Making Your Own Camouflage Profiles
by: Peter Allen
While working on Part 3 of the Luft 46 Camouflage Colours Applications Feature it occurred to me some of you might like to try and do some of your own profiles. In some cases it could prove useful for example, trying out a more unusual camouflage scheme before you commit to plastic, paint and decals. So I’ll take a breather on Part 3 and try and explain how I do the supporting profiles. With a bit of practice you can create them on your computer.
I will go through a step-by-step example using Photoshop and Freehand, although similar steps can be carried out using Illustrator.
Please Note: I am not a computer illustrator expert and there are probably better methods and short cuts or techniques that I have yet to learn, but what follows is how I do it.
To familiarise the tools please check out the first two panels.
PICTURES 1 and 2.
Phase 1. Getting Started
The first thing you need is a schematic, either scan one from a book or from the kit instructions or download one from the net. I don’t think there will be a copyright issue as you will not use any “borrowed” image in the final piece of work.
It’s easier if you can find one without camouflage. For this feature I will use the Blohm and Voss P211.01, as our aircraft. Once you have the basic schematic, then...
Phase 2. FREEHAND
1. Take it into Photoshop and check and if necessary adjust the angle. You want the vertical centre line to be dead straight. Make it 200 resolution in the Image Size panel and save as a “.eps”.
2. Open a new file in Freehand and fix the page at A3 landscape and in millimetres, or inches if you so wish.
3. Now import the .eps schematic and enlarge to the required size on the A3 page.
Now you are ready to re-draw the schematic as a “keyline” illustration.
We will start with the top plan view.
4. First add a guide line to the dead vertical centre. Click on the pen-nib tool and starting with the top plan view, carefully draw around the outline of the entire aircraft’s outside edge. At this stage I use a red line so its easier to see. You can adjust the final line to your liking. SAVE.
5. Copy the first keyline and put aside. Then go back to the original first keyline over the schematic and continue to trace details using the pen nib and line tools. When complete highlight all, and group. Be careful not to include the schematic image below. SAVE! Put aside.
6. Now we can prepare the first two key illustrations. First take the outer keyline and change the keyline to black and make the line thickness 0.2 mm. Then do the same for the top detail keyline illustration.
Copy the first outer keyline and make inside the line white. Copy again and make the inside 20% black with no black keyline. Place the 20% black exactly over the white with black keyline copy. Now using the Smudge tool pull the highlighted 20% black copy down and to the right at approx 45 degrees to give a shadow effect. Send the shadow to back. SAVE!
PICTURES 6 and 7.
At this point we can take stock of what so far we have got. We should now have:
A. a basic outer keyline shape of the aircraft top plan with the keyline in black at a thickness of 0.2mm.
B. a detailed keyline top plan again in black at a thickness of 0.2mm.
C. a white fill with black outline key with 20% black shadow.
7. Now we repeat all steps above and do the side profile in exactly the same way.
We should now have:
D. a basic black outer keyline of the overall side of the aircraft.
E. a detailed side profile.
8. I have included a guide for making wheels as follows:
A. Using the circle tool draw three circles inside each other and use the align tool to get them all centred. Then add a guide at the base of the outer circle and using the knife tool set on “straight” cut the bottom along the guide and discard the cut piece.
B. Using the line tool draw a line along the guide to give a flat bottom to the outer circle.
C. When the points align with those at the bottom ends of the cut outer circle, join them.
D, E,F. Next we can add detail by placing very small circles around the inner circle.
G. When complete, colour using highlight and graduation tools.
I have also included a few items we will need to add markings and insignia, all drawn on Freehand.
9. Now we are ready to take these elements into photoshop to colour and mark our profile.
First we need to export each element separately as Freehand .eps files.
Phase 3. PHOTOSHOP
1. Open a new file in Photoshop at 20cm x 20 cm setting the background colour as white.
2. Open from Photoshop the .eps file of the top outer key with shadow. Drag the image onto your new white background file. Adjust position to your liking.
3. Add the top detail in the same way and position exactly over the top outer key with shadow.
4. Continue by adding the side detail key image and the side outer key until all main elements are in place.
5. Make sure at this stage to save the file. Then make sure the top shadow key is below the top detail key image and likewise the side outer key is below the side detail image. You can adjust this in the layers panel.
6. Now we can start adding colour. To mix colours, click on the colour square in the tool box and a colour selector panel will open. Here you can pick a colour and adjust it using the cyan, magenta, yellow and black percentage bars. When you are happy with the colour, in this case a representation of RLM 76, click out and the selected colour will be in the top colour square in the toolbox.
7. Having made sure the top outer shadow key is below the top detail layer, highlight the layer of the outer shadow key in the layers panel. Now select the magic wand tool and click over the top profile image. The outer edge of the aircraft shape should now start pulsing with a dotted line.
8, Now select the airbrush tool and adjust the brush size and pressure and start spraying.
9. When happy with the first colour, mix, in this case RLM 82, and apply. Follow this by adding a mixed RLM 81.
Carry out the same procedures with the side key elements.
PICTURES 13 and 14.
10. Once all the main colours have been applied to your satisfaction we are ready to add shading, detail and markings.
Select the top detail layer in the layers panel. Then click over the glazed areas of the canopy with the magic wand tool. You can highlight more than one area by holding down shift while you click with the magic wand. Then go to the paths panel and click on “make selection”. Now using the airbrush colour the canopy. On the top view some of the dark cockpit interior would show through so I blow in some very dark blue/grey on the right side and white on the left side. Add a touch of light blue for effect. SAVE.
(If the magic wand does not highlight the desired areas, re-open the corresponding .eps file and drag the image again onto the piece being worked on and try again).
Repeat for side profile canopy but use lighter shades.
First select the top detail layer and this time select the pen nib path tool and draw out the area then adjust with the path arrow tool then go to the path panel and select “make selection” and colour in.
13. Coloured Band.
Do this the same way as for exhausts.
14. Insignia and Markings.
Any markings you make in Freehand export individually as .eps files and open in photoshop and drag onto the main work piece. Adjust size and angle to suit.
15. Make colour swatches in Freehand and export as .eps file and place on master artwork as before.
16. Crop area to suit and flatten image.
Note: If anyone tries this and gets stuck, I'm always available and will help all I can.