Friday, 1 May 2020

Waffen-SS - Erbsentarn Colour Guide

Following on from last weeks Colour Guide on the summer version of the Oak Leaf camoflage pattern today it's time for the Erbsentarn or Pea Dot pattern. Both camouflage patterns were widely used at Arnhem. But beware Pea Dot pattern was never used on anything else than uniforms and field caps. There were no smocks, no helmet covers, no mittens or even Zeltbahnen in this pattern.
Thus I went for the Oak Leaf pattern for all of these items as this was the most widely distributed at the time.

My painting style is based on the so-called Triad-System or Foundry System in which you use a Shade as the darkest colour. Then you paint over it using what is called a Base Colour (in general the actual colour you want to achieve for the piece you're just painting) leaving the Shade show only in the folds and recesses, followed by a Highlight on the points which will catch the most light. However, I'm using intermediate steps to make the transitions between the different colours much smoother.
Thus typically the steps I use would look somewhat like:

Shade - 50/50 mix Shade/Base - Base - 50/50 mix Base/Highlight - Highlight

In general what I'll give you in this tutorial is the three colours as if used as simple triads. If you prefer the more elaborate approach just add in the intermediate steps mentioned above, or start from an even darker Shade or end with a lighter Highlight.

If fractions in brackets are given these are just approximations. Just try what looks best to you.

Note: I haven't documented every single step for this Colour Guide, so you might want to refer to some of the guides I wrote earlier. To do so just go to the top of the page where you'll find a link to a page containing direct links to all the Colour Guides I wrote to date.

Step 1:
The uniform is painted using a base coat of VMC 70.871 Leather Brown. As I won't add any highlights later on I made doubly sure to let the black primer show in the recesses and seams thus adding some depth

Step 2:
This was followed by random spots of VMC 70.876 Brown Sand. Again I stop at seams and crevasses to add interest and hint at the uniform being sewn together from printed cloth instead of camo being painted on afterwards like with the British Denison Smocks for example

Step 3:
Now dark spots are randomly applied next and partially on top of the light spots using AC Fieldgrey 2nd Shadow. Any other dark-greyish green can be used just as well. Don't use pure black though as the contrast would be too stark

Step 4:
Now the last layer of bigger splodges is applied using VMC 70.881 Yellow Green. As before make sure not to cover your black lining but instead let the different coloured spots slightly overlap

Step 5:
Now comes the fun part. The small dots. Using a brush with a sharp tip I painted small dots of VMC 70.871 Leather Brown over the brighter (i.e. Sand Brown and Yellow Green) spots. Don't bother with spots on the Dark Green as they'd disappear due to lack of contrast

Step 6:
This is followed by small dots of AC Fieldgrey 2nd Shadow. Don't over do it as less is sometimes more

Step 7:
Now in a final step small dots of VMC 70.876 Brown Sand and VMC 70.857 Golden Yellow are painted on top of the darker areas. It's not necessary to paint dots on the brighter areas as with the dark spots before these would disappear do to lack of contrast.

So, there you go! Quick and easy Pea Dot pattern camouflage for your SS thugs.

I hope this short guide was of use to some of you. As ever, should there be any questions or you'd want me to do a specific Colour Guide just let me know in the comments below.


  1. Another fantastic addition to your comprehensive WWII painting tutorials!


  2. Superb Nick, thank you! I have been using your Splinter Pattern Camouflage guide this week on the same miniatures, which seems to be working well. Would the splinter have been more prolific? I am using it for the castle defenders, which happen to be the new Empress Miniatures, so a unit of veteran Wehrmacht.

    1. Thanks Michael! I'm not quite sure what you mean by more prolific. The Splinter was in its various incarnations only worn by Luftwaffe and Heer while the SS had their own camo schemes.

    2. Sorry Nick, that made a lot more sense to me when I wrote it. What I meant to ask was did the splinter pattern get used on a far wider range of different types of uniform and equipment? Still coming to terms with the different styles and patterns of German uniform so unsure which would be in what pattern?

    3. No problem Michael! I guess it also makes more sense as a native speaker.
      Well as far as Splittertarn goes I think there’s almost nothing that hasn’t been made in that particular camo. Officially it was used for Zeltbahnen, helmet covers, Fallschirmjäger and Luftwaffenfelddivision smocks and some other industrially produced pieces. But the so called Feldschneider (literally field or campaign dressmaker) of each unit used the Zeltbahn to tailor virtually anything a soldier might require. The same would be true for other camouflage schemes which were printed on Zeltbahn cloth like the SS Oak Leaf Pattern. Most Wehrmacht units/ officers were surprisingly lenient in regards to dress regulations.

    4. Thank you so much Nick, absolutely fascinating.

  3. Wow thats was a easy solution to what seems to be a complexed pattern, thanks Nick,
    cheers John

  4. Looks great.. now what happens when you apply a wash of agrax earthshade? :)

    1. Thanks Doug! Now, I'd assume it'd look a little dirty without going to re-highlight the raised areas.

  5. Most excellent Nick, looks spot on.

  6. The camo looks incredible. So much detail. Let me clarify ... insanely clear details at such small scale. Unbelievable ... in a good way.

  7. Must give this a go one day, seems like a straightforward method to achieve what is a dauntingly complex pattern, and despite its relative rarity, the camo everyone thinks of when they think of the SS.

  8. Another camo masterclass! Thanks!
    Best Iain

  9. An excellent tutorial once again Nick and will be logged as a go to when I next paint camo. You should do a book you know.

  10. Very nice tutorial and the result is great! Thankyou Nick