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Painting a Denisson Smock

A Bridge Too Far . . .
The paratrooper heaves his wounded comrade over his shoulder and pulls him out of danger. With a Sten in one hand and his buddy's hand in the other, he sets off in search of an aid station. The man across his back is, after all, the medic for his unit.

For three days the British paratroopers have been fighting in Arnhem, their armored relief has yet to find them. Things are really getting desperate...

So you want to build this scene or others set in Arnhem or Normandy in 1944, but the thought of painting the camouflage on that Dennison smock just keeps sending you away to other projects. Yeah that was me until about a week ago too. Then I finally decided to give the tri-colored smock a shot.... And I found it wasn’t that hard.

First things first, I don’t profess to be an expert on this camouflage, but I think I found a method that’s passable. My main reference has been the Osprey Elite Book “The British Airborne Forces 1940-84” and it is a great source for color plates and examples of the smock.

What you need

PAINT (see image)
I use all Tamiya acrylic paints for the main part of the camouflage:
  • Base color: Nato Green (XF-67) with a little bit of white added to lighten the green just a bit (This is the same base color I used on M-1 tanks, AAV-7’s etc)
  • Yellowish color: Dark Yellow (XF-60)
  • Brown: Nato Brown (XF-68)
  • Dry brush color 1: Testors Acryl Sand (you can probably get by with a lightened Tamiya Buff (XF-57) as well)
  • Dry Brush Color II: Use the base color green again
  • Shadow tones: Thinned Testors Raw Umber

    I’m working in 120MM so keep a fairly small 3/0 brush around for painting the brown and yellow areas. You can use whatever brush you find fits your needs for the scale you are working in or the look you are going for.

    Getting to work
    (See image)
    For this example I’m using Verlinden’s 120mm kit "VP0519 - A Bridge Too Far".
    After gluing the torso halves together and filling any gaps, I applied a base coat of the NATO green over the entire area of the smock. I did this application by brush. While many people complain about how Tamiya paint goes on by brush, I have never had any of those issues.

    On to Yellow
    (See image)
    After allowing the base coat to dry, I then move on to adding the yellow blotches to the uniform. I follow no pattern, simply painting them at irregular intervals and in irregular shapes. I work in a way that creates “swaths” of color cutting across the fabric. I also leave little wispy “fingers” at the edges of the blotches, as it appears the Dennisions were printed in this manner.

    How now Brown Cow
    (See image)
    After the yellow areas dry, it’s time to move on to the brown patches. Using many of the same random methods I apply the brown paint, cutting across both Green and yellow areas, again leaving some “fingers” at the edge of the painted areas. Don’t be worried if some of the yellow shows through the brown, it appears that this would happen on some smocks I have seen.

    Ruin that color
    (See image)
    Now that the basic camo is done, it’s time to ruin it. The colors are too bright at this point and way too pronounced. So to blend them and to give a more realistic appetence, break out some sand colored paint and your favorite dry brushing brush. Dip the brush in the paint and work almost all of the paint out of the brush (you really want almost nothing left on your brush). Then give the entire a figure a nice dry brushing of the sand paint. This will help bring out highlights and help tie all the colors together. It may take several passes with the dry brushing to get the look you want (or just one pass), once you’re happy with the way it looks, stop.

    Ruin it some more
    (See image)
    Ok, you’re almost done, just one more step :
    At this point you want to go back to that base green you started with. Again using a very small amount on a dry brushing brush, give the entire figure a swipe with the brush (again it may take several tries or just one, depending on the look you want). This will help kill the bright colors and tie all of the camo colors together.

    That's it...
    (See image)
    And there you have it. At this point I usually paint the web gear and then go in with some thinned Raw umber and add shadows to all the creases and the areas where webbed gear meet the uniforms.
    Hope this has helped, but remember it’s just a guide. If you find a way to do it better, please let me and the other builders on this site know!!! Feel free to PM or e-mail me if you have more questions. I’m more than happy to help.

    Nate (Porkchop)
    Wisc. USA

    • Source
    • Colors
    • Green
    • Yellow
    • Brown
    • Drybrush_1
    • Drybrush_2
    • IM001716

    About the Author

    About Nathan Phelps (PorkChop)

    Haven't touched a flat finish in years.


    Good thing to have in library such nice and quick solutions. Thanks
    JAN 26, 2004 - 06:20 PM
    Wander: Thanks for bringing that point up, another builder here did as well on an eariler post. And you are correct. So to whomever sees this, heed his advice!!! The biggest issues seemed to be color selection and getting the basic pattern, so I focused on that, but you are correct. Thanks for pointing that out!! Also, welcome to the site, hope to see many more posts from you in the future...
    JAN 27, 2004 - 04:08 AM
    I noticed the pics in this article showed the familiar red crosses. I decided to edit the article and work it towards the new picture system. Will be ready soon !
    AUG 12, 2005 - 08:16 AM
    Done, It's totally renewed now.
    AUG 12, 2005 - 08:47 AM
    Hi Danny..found Nates how to posting most interesting , along with others,,,what I find the most interesting is the wide range of paint types we use, to end at the same result... I have done several camo figures and would only ever use oils, I like to play with the light and dark with in the camo pattens,often I will use talcum powder or crushed pastles on the shoulders and upper arms to give a look of ingrained dust or dirt this when the oils are only touch dry, gently blending them in.......do the same with half wet clothing, I find the oils allow me to do this.....just another way .. all enjoyable fun..Phil
    AUG 12, 2005 - 04:46 PM
    Phil, I took the liberty of peeking inside your gallery and I must say your figure painting is wonderful. I've seen some amazing stuff in there. Perhaps I can persuade you in writing a few lines how you paint the camouflage in oils.... I'm most interested in the talcum powder / pastels part too !
    AUG 12, 2005 - 07:51 PM
    Danny morning,...mate ill be in on that, but bare with Im very slow on the key board... Im flat chat painting the dreaded toy soldiers, working to a dead line.. Should I post it on Gen Mod., when Im ready.... Phil
    AUG 14, 2005 - 11:52 AM
    Good stuff. Many thanks Nate for the article.
    AUG 14, 2005 - 12:22 PM
    I happen to have one of these (British Airborne guy) on my workbence and I paint with acrylics so thank you.
    AUG 14, 2005 - 12:38 PM
    Glad it was hel[pful. The last post on this thread -- until 2 days ago -- was more than 18 months ago (back when I finished stuff). Let me know if you guys need anything else!
    AUG 14, 2005 - 01:11 PM