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Painting British DPM camoflague - SBS

Discussion in 'Painting Techniques' started by tonydawe, Nov 10, 2009.

  1. tonydawe A Fixture

    Hi guys,

    I thought I'd post a series of shots illustrating how I paint the 1980's British DPM camoflague uniform on my latest figure; a 120mm resin figure of a British Royal Marine Commado in the Falklands, produced by The Imperial Gallery.

    Before I start on the figure, some basic points about the DPM pattern and how you can break it down into its separate components to make the task of replicating it in scale easier. It's important to understand that painting camoflague in any scale isn't about perfectly replicating every little detail, swirl and dot, but to replicate the "feel" of the pattern.

    Firstly, the standard British DPM is made up of four basic colours; sandy beige/ khaki, leaf green, mid to dark brown and black. These colours are layered one on top of the other to create the pattern, with the sandy beige/ khaki base colour and the green and brown colours each covering roughly equal amounts of surface area on the uniform. For the purposes of this SBS, I will refer to the Vallejo acrylic colour range.

    In this first instalment, I'll describe the application of the base coat on the primed figure, and how this builds a good platform for the subsequent steps.

    The base coat colour is sandy beige/ khaki colour, which can vary from a dark khaki to a faded beige colour, depending on the age of the uniform and the extent of wear and tear. I've chosen to go with a mid range base coat colour, by mixing equal parts of Pale Sand (837) and Khaki (988).

    Although the layered nature of the disruptive camoflague pattern will obscure much of the base coat detail later on, it's logical and easier to shade and highlight the base coat now, rather than try to do it after the other colours have been applied.

    Picture 1 shows the basic template of the British DPM pattern, with its distinctive green and brown "painted" swirls and black "lightning" pattern.

    Pictures 2 & 3 show the base coat, an equal mix of Pale Sand and Khaki applied in three or four coats.

    Pictures 4 & 5 show the first series of shadow tones applied, by adding a little bit more Khaki to my base colour mix with each successive coat. As I apply each coat, I add a few more drops of distilled water to the paint mix to thin it out and prevent the shadow colours from becoming too intense.

    Pictures 6 & 7 show the mid shadow tones, which are now almost pure Khaki with just a drop of Pale Sand added. This is a very thin mixture applied in a series of controlled washes.

    Pictures 8 & 9 show the deep shadow mix which is pure Khaki with a few drops of transparent Sepia Shade (73200) added. This mix is very dilute, a ratio of 1 drop of paint to 10 drops of distilled water,and is applied only in areas where there is no light hitting the figure (such as under the arms, under the pockets and under the hem of the jacket.)

    Pictures 10 & 11 show the application of the first highlights, which consist of three parts Pale Sand to one part Khaki, and diluted to a ratio of 5 parts water to one part paint.

    Picture 12 & 13 show the second highlights which are almost pure Pale Sand, and are intended to just catch those parts of the uniform that will catch full, direct light, or would be subject to the most amount of wear and tear.

    My next step will be adding the leaf green swirls over the base coat,and adding shadows and highlights to the green colours.:D

    Attached Files:

    Grod, Nap, Jamie Stokes and 1 other person like this.
  2. housecarl A Fixture

    Good stuff Tony, now paint quicker.
  3. John Bowery A Fixture

  4. Johan Well-Known Member

    Interesting ! I'm going to follow this sbs article.
  5. gothicgeek A Fixture

    Following with interest


  6. mil-mart A Fixture

    Tony, great SBS, so much detail and info , many thanks and I will keep following with interest.

    Cheers Ken
  7. tonydawe A Fixture

    Step 2. Adding the green swirls to DPM

    Now that the base coat has been shadowed and highlighted and allowed to dry overnight, I apply the green swirls to the uniform.

    I chose to paint the green base colour by mixing three parts Intermediate Green (891) with one part Pale Sand (837). My intention is to create a faded leaf green colour, rather than a bright vibrant green, which would be more typical of a uniform that had been worn in the field for some time,and in harsh terrain.

    The green swirl pattern is applied rather haphazardly, but with the intention of covering no more than 30% of the total surface area of the uniform, leaving enough room for the brown colour to overlap the green, and still allow the base colour to show through.

    It is fortunate for the figure painter that the shapes of the green and brown colours on the DPM pattern actually resemble paint brush strokes. These swirls have distinctive "tails" that are easy to replicate by flicking your brush across the surface following the curve of the swirl.

    Once the basic green swirl pattern was applied, I then set about shading the green colours.

    To create the shadow mix I added 2 parts of Russian Green (894) to my Intermediate Green colour, and thinned the paint to a dilution ratio of 1 part paint to 7 parts water. Being careful to stay within the shape of the green swirl patterns I had already laid in, I then applied two shadow coats carefully over the uniform. I added a small amount of Black to my second shadow mix and only applied it to the darkest areas.

    For highlights, I added 1 part Pale Sand and 1 part Yellow Green (881) to 2 parts Intermediate Green, thinned to a ratio of 1 part paint to 5 parts water. Once again, I applied two coats of highlight colour to ensure the highlights had some depth and contrast.

    Pictures 1 & 2 show the basic green swirl pattern applied over the uniform.

    Pictures 3 & 4 show the shadow mix added.

    Pictures 5 & 6 show the highlights added.

    The next step will be to add the Brown swirls, and shade and highlight them in the same process I've shown here.:D

    Attached Files:

  8. tonydawe A Fixture

    Step 3. Adding the brown swirls

    The brown swirls on the DPM pattern overlap the green swirls underneath, creating a layered effect. Just like the green swirls, the brown swirls have a "brush stroke" appearence.

    To paint the brown swirls I mixed three parts Burnt Umber (70941) and added a drop of Pale Sand (837), and thinned to a ratio of 1 part paint to three parts water.

    The shadows were added by mixing two parts Lavado Black Shade (73201) to three parts Burnt Umber and diluted to a ratio of 7 parts water to one part paint.

    Highlights were created by mixing 1 part Burnt Umber to 1 part Pale Sand and 1 part Red Leather (70818).

    Pictures 1 & 2 show the basic brown swirl pattern applied.

    Pictures 3 & 4 show the shadows and highlights on the brown swirls.

    As you can see, the DPM pattern is now coming together. The base coat, green swirls and brown swirls each now make up roughly equal parts of the overall surface area.

    The final step is to add the black "lightning bolt" stripes.

    Attached Files:

  9. housecarl A Fixture

    Looking good Tony, he's disappearing already.
  10. Jim Patrick Active Member

    I was thinking the same thing! Good thing he's using a blue background! :D The camo patteren looks really good Tony! As with the other, I will also be following this one as well. Keep up the good work.

    Jim Patrick
  11. tonydawe A Fixture

    Step 4. Adding the black "lightning" - final

    The final step in painting the British DPM pattern is to add the distinctive black "Lightning" marks. These are a series of smaller randon streaks and splotches that overlay the green and brown swirls, and tie the pattern together.

    The effect I've been trying to achieve is one of balance of colours, while creating a genuinely "disruptive" pattern. Hopefully I've achieved both those goals. As I said at the start, the objective when painting camoflague is to recreate the "feel" of the pattern, rather than try to make an identical replica in every minute detail. In this respect, I feel I've been reasonably successful.

    Pictures 1 & 2 show the basic black patterns painted on. I used Vallejo Black (70950) and mixed a little bit of Pale Sand in, to make it a very dark grey, rather than pure black. This mix was diluted to a ratio of one part paint to five parts water and applied with a 000 brush.

    Rather than highlight and shade the black patterns separately, I decided to integrate all the colours in the DPM pattern together by applying a wash of sepia over the entire uniform. You will probably also note that I have mixed a little bit of Pale Sand into every layer of colour in the DPM pattern. The idea here is to have some consistency to the intensity of each colour, so that they all appear equally faded. I wanted to avoid any one colour dominating the others.

    The final photos show the finished DPM pattern, but without any weathering effects.

    I'll continue to show WIP pics of this figure on a new thread on my Vbench, but I hope this SBS has been helpful to any of you who wanted to paint British DPM but didn't know how or simply lacked the confidence to try.

    Hopefully by breaking this rather visually complex pattern down into its component parts I've been able to demonstrate that its really not that complex, and all you need is patience and a methodical approach

    Thanks to everyone who posted comments on this thread. I appreciate your support very much.:D:D:D

    Attached Files:

    jerry likes this.
  12. FigureLover A Fixture

    Hi Ya Tony,
    Nice job, you have captured the lok of the DPM beautifully. Love to see this one in the flesh.
  13. housecarl A Fixture

    Glad I found this again Tony.
  14. winston Active Member

    Tony, great work on this camo, it'snt easy to make and your is very good.
  15. Gellso A Fixture

    Great stuff

    Very nice mate.
  16. Paul Kernan A Fixture


    Just wondering, mate. Are you complimenting, advising or merely criticizing Tony? I'm sure the intent of your post is one of assistance. Unfortunately, it is coming across as merely patronizing. Instead, maybe you can provide us with a 'correct' SBS since you have done so much research on this topic.

    Tony, BTW, I greatly appreciate the time and effort you have taken on this project.

    My two cents, FWIW
  17. tonydawe A Fixture

    With respect Harry, who the hell are you to suggest that people should ignore my advice about getting the "feel" of British DPM camoflague patterns.

    What an arrogant and patronizing comment to make. I take offence at your comments and the way you have expressed them!

    I set out to share with fellow Planeteers MY method for painting British DPM, because I know many beginner painters baulk at the thought of tackling such a complex pattern. I was trying to break it down into simple, easy to understand steps, to show them that it wasn't as difficult as it seems, and that you can achieve very satisfying results without having to copy the pattern exactly - as you suggested.

    I never said MY method was THE method, I'm not that arrogant or that talented. If you don't like my method, don't use it. If you have a better way, then please share it with us all and be brave enough to post detailed SBS photos and expose your painting to criticism (like I do).

    Al painting and sculpting in miniature scale is to some degree impressionistic; we try to achieve photo-realism and exactness, but at the end of the day the best we can hope for is to create the impression of the real thing - that's the point of my comment about getting the "feel" of camoflague. A point you seem to have missed.

    For the record, as I painted the Royal Marine Commando figure, I was wearing a pair of British DPM trousers at the time. They were given to me by a former member of the RM Commando's, who wore them in the Falklands campaign.

    I haven't seen a single photo of any of your models on Planet Figure yet, although you seem to regard yourself as an expert on just about every piece of military clothing throughout history, and you've been very free with your criticisms of other people's work since you arrived on the Planet, but have never posted any photos or other reference sources to back up your comments.

    A couple of weeks ago, I warmly welcomed you to our Forum (as I try to do with all new members). Unfortunately, your posts since you joined this forum make you sound like an arrogant, opionated, patronizing know-it-all, and I for one don't appreciate it.

    My advice to you would be to take a more humble and respectful tone in expressing your thoughts on other people's figures, and if you can't - keep them to yourself.
  18. HiroshiAirborne Active Member

    Tony, fantastic work!! I'd say you got the camo dead on!

    Also, since we are on the topic of putting things on the record, back when I worked at the local surplus store (long before my Army days) we had a few sets of DPMs that were brought over from a nice man who got a job at one of the aircraft manufacturing plants.

    Depending on the manufacturing plant and die-lot of that day, and how used the uniform was, some of them would fade to a nice yellow-green base coat, which was described as WRONG. I've seen some faded to brown as well.

    My point? I worked in a small store with thousands of uniforms from all military branches from all over the globe. You can stack all the UK DPMs and I guarantee that none of them will be the EXACT same shade and color. You may find one that is close, but it won't be exact.

    Harry, take it from someone who deals with a lot of uniforms. If you get the shapes right and the colors close, you've got a perfect painted uniform. It's perfect because it can't be wrong since somewhere there is a uniform faded, beaten, and sun-bleached to something very similar to someone's paint scheme.

    Sorry to rant, everyone.

    - Hiroshi
    yeo_64 and tonydawe like this.
  19. housecarl A Fixture

    Personally Tony, I think Harry's right. The pattern is all wrong, as are the colours.
    So stick to doing what you do best, painting Light horse figures. But having said that you'd probably get that wrong to.
    I'm off to paint something else the wrong colour,
    Scotty and tonydawe like this.
  20. e-junkie Member

    Great method

    Thx Tony for sharing your method with us, it is extremely valuable. I would have expected such crazy pattern to be a true nigntmare to render, but the schedule you describe makes it really affordable and the result is just superb.

    I was wondering that such method might also be suitable for some other patterns like splinter, peadot and so on, no?

    Thanks again

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