I recently published another post describing the “hairspray technique“, which is commonly used to create a “washable” white camouflage in scale models. During the WWII, this camo was done with a special type of white paint with little grip, so that it was easily removed with water during the thaw, causing effects of wear due to rain and rubbing of crew. However, we can create this type of camouflage following an easier approach with an specific acrylic product: Washable White Camo A.MIG 0024. We only need to apply a single layer and then activate it with water, skipping the application of hairspray or chipping fluid. Furthermore, this is an acrylic paint and therefore it is not toxic.
As an example, I am going to use a few Sherman tanks in 12mm (scale 1:144) by Victrix Games. You can find a complete painting guide here, and many more here.
Step 1 – Base coat
We begin painting the base color of the tank: olive green. I decided to apply a simple version of color modulation (more about this lightning style here) to create volumes. Although the most part of the tank will be covered with white paint, we can still appreciate the contrast between different shades of green in the uncovered areas. To paint the olive green I used the corresponding modulation set by AMMO, which includes four colours: OD Dark base (A.MIG-925), OD Base (A.MIG-926), OD Light base Base (A.MIG-927) and OD High lights (A.MIG-928).
If you prefer a quicker approach, you can apply a single shade of olive green. After all, the most part of the tank will be white. It is recommendable to use a slightly lighter olive green than the real one to compensate the very small size of the tank (smaller objects reflect less light, and therefore they are perceived darker). For instance, OD Light base Base (A.MIG-927).
Now is the moment to apply decals (you have a tutorial here). Then we seal the work with two thin layers of satin varnish. This will protect the base color and decals in the following steps.
Step 2 – Washable White Camouflage
We apply a very thin layer of Washable White Camo (A.MIG-024) with the airbrush. We do not need to cover evenly the whole vehicle. It is also possible to thin down a little bit the washable paint with water or acrylic thinner. But we must keep in mind that the thinned washable paint is easily activated later on (this means that we will remove bigger chunks of white paint).
Once the white paint is dry, we start activating it by applying a bit of water using a brush. We do not cover the entire tank with water, but instead we work one small area at a time. By doing this we will have more control on the result.
With a brush moistened with water we gently rub the surface to remove part of the white paint. The more we rub, the more white paint is removed. Here I used a soft round brush. But we can use different types of brushes and tools, such as hard bristles brushes or even a toothpick to remove more paint and create scratches. However, remember that we do not need to press hard! We must do it gently or we can accidentally remove the varnish and green paint as well. If you cannot remove enough white paint, apply more water and repeat the rubbing.
Another factor to keep in mind is the time between the application of the washable paint and its activation with water. The longer we let the paint to sit, the more difficult will be to activate the washable paint. This is important, because if we wait a little bit longer we will create “chipping effects” of smaller size, which in fact are more suitable for this tiny scale. For bigger scales, we could start the activation immediately.
If you have never used this type of product it is advisable to do a few tests in a piece of plastic or old tank to get familiar with the drying time and activation of the product. You can also test different tools to remove the paint. These experiments will serve to determine the optimal conditions for your particular project.
We should work each panel of the tank differently, avoiding similar patterns. The same applies to each tank of the platoon. By doing this the result will look more natural. We should aim to create some areas more worn out than others to create contrast and points of interest. Following historical references we can see how some tank crew cleaned the white paint on top of national and divisional marks. We can do it as well.
Step 3 – Mapping
The resulting washable white camo is ready and we could proceed with the weathering effects (at least, we should apply a dark pin-wash to stand out the recesses). However, we can apply an additional step to enrich the effect. This step is known as “mapping” because it consists on painting small spots similar to countries or continents, which represent chunks of white paint that did not fall off.
We apply a bit of acrylic white paint with a thin brush here and there creating small spots (like painting countries or continents) . The idea is to recover the white camo in those areas where we removed too much washable white paint.
Furthermore, we can also apply a little bit of white in some of the washable white spots to create a 3D effect (similar to what we do when creating chipping effects with a light and dark color). Note that this white paint is more intense than the washable white because the latter was applied as a thin layer. For instance, we can paint small dots or a thin line on the upper part of some washable white spots. We do not need to do it on all of them.
Additionally, we can create streaking effects. First, we apply a little bit of white oil on the upper parts of the panel. We use an oil paint because it is easy to blend and create subtle streaking effects, which will nicely represent the paint washed off by water.
Next, we use a flat brush moistened with white spirit or turpentine to drag the white oil by applying vertical stokes from the top to the bottom. If we dislike the resulting effect we can easily remove it with more white spirit, and then we repeat the same process.
Once more, we aim to create variation avoiding similar patterns within the same tank and between tanks of the same platoon. For example, we can create more intense streaking effects on one side of a tank, leaving the other one cleaner.
Step 4 – Weathering effects
We apply a new layer of satin varnish to protect the white camouflage, and then we can start with the weathering effects. You can find the rest of the painting guide here.
In this tutorial we have seen how to create a washable white camo using an specific product, Washable White Camo (A.MIG-024). Similarly, we can apply Washable Sand (A.MIG-0106) over a layer of Panzer grey to simulate the typical worn paint observed in Deutche Afrika Korps vehicles. Or Washable Mud (A.MIG-0108) to create mud effects. You can find the whole collection of washable paints here.