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I took a short break from painting to do a little modeling, specifically to put together enough destroyed vehicles markers for my Mid-War Soviet list. I am going to play with 14 or 15 vehicles, so that will be the minimum number of markers I want to assemble.

First up, raw materials. I watched a couple of YouTube videos on the topic and also visited a blog or two to get ideas. Once I had a vision of how I wanted to create the markers, I took a quick trip to the local Family Dollar for supplies – this project will cost less than 10 bucks, not including tools.

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I am using the felt pads for the base, and cotton balls to make the smoke. The package of pads has both 1” and 3/8” sizes which will allow me to make both large “tank sized” markers and smaller “jeep/car” sized markers. Purchase price was $1.55 for the pads, $1.00 for the bag of cotton balls. I bought three packages of pads and two bags of cotton balls to ensure I had enough materials to screw up a batch and still be able to finish the project. Total cost was about $7.00 with sales tax.

For armatures, I used a length of “real” armature wire that I had lying around for the first few, and then switched to large paper clips (2” size) for the rest. If I had to buy the materials, I would have used the paper clips for all of them. They work great and they are essentially free. The only drawback is that they are very stiff and require tools to bend into shape. For my “large – tank” size I cut a piece of wire 2.5” long. For “small – jeep/car” size I go 1.25”. Note on armature wires – I have seen other tutorials mention a preference for very soft wire. I don’t want something that can be easily bent/crushed so I prefer thicker/stiffer wires. This way, I don’t have to soak the “smoke” in glue to harden it and provide structure. If I was ok with markers hard enough to damage the paint on my models I wouldn’t bother making them at all, I would just remove/stack  the turrets. This method doesn’t produce rock-like smoke markers, they are quite soft and very lightweight – no damage!

Tools used – cutters, long nosed, and regular pliers. Paper clips.

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Each 2” paper clip produces 2 2.5” and 1 1.25” sections of armature. Next step, I bend the end of the wire into a small loop using the long nose pliers, and then create a vertical bend and an “S” shape using both pliers together. Here is a step by step with the final result pressed in place on a felt pad – the felt pads have an adhesive backing that holds everything in place prior to hot-gluing. I show both a large an a small armature below, the process is essentially the same for each size.

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To be continued:

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