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Painting Russian ‘Fallen Leaves’ Camouflage

When starting to paint figures of the Second World War, and especially ‘modern’ subjects, every modeler invariably comes up against the task of camouflage uniform reproduction. Certainly, a competently painted and finished camouflage pattern will make the figure very entertaining, effective and advantageous. Similarly, a careless, unplanned or casual attempt can ultimately spoil a figure.

For this tutorial, I have chosen a rather specific and complex Soviet WW2 pattern, known as ‘Fallen Leaves’. I will demonstrate the painting of this scheme in a step-by-step fashion, on a 1/35 Soviet scout, produced by TANK Company. On one hand, this rarely covered pattern is interesting to me as a painter; but on the another hand, having understood the principles of painting a complex pattern, one can ‘pick up a key’ from this SBS and use it to execute any camouflage.

‘Fallen Leaves’
Officially known as Maskirovochnyy Kamuflirovochnyy Kostyum (MKK), this camouflage was first trialed in 1940, and issued the following year. Although this pattern never saw as much usage as the famous pre-war ‘Amoeba’ pattern, a range of Soviet troops, including snipers, engineers, airborne, and reconnaissance units of the NKVD used it. The latter continued to use this camouflage uniform after the war in operations against local nationalist groups in western Ukraine and the Baltic. It also saw limited use into the 1950s with naval infantry and reservists, and through to the 1960s and ‘70s in the Romanian armed forces, where reservists wear it to this day.

Unlike the earlier ‘Amoeba’ pattern, the new leaf pattern was not disruptive, but a semi-realistic mimicry of leaves, grasses, and twigs.

Getting Started
First, it is necessary to find qualitative photos of the chosen pattern. In this case, I used a picture from the book Uniforms of the Red Army 1918-1945. It is not a very difficult task to find the necessary photos of this pattern, particularly on the Internet. The only thing to keep in mind is that it is better to find a photo of an authentic original example, instead of so-called ‘replicas’.

At first sight, the ‘Fallen leaves’ pattern (as well as many other camouflage schemes) simply look like complex and unsystematic sets of spots, lines, leaves. Therefore, the first step will be the analysis of a camouflage sample and the search for any structure or systematic pattern on which the figure painting will be based.

The approach, as always, should be from the general to the particular. Don’t focus too tightly on details, but try to see the general principles. Remember that overwhelming numbers of camouflage patterns are printed industrially, and therefore, a single complex template or component will be repeated in a particular pattern, throughout the fabric. The pattern or rhythm of this repetition will, of course, vary according to the type of camouflage. Attentively studying the original sample, it is necessary to recognize characteristics in the pattern, and allocate them a place in the template. This template will then be repeated to form the larger camouflage area. Analyzing the area you wish to paint, you will then be able to figure out where to repeat the template in order to cover the area. For ‘Fallen Leaves’ it is possible to determine that this template is roughly diamond-shaped.

Having understood the structure, it is possible to begin to paint.

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