ray says you're rich!

  13. That is the way to go! Thanks for sharing.

  14. What a superb idea! Very effective too I have to say.

  15. Those work really well. I like how they're more smoky and less flame-y than many of the markers people make. Especially given that they'd be 50-foot tall flames...



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