How To Paint Digital Camo: A Quick Guide

Updated on

Whether for hunting, being in the wilderness or simply for its appearance, camouflage is a look that has distinct functional and aesthetic qualities. Camo, as it is affectionately called, has traditionally consisted of blobs, swirls, and patches of various earth tone colors arranged in an unstructured manner. But like so many things in the digital age, camouflage has evolved and taken on a decidedly modern appearance.

Now, camo has a digitized look with various-sized pixels arranged in a military meets Minecraft TM style, and this modernized version is very popular with hobbyists and sporting enthusiasts alike. Interested in applying a digital camo look to something you own? Here are the essentials you need to know in order to do it yourself and have it come out looking great.

How To Paint Digital Camo: A Quick Guide

The application of digital camo entails placing its pixelated arrangement of colors on whatever surface it adorns, be it clothing, an object, or a structure. While digital camo basically amounts to colored blocks arranged in such a way as to create a camouflage pattern, applying it is a different matter.

Painting digital camo can be a straightforward process but it requires patience and a commitment to doing it right. Taking the right approach can be the difference between digital camo that has the appearance of military-grade spec and one that looks like a preschooler’s art project.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to painting digital camo and these are the key steps to follow.

Choose Your Color Scheme

Generally speaking, digital camo, such as that used by military branches all over the world, consists of a palette of dull earth tones in order to provide maximum camouflage. The basic color ingredients for digital camo include various shades of brown, green, and sometimes gray or white.

For instance, the U.S. Army’s Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP) comprises six colors:

  • Medium Gray (Hex Color 7C887E)
  • Medium Green (Hex Color 91967F)
  • Light Green (Hex Color BAB79F)
  • Cream (Hex Color D3D2CD)
  • Light Brown (Hex Color A08D83)
  • Dark Gray (eHexHHHex Color 726870)

Aside from earth tones, alternate camo color schemes can incorporate blue hues for a naval theme, whites and light grays for a winterized look or any part of the spectrum that suits your eyes.

Use the Right Type of Paint

For any type of camo to achieve the desired visual effect, the right color scheme has to be chosen. Once that task has been accomplished, the next step is to choose the right type of paint. While it is certainly possible to paint digital camo one block at a time, this can be a tedious and time-consuming process, particularly if the surface being painted covers a large area.

The most efficient and popular technique for painting digital camo is employing a combination of stencils (more on this later) and spray paint. When properly done, this method can paint even the most intricate pixels on small or uneven surfaces.

As far as spray paints are concerned, it is important to avoid glossy finishes as having a surface that is shiny runs contrary to the desired aesthetic of digital camo (or any type of camo for that matter). Instead, go with matte paints that are dull and non-reflective.

Not surprisingly, there are a number of spray paint options that are specifically marketed for camouflage painting and they are available in a broad range of colors to suit any camo scheme.

Select Your Digital Camo Stencils

Digital camo is all about the pixelated appearance of the different color patterns. To achieve this unique, modernized look, do-it-yourselfers turn to specialized stencils or masks that have the block shapes pre-cut and pre-arranged.

There are two primary types of camo stencils:

  • Basic digital camo stencils have the pixelated shapes cut out of them and are positioned over the surface to be painted
  • Adhesive camo stencils are typically made from pliable materials and can be affixed to small or irregularly contoured surfaces for fine detail work (most can also be peeled off and reused)

While purchasing pre-cut stencils is the most common option for most do-it-yourselfers, it is also possible to find stencil templates online and print them out at no cost. While free stencil templates will need to be cut out by hand, it is a great way to paint digital camo on a tight budget.

Apply the Paint

Because by definition, camouflage involves multiple colors, the application of paint is the most important phase of painting digital camo. To achieve the desired look, digital camo has to be painted incrementally as each color is laid down separately, and with each layer of color, more area is filled in with blocks.

Most digital camo stencils are part of larger sets consisting of multiple sheets with different patterns cut out of them. By overlaying stencils one at a time and applying different colors in between, you can achieve a multi-colored, pixelated camo on whatever surface you are painting.

Here are the key steps for applying the paint:

  • Make sure to tape over all areas that will not be painted in the digital camo
  • The base color coat (i.e., the background color) is painted first over the entire surface area
  • The stencil with the largest cut-outs, which will result in the largest painted pixel area, is painted next
  • From this point, each additional stencil that is painted will get progressively smaller and have finer details

Once all the colors of the digital camo have been painted, it is a good idea to apply a protective coat like enamel or polyurethane to provide a measure of scratch and weather resistance to your work.

Design Your Own Digi-Camo Pattern

For a truly customized digital camo look, you can design your own stencil pattern using popular graphic design programs like Adobe Photoshop TM. As long as you have a general proficiency in working with editing software, you can create personalized digital camo with customized colors and pixel sizes.

Here’s how it works:

  • Begin with a large blank document to make viewing and editing the digital camo easier (3000 x 3000 pixels is a good size)
  • Randomized shapes can be created using the built-in Clouds filter
  • By utilizing the Blurring tool and manipulating the Pixelation values, you can transform clouds into pixelated shapes of various sizes to achieve a digitized camo effect
  • Colors can be laid down through the use of layers (one for each different color)
  • Various slider controls allow any aspect of the digital camo document to be adjusted at will

Using these techniques, any number of custom color schemes and pixel patterns can be combined to produce limitless digital camo possibilities.

Final Thoughts

Digital camo not only features a highly functional design, but it has strong aesthetic appeal as well. With a little bit of know-how and some patience, painting digital camo yourself can produce results so good they almost look professionally done. Best of all, choosing your own color palette ensures that your digital camo creation reflects your personality regardless of where and how it is applied.