Woodlands MARPAT and ACU painting guide

01 Sep

OK, the recent posts have led to questions on what colours I used and how I painted both my Marines (woodlands MARPAT) and my Army soldiers (ACU). First off all sorry for the lack of a picture walk through… I kind of shot from the hip here after a couple of requests.

Lets start with the technique. Modern camouflage clothing can be a real problem to paint. Patterns like the German Flecktarn, USMC´s MARPAT or USArmy ACU look really awesome in real life, but the thought of painting minis in such pattern can really make one give up on the project before it starts. Who really wants to paint tons of little spots or blocks on a mini, much worse a whole set of minis!

But there really are easier ways. Since we are only painting scale models we only need to fool the eye and that can usually done with really simple techniques.

When it comes to the base colour, you should always start with the dominant colour in the pattern. So for my Marines it was a base of Valejo (VAL) Panzer Aces 339 “Field Grey II highlight”. This is actually a very light brown, much like bleached wood. For the Army I used a base of VAL 886 “Green Grey”.

The rest of the work involved what I call “dry dipping”. This basically works like dry brushing. Only that you take a brush with hard hair, approximately “0” or “Fine Detail” size. Use an old one if possible, since it will be ruined afterwards for anything but this technique. You need to prepare it first, which means putting paint on and pushing it straight down on a piece of paper. After a short time the hairs will be bend to the sides and this is when you can use it.

Before you start dipping, brush some of the paint off using the same method you used while preparing the brush. When there is only about the amount of paint left you would want for dry brushing, push the brush sideways against the mini. When the paint from the brush is used up, refresh. You do not need to dip it into the paint-can every time, but you can refresh it from the paper you used for getting off the brush. Works about once or twice. Do this for every layer of paint, always going from te most dominant colours to the least dominant ones.

In case of woodlands MARPAT this is: VAL 70980 “Black Green”, Black (any manufacturer will do) and Coat d´arms 236 “Horse Tone Grey” (essentially a very light grey or off-white).

In case of ACU this is: Games Workshop “Rotting Flesh” and VAL 70894 “Camouflage Olive”

Since this technique works the same way as dry brushing, the deepest parts will mostly just take on the base colour. Not as much as with dry brushing, since the dipping gets into the recesses to a higher degree, but still not enough. And obviously a camo pattern does not limit itself to the raised spots. So just go back and paint a few small spots of the missing colours with a normal brush into the recesses. Do the same for any spot where you accidentally put too much of one colour.

Now go and prepare a wash. In both cases I used 1 part paint (a dark chocolate-brown for the Marines, black for the Army), 5 parts water (if you prepare a larger amount for future use distilled water since it will not rot) and 1 part white or Elmers glue. The later will help the wash settle into th deep spots, creating a shading on the minis that would otherwise be bleeping hard to achieve on a camo pattern like this. Brush the wash on without remorse.

Now this technique is fast (you can do about 2 to 3 squads in one evening) and the results look good IMHO.

In case you are interested… the boots were done with Coat d´arms 222 “Horse Tone Roan” ( light tan colour), washed with the brown wash and then drybrushed with “Horse Tone Roan” again.

Coyote Brown items (the Marines vests) for example were done in “Horse Tone Roan” with a little white mixed in and then washed with th brown wash.

So once done, your Marines and GI´s can start to deploy to any tabletop field of glory.


Marines (this is a photo from an older game before I repainted the bases olive)


2 responses to “Woodlands MARPAT and ACU painting guide

  1. Harkonnen

    December 22, 2011 at 16:20

    Are you sure that Camouflage Olive is 70894? in Vallejo Catalogue it appears as “Russian Green”


    • Burkhard

      December 22, 2011 at 22:48

      Hello Harkonnen,

      The number should be right. I am not sure where this comes from, but the last time I ordered “Russian Green” from Maelstrom I got “Camouflage Green”. Same thing happened when they send a replacement. Anyway… “Camouflage Green” is the right colour.



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