Some thoughts on how to paint camouflage

Image from Games Workshop

Painting camouflage. It's not something you think about (at least not me) until you actually have to sit down and do it. I thought I might have to do it once, but I managed to weasel out of it fortunately.

That doesn't help you guys figure out how to paint it though. Since I don't know myself, I figured I would ask a couple of FTW members that immediately came to mind for having some "expertise" in the area. Games Workshop does offer some assistance in this area with their troop camo patterns and tank patterns articles.
Arcadia Prime has a great post on the "art of camo" on his blog.

Here's what the FTW guys had to say. Naturally, they're both Guard players.
If you've got a tip or trick when it comes to camo, leave a link in the comments and I'll get it added to the post for everyone to see.

Image from Admiral Drax

Admiral Drax Check out his blog
For a British-style 'DPM' camouflage on troops, I start with a Dark Angels Green basecoat, then paint on different splodges (C- or Y-shaped; about 3mm long) in the following order: Bleached Bone, Scorched Brown then Chaos Black. The black, as a final layer, adds a little depth and definition.
Step by step can be found here with more examples here.

Image from Admiral Drax

For vehicles, my golden rule is that from a distance of 3 feet or more, the camouflage banding should be sufficient to make it harder to ascertain the distinctive outline or equipment of the vehicle. For those looking for some additional reading, here's an interesting theory on camouflage.

Image from Col. Corbane

Col. Corbane Check out his blog
Camo is a tricky one for model painters, simply because it's entire purpose is to disguise and break up the recognizable shapes. So, when we apply it to a 40k model that's quite small, it tends to become a blur with no real recognizable details because that's exactly what it's designed to do.

So, when it comes to painting camouflage on your models, you need to paint a suggestion of camouflage and by that, I mean a more simplified version. This way, anyone looking at the model close up can see it's wearing camo but from a short distance, they can still make out the details and shape of the model rather than it being a blur.

When it comes down to vehicles, you can make your design more complicated because there's a larger area to play with and so it's less likely to look like a blur. I still prefer to stick with a simple two tone pattern when it comes to painting camouflage on my vehicles, but I think that's down to my time in the British Army and that being the standard camouflage method for British military vehicles.

If you're looking for inspiration, I can highly recommend the Strictly Photos and Videos section of the forums at

There you have it, two experts with how they paint camouflage. Hope this helps get you started on the right track if you're looking to add a little camo to your troops or tanks. Or you can do what I do and try to avoid it all together.

Additional FTW related links:
Painting leopard spots by The Painting Corps
Painting digital camouflage (ACUPAT) by Arcadia Prime
Devilfish camo pattern with an airbrush by Arcadia Prime
Vehicle camo with an airbrush by Excomunicate Traitoris

Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!