Franks guide to winter whitewash

Today we have a guide to winterising German vehicles with Frank.  You will also know his work under the Panzer Schule name on Facebook and forums.

Check out his channel over on You Tube.


Winterising vehicles is a lot of fun. There are many techniques and products available to help us achieve great looking results. There is the hairspray technique, chipping fluids and thinned enamels to name but a few. When a friend asked me to paint some German armour in a faded whitewash, I initially thought I would use enamels to create the faded streaks. I have enjoyed using enamels for weathering so that seemed like the obvious choice. Then I picked up a bottle of Vallejo Retarder Medium and I had an idea to try something different. I decided it was time for another bravery test and attempt the streaking with acrylics.

Using the Retarder Medium, I was able to achieve varying degrees of fading and streaking over several platoons of tanks, armoured cars and halftracks. It was a lot of fun and I found I had complete control over the finished look. Many painters have asked me about the technique I used. I have put together a step by step tutorial that I hope will help anyone who would like to replicate the look.

I selected two German halftracks as subjects. In keeping with a Bulge theme, I base coated them in a hard edge, three tone camo. As the whitewash is faded, an attractive camo scheme will really add to the finished look. I planned to place the completed vehicles on objectives and did not want the flame projectors manned on the 251/16. I scratch built two projectors from Sherman 75mm barrels and schurzen brackets.



To create the faded base for the whitewash, I worked small areas at a time. I began with the sloped side panels. I painted an even coat of Retarder Medium over the entire panel. Retarder Medium is a gel and you should not thin it during use. The surface should be slick with a thin coat of medium.

I then painted a 3mm band of Vallejo White across the top of the panel. With an old, medium sized brush, I quickly drew the white paint down in vertical lines. You should remember to finish with some upward strokes to preserve a thicker coat near the top. You can reverse this if you want to fade from the bottom up.


Continue this process across the other areas as required. For areas with multiple panels it looks good to give each panel separate attention as you can see on the engine cover.

The Retarder Medium will allow you time to work the paint into the streaks you are looking for. You could not easily achieve this with acrylics that had been thinned with water. You can see that I have varied the streaking across the surfaces to avoid uniformity.

Remember to clean your brush between each area or panel so you are not adding excess medium or paint to the surface.


Once your first coat is completed, you will have to let it dry. I have found the drying time to vary but patience is required. If the surface looks glossy, you need to leave it.

Once dry, repeat the entire process. Less is more at this stage as we are creating the base coat only.

Once the second coat is dry, we are ready for the pin wash. If I intended to have a fairly intact whitewash, I would pin wash after the Step Two. For these halftracks, however, we can proceed. I always add a layer of gloss varnish to ensure there is a controlled flow of the enamel pin wash. I also add the decals at this stage. Adding the decals before the faded coat could be problematic as you may cover them too much or leave too large a clear area around them.




It is now time to thicken the whitewash to achieve the desired results.

Using the same, old brush, you need to use all your blending and dry brushing skills. You will need to have just the right amount of water in your brush. The paint should go on a little bit wet but not so much so as it pools. Working small areas, apply the paint then draw it down without delay. This will create the opaque areas you need. The edges of these areas will appear soft with the faded undercoat you have applied.

Your brush will be dryer now. Get a little more paint on it and draw it carefully down a different area of the panel. The dryer brush will apply a more opaque layer. You can mix these two types of stroke to create a varied look. You should take care to preserve the pin wash during this stage.

Finally, you need to softly thicken some areas. For this you need a wet brush. Apply the paint wet enough so it pools on the surface but does not run. Apply it with tiny swirls of the brush. Leave it for a few seconds then draw it down. Again, work in small areas.


You can repeat the steps within Stage Two as often as you need to achieve the level of opacity required. If you want an intact whitewash, be bolder with the amounts of paint you apply. Apply too many layers and the surface will start to look lumpy.

I have painted everything from the very streaky finish you can see on the halftracks here, to almost complete whitewash that is hinting at the camo underneath. You can see pictures of these on my Facebook page.


It is now time to paint the detail, starting with the running gear. You will note I have not used any fading on the wheels. I simply stippled them with white as I was intending to apply pigments. When applying pigments, I recommend you mix them with water on a palette to keep control over what you are applying. You will struggle to remove excess pigment or powder that has landed on the wrong area, should you scatter them on dry. You can then apply the pigments with your brush. You can add a little to the lower hull, but keep it to a minimum. Once dry, a coat of matt varnish will seal the pigments in place.

finished-pic-1 finished-pic-2 finished-pic-3

Then there are crew, weaponry stowage and other details. I find bright features help focus the eye and bring a vehicle to life. The objectives tell the story of the rush through the steep roads of the Ardennes. They can be placed togPanzer Schuleether for display or used separately during the games.



I hope this was informative and has given you some ideas of your own. This is not a quick technique; but it is one that you could be achieving after a just a little practice. Maybe you will want to try your own bravery test!


Frank – Panzer Schule

3 thoughts on “Franks guide to winter whitewash

    1. Hello Steve, sadly getting to events ‘down south’ isn’t practical for me just now. Only ever managed one and that was five years ago!

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