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Painting Russian ‘Fallen Leaves’ Camouflage

Painting the Camouflage
The base coat of paint should be allowed to dry before the camouflage pattern is begun (Photo 1).

For demonstration purposes, I have chosen the most visible area on the figure, which is the trousers, but in reality, it is better to begin with the least important places. For example, if a figure in a diorama stands with its back to a fence, then why not start with the back?

Placing the photo on a table (Photo 2), and carefully tracing each element, we begin the first template or component of the scheme (Photo 3).

At this stage, it is important that the scale of the pattern is clear. On the reference photo, I can see that the template is placed thrice between the belt and the left knee, for example.

Now, moving in a straight line (when produced in a factory, the pattern is in fact printed on a roll of fabric), we paint the second component (Photo 4), the third (Photo 5) and the fourth (Photo 6). The first ‘column’ of basic components is ready. They are located in a specific pattern (in this case, a row).

Now we need to pay attention to the following point - camouflage should be painted regardless of the figure’s pose or equipment. With young or inexperienced painters, it is possible to see this lack of attention to detail. Often, in large unrestricted areas of the uniform, the pattern components look normal, but as a barrier (such as a belt, edge of a sleeve, or a pouch) is approached, the component is either ended unrealistically, or truncated in a less uniform way. The pattern needs to lead up to the barrier in a continuous carpet, and disappear under it, or break off naturally where the fabric actually ends.

Now we expand our ‘Fallen Leaves’ horizontally. The principle of this pattern is that the components in the next column are staggered in relation to the first column. Remembering that the component is roughly diamond-shaped, you can see the basic structure by looking at a chessboard that has been rotated 45 degrees – the squares are the basic templates or components.

Keeping our basic components identical in shape and size, we then paint the third and fourth columns (Photos 7 & 8).

Here we came to very important point in the overall look of a camouflaged figure. Analyzing any type of uniform, we can see that the pattern is subordinate to the uniform’s actual seams. In real life, the components that make up a cam pattern rarely coincide neatly at seams and other fabric joints and certainly not when superimposed elements (pockets, collars, epaulettes) are present. In these places, the pattern will look displaced, mismatched, or even to have changed direction completely. It will give us the look of a tailored piece of clothing. In photos, it is often clear that camouflage patterns are misaligned on the vertical seams of trousers, and the painter must faithfully replicate this. This seam effect may not be that visible with camouflage patterns made up of small detailed components, but when painting Soviet ‘Amoeba’, German ‘Splinter’, or American ‘Tigerstripe’, it will appreciably effect the final look, and it is a very marked detail.

Now that we have the precise ‘skeleton’ of a camouflage pattern, we must fill the gaps between the components with the secondary smaller elements. In ‘Fallen Leaves’, these are spots and thin linear silhouettes of leaves (Photo 9). In the middle of each leaf, there is a patch of a lighter colour, rather than base color.

Without haste, we paint these details, and correct any flaws noticeable in the initial large components.

Now, having understood the pattern, we continue painting the rest of the trousers.

The basic stage is now complete, the camouflage is exactly replicated, with all the details, but the soldier has a rather ‘flat’ look, which is necessary to emphasize volume. Usually, I proceed under the premise that the more complex a camouflage pattern is, the less shading it needs, and vice versa. A complex pattern with detailed elements that has been shaded at all the folds and wrinkles can lose its expressiveness and become a coloured porridge. A simple scheme (such as the Soviet ‘Amoeba’ pattern), where the percentage that is base or background colour, will demand more careful shading at the folds. In any case, it is necessary to trust in taste and sense, and to understand how best to present a cam pattern. And the most important – when to stop.

Our camouflage has a lot of contrast, therefore it will not demand detailed shading – some slight shadowing at the larger folds will replicate the character of fabric, and accent the deep shadows (Photo 10).

Now it is necessary to continue painting the figure and to add the final touches with pigments (Photo 11). The finished scout should look like this (Photo 12).

Using similar principles, it is possible to analyze and execute any camouflage pattern.

www.rkka.ru :: Soviet Scout wearing 'Fallen Leaves' camouflage

Ed: Photos 7 - 12 follow L-R at the bottom
  • Fallen Leaves: Photo 1
    Fallen Leaves: Photo 1
  • Fallen Leaves: Photo 2
    Fallen Leaves: Photo 2
  • Fallen Leaves: Photo 3
    Fallen Leaves: Photo 3
  • Fallen Leaves: Photo 4
    Fallen Leaves: Photo 4
  • Fallen Leaves: Photo 5
    Fallen Leaves: Photo 5
  • Fallen Leaves: Photo 6
    Fallen Leaves: Photo 6
  • Fallen Leaves: Photo 7
  • Fallen Leaves: Photo 8
  • Fallen Leaves: Photo 9
  • Fallen Leaves: Photo 10
  • Fallen Leaves: Photo 11
  • Fallen Leaves: Photo 12

About the Author

About Vladimir Demchenko (Demchenko)


Excellent article and Vladimir's work has always been an inspiration for me. Thanks Vladimir and kudos to David as well for helping to get this article to print.
AUG 02, 2006 - 08:48 AM
Actually, it was a pleasure to watch this excellent SBS unfold. Most people aren't that familiar with Russian WW2 cam, and it was certainly an eye opener for me. We can look forward to more of the same from Vladimir.
AUG 02, 2006 - 05:21 PM
Certainly is an excellent article. Thanks Vladimir for taking the time to write it.
AUG 02, 2006 - 09:50 PM
Has anyone else here ever painted this pattern, or any other Russian pattern, for that matter? I can't recall seeing any cammed-up Soviet figs here. Most WW2 Russians are in plain colours.
AUG 02, 2006 - 10:18 PM
David, I must agree with you... have not seen many WW2 Soviet figures in camo. Although... Gino Poppe has done amoeba (sp?) Rudi
AUG 03, 2006 - 12:49 AM