Friday Quick Tip: Liquid Masking Tank WhiteWash

One of my favorite finishes for armor has to be the World War 2 style white wash. It's always had a special spot in my tread head heart since the first photos I'd seen looking through library books when I was a kid. It just holds so much story for the vehicle, the crew, and the environment. When I made my first steps into wargaming, I always knew I'd love to do a tank in that manner, and luckily it's a cinch to achieve the effect!

To get started, you'll want to paint your base color. This is your vehicle's typical summer pattern. You could start with any color, though usually you'll get a more visually pleasing look with a bit darker color choice. I went with VMC Brown Violet for my base, painted on using an airbrush.

The star of the show for today's tip is Liquid Mask. You can typically find this at any arts and crafts shop and it won't run you too deep in the pocket. My applicator is a simple piece of blister foam, with the edges ripped up a bit for a nice random effect.

Apply the mask as heavy or as light as you want, paying special attention to high wear spots like hatches, flat surfaces, lower quarters along the side armor. If you think the crew would be around an area often they would likely wear away the whitewash around it.

Here you can see the dried mask. This make goes on white and dries clear, but I've seen other mask that goes on different colors or stays a color. Be a bit delicate when in this stage, as you don't want to prematurely rub the mask off. It's rather easy to remove!

When it comes to liquid mask, I've found that it comes to painting over it for removal later, thinner is better. You don't need an airbrush to get thin paint for this step. So if you're without one, take your time, water your paints down, and do it in layers. If you have thick paint on top of the mask when it comes time for removal you're going to be pulling up big chunks of paint around the mask that you didn't mean to!

For my whitewash I've used VMC Off White painted on lightly using an airbrush.

When it comes to removing your masking you can use a few different tools. I have used a hard eraser before to good effect for this. For this tank, I've gone with a ball of sticky tack that worked like a dream. To start removal, just rub your finger along the surfaces to pull up the big spots. Remove as much of the mask as you can this way, and when you get to working in the small details break out the sticky tack. Be sure to loosen the tack up by ripping it apart a few times and mushing it back together. Don't push into the model too hard though, as you'll end up removing more than just the mask!

You can also use a light scratch with a fingernail to add some streaks of pulled up paint along the sides or rough up other areas a bit more. Again, just be careful not to push too hard or you'll end up pulling your base color up as well.

The effect is extremely easy to achieve and relatively quick. A bit of detail work as well as some additional weathering, and the tank will be ready to deal its death to those who oppose it!

There are a few other methods for whitewashing vehicles that I hope to cover someday in the future, but I'll leave it up to you, the readers, to figure out what works best for your vehicles!


  1. I'm about to redo my Tau mechanised army in a modern style with camo and battle damage, so this is fantastic.

    Thankyou very much

  2. Personally while I use liquid mask for chips etc;

    I use a salt mask and hairspray for whitewash as I'm able to make the paint much "thinner" and patchier as befits rubbed off whitewash.

    that said, you seem a practiced hand with the liquid mask and its much more effective than my attempts. but i still feel if youre after that "wearing off" look that a hairspray mask would help, particularly on edges.

    If you've never tried it, its simple, (easier if you have an airbrush) spray on a layer of klear to seal the paint, then hit the whole model with hirspray. this gives a thin layer of water soluble glue.

    paint as normal, then with a sponge and warm water rub at the panel edges and the hirspray will dossilve lifting the paint and making it very patchy and worn (depending how hard you go at it with the sponge)

    it's really a technique worth trying. :)

  3. Hi there. After reading lately several posts about weathering vehicles, I'd like to share with you my opinion on the different techniques I've used. Hope this is helpful for somebody.

    When it comes to chipping, we modellers have four main techniques available: liquid masking, salt masking, sponging and brush painting. Each of them provides a different result, being the last one specially suited for linear scratches, and the other three great for irregular scratches, both big and small ones.

    When deciding which of those three techniques is the most suited for the model we're painting, we should have in mind several considerations, being the most important ones time, accuracy and resources needed:

    - For liquid and salt masking we need to paint first the model in the "chipped" colour, then apply the mask, then paint the other colours, then remove the mask. From both methods, liquid masking is more accurate because the sponge/whatever tool you're using is more easily controlled than sprinkling salt on your model (you can understand what I mean).

    - For sponge chipping we need to paint the model and then apply the "chipped" colour with the sponge as the final stage. Control is similar to the liquid masking technique.

    What I'm aiming at: from the three methods sponge chipping is way faster and needs less resources (paint, laquer, liquid mask, salt, etc.) for the same result. Moverover, if you practice a bit and learn to play with the consistency and amount of paint in the sponge, you'll be able to obtain easily some effects that are hard to get with the other methods.

    Does this mean that liquid and salt masking are useless techniques? No! They excel in providing one effect impossible to obtain by simple sponge chipping: multicoloured chips. For example, you can paint your model randomly in several different rust colours (airbrushing+stippling is suggested), then apply the mask - paint the model - remove the mask and you get extremely real looking chips, which will have diferent colours and will look extremely natural if you've been able to mix the "rust base" in a natural way.

    Of course, the choice is always up to the hobbyist, but I thought that this could help some fellow modellers to choose the technique best suited for their paintjob.

    Just my two cents, and congrats for the blog btw :)