Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Painting Tutorial – DPM

I’ve had a few people comment on the various different camouflages I’ve painted on figures, some asking how I do it. I think it would be rather easier just to SHOW you how I do it. Now it would be rather impractical to invite many of you over for a painting night so I thought I’d try doing a “painting tutorial” as a post on my blog.

I thought I’d start with Modern British DPM. I guess I should say “Temperate” DPM – so as to differentiate from Desert DPM. I decided to do DPM first as I’ve done a lot of it, I’m pretty happy with the way it turns out, and I happen to have a few British figures from Mongrel Miniatures on the workbench this week.

When painting any camouflage it’s a good idea to have a REALLY GOOD LOOK at a number of sources. I happen to have acquired a few pieces of DPM kit over the years and nothing beats having a good look at the genuine article. I also have a number of books with good colour pictures. Of course there are innumerable resources available on the Internet. Here’s a few:

Camoflage Uniforms of the World

Now this is by no stretch of the imagination meant to be THE definitive, end-all-be-all, hot to guide… this is just how I happen to paint Modern British figures wearing DPM. Adapt or ignore as you see fit.

For another guide to painting DPM Check out Mongrel Miniatures Modern British Painting Guide

Step One

(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

Black. I base coat in black. I do this with all figures. I then paint the areas I want to be painted directly leaving a little black border around everything. I think it helps bring out the detail. I never do any washes, very rarely do any highlighting or dry-brushing.

In an attempt to eliminate the use of aerosols in and around the house I’ve started using black gesso to prime/base-coat my figures recently. It’s a little more tricky and time-consuming, but better that than huge amounts of extra rubbish in the landfill and breathing disorders in my children…

I thought I’d do a painting on a piece of paper as I thought it might help show the steps a little more clearly – it’s not always easy to see what’s going on with a figure…

Step Two

Paint the webbing. I don’t know why, but I always paint the webbing first…. I think it’s a habit developed from painting 15mm and 20mm figures it’s easier to paint the webbing first and paint up to it when doing the uniform than to paint the skinny little straps afterwards without touching the uniform…

You get the idea…

Step Three

Khaki Base – don’t ask me which GW or Humbrol of Vallego paint it is, I don’t use any of those. I use cheap craft paints from the dollar store or Michaels. In fact the I couldn’t find the right khaki so I just mixed this one. I think it was a mix of Deco Art Crafter’s Acrylic “Tan” and Folk Art Artists Pigment #237 “Fawn”. But there may have been drops of other colours mixed in at one point or another…

See what I mean about painting up to the edge…? Leaving black outline…?

Step Four

Brown - Here’s where we start making it look like camouflage. I do “swoopy-splotchy” strokes of brown all over (it’s a “burnt umber” of one make or another…). I also use the same brown to under-paint the flesh.

“swoopy-splotchy” (and underpainted fleshy bits).

Step Five

Again with the Green – more “swoopy-splotches” of green.

“Swoopy-splotches” of green

Step Six

Flesh! - Taking a break from the camouflage bits I paint some flesh.

You can kind of see the pattern I use for painting flesh here - nose and forehead, then temples, cheeks and around the mouth. Fingers done individually. This is the only colour I usually undercoat – flesh right on top of black, with the black outlining the fingers and nose just looks a little too… I don’t know… harsh?

Step Seven

Black – I do thin squiggly lines on the camo, darken the eye sockets, and touch up any important borders that got blobbed on that really need to be defined.

Black squiggly lines…

The rest is just finishing up little bits: whites of the eyes and pupils, head gear, weapon, any touch-ups needed…

Head gear…

Well that’s about it. this guy just needs some matte varnish finish and some static grass and he’s ready to lead little lead men into action! Hmmmm... I think I'll have to go back and add a couple of watered down green splotches to his face for camo face paint...

Now I'll have to dig out an American to do some Woodland Camo on.

Hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to post them below!


  1. Hey great post! I will probably be working on some camo stuff here shortly and I will have it posted to my blog eventullyish

  2. Amazing - you must have unbelievable fine motor control to be able to paint up to a black line so consistently and in such quantity. I always wondered how you crank them out so fast, and how you got such great definition. I assumed you used washes, but this is simpler, and much better for the quantity of guys you do - assuming you have that fine motor control! How long have you been doing this?

    My hat"s off to you.

  3. whoops please amend Christi to Christian. stupid fingers!

    You can see why I never discovered your painting method...

  4. Greetings!
    I'm wondering if you would like to help me out with my camouflage pattern? I'm having some troubles with picking the right colours and so on.

    If you're interested in making a tutorial or equal I'd be forever grateful.

    Best regards from Sweden!

    Email/MSN - sandgrinder (at) (replace (at) with an @).

  5. Aha! Doing site searches for keywords directed me here for "gesso". :)

    In an attempt to eliminate the use of aerosols in and around the house I’ve started using black gesso to prime/base-coat my figures recently. It’s a little more tricky and time-consuming, but better that than huge amounts of extra rubbish in the landfill and breathing disorders in my children…

    Can you go into more detail on what you mean by tricky? I can imagine time-consuming because of brush time. Do you do multiple coats? I see gesso in white, how do you make it in black? (I'm seeing it on Walmart/Kmart in white...)

    I've been thinking about perhaps using Zinnser primer as well... it's acrylic and could be thinned.

  6. You can get black gesso at an art supply store. I think Michaels might even have it. I generally do one or two coats at most. it's pretty thick and if you put it on too thick you can lose detail or get bubbling... actually most recently I've been doing one coat of gesso, then one coat of black paint.

  7. oh yes! well... I do. you don't want to thin it TOO much though.... it's one of those things you kind of have to experiment with!

  8. I could see that. Is gesso one of those things where you can't do more than one coat (if I thin it too much) or does it still work with multiple coats. I'm reading where the "binder" is already thin in gesso, and I'd hate to be smearing on multiple coats of it where the binder won't do it's job.

    Yay, I have a project for some of my monsters (which I'm OK if they need stripped and repainted)

    How does gesso work on plastic? (I'm assuming you've been talking about metal in your posts...)

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions!

  9. No worries!

    I've done multiple coats of gesso - but again if you do to much you'll start losing some detail. I've found what works best for me is one slightly thinned coat of gesso, one coat of black paint. I aply the gesso in batches. I'll do about four or five or however long it takes until the first ones show signs of the thinner areas of gesso (on the high points) are starting to dry. Then I go back to the first ones and brush them again - not adding new gesso- just to get all the thick stuff settling in the low parts/recesses out and spread it about on the higher points.

    After it's completely dry (usually the next day) I do a coat of black paint - mostly to fill in the very small details that the gesso didn't get into (if I left it too think) or coat the high points (If I made it too thin).

    Hope that sort of makes sense - it's one of those things that's probably easier to show than to describe. Like I said; Experiment! I still am!!

    Hard plastic 28mm stuff works fine.

    Soft plastic 1/72 stuff works so-so...

  10. Awesome, thank you for the explanations! Anything that will allow me to prime in winter is welcome, even with the need for experimentation. I'll definitely post about this as I try it out.

  11. Tim, Thanks for the tutorial. I picked up some Devil Dog British Royal Marines last week, found your tutorial and having been lurking on your blog for a few years now gave your painting style a try. WOW is all I can say. The DPM turned out splendid. Thanks for the inspiration, I actually think my painting progressed over the eight models from start to finish. Thanks.

  12. cheers!

    Glad it was of help to you!

  13. You say at the end of the turorial that you give the mini a coat of matt varnish - do you brush this on or spray? Is it a hobby-specific varnish, or something generic (given that you use ordinary artist's acrylics...)? My first batch of Fallschirmjagers-a-la-Tim (with camo jackets based on your DPM) are nearly ready to varnish, and I'm very pleased so far.

  14. It's a paint on product. I'm using Liquitex Matte varnish. but I swear it's the same stuff waterbased finish I've used on hardwood floors... smells the same, looks the same, same consistency...

    There's kind of a trick to it... don't just slosh it on and leave it or it pools in the recesses and looks terrible. I do about two or three figures then go back and, using a dry brush, brush over the figure again to catch any that's pooling.

    Also I do it before adding static grass to the base as it turns static grass to goop....

  15. As old as this post is, it's still quite helpful for those of us wanting to paint this camo and in need of a start point. Thank you!