Introduction: How to Paint Camouflage

Picture of How to Paint Camouflage

I will show you my method for easily painting camouflage on nearly any surface with cheap spray paint.

You will need three colors of paint in a motif that will fit your surroundings.

I strongly recommend flat or satin finishes. Try to avoid high gloss that might be reflective.

I am using green, tan, and black. I will be painting some military surplus ammo cans to be used for geocaching.

You may also wish to clear coat your work when done and for metals it is recommended to primer the surface before painting.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials

Gather your materials:

Spray paint


Something to paint

I am painting an ammo can purchased at my local military surplus store. The paint is in three colors. I am also using primer and a clear coat on the ammo cans. I will also need sand paper to prep the ammo cans.

Step 2: Prep the Surface

Picture of Prep the Surface

I prepped the ammo cans for painting by sanding any rust and old paint from them, then I primered them with spay primer.

The lids of the ammo cans slide off the half barrel hinges easily making them easier to prep and paint.

Step 3: Start Painting

Picture of Start Painting

I painted the entire surface of the ammo cans forest green in one raven coat.

Step 4: Add Leaves, Paint

Picture of Add Leaves, Paint

Next I laid leaves on the surface and gave short blast of tan paint to the edges of the leaves. This leaves an outline of the leaves with a foggy edge to the tan color.

Step 5: Change Colors, Repeat

Picture of Change Colors, Repeat

Repeat this process of giving short blast of color about the edges of the leaves with another color. I try to keep the leaves laying in a different orientation than the last time. I also like to have them overlap the previous outlines some too. For my last color I used black.

Step 6: Finish Your Project

Picture of Finish Your Project

I finished up with a clear coat to hopefully better protect my paint job.

Lastly go out and use you newly camouflaged toy. I am using these ammo cans for geocache containers, hopefully for a night cache.

Have fun and be safe.


CalebGreer made it! (author)2017-06-03

I've had a plastic ammo can for awhile and wanted to use it to hold by BBs. OD Green is lame, Green/Black/Tan Camo is not lame. I am definitely going to be using these techniques in the future.

KurtC23 (author)2016-07-21

Can i use acrylic paints?

darrenhall (author)2016-02-19

Great Instructable , have a friend who shoots, he will love this as he has always wanted camo equipment.

Don't know if this will be of interest but a Facebook page has been put up called. INSTRUCTABLES PROJECT CHAT - I am always interested in the back story to a persons build and thought this might be a nice way for folks to.
Tell their project back story.
Get quick feedback and help with build issues.
Let others see how excited builders are about their new projects, where they are now, where they are heading.

Hope to see ya around some time.

riff raff (author)2014-10-06

"Spay primer." I used that on my cat. :)

Obot101 (author)2014-09-27

Where do you get so many? And where can I generally find some to buy/get?

SWV1787 (author)Obot1012014-09-27

I only have like 3 ammo cans, the pile of them is in the back room at my local military supply store.

to get them for yourself I would suggest checking the yellow pages for mulitary surpluss, camping supply, and other such outdoor stores. That or look online.

Obot101 (author)SWV17872014-10-05

XD Nice, I go to check it, they're down, but thanks for the link.

spylock (author)2014-09-24

I need to show how I do my camo on here,I do guns,bows,and the like for friends.Ive used this style before too when Im in a hurry.

kudzu63 (author)spylock2014-09-25

Is there anywhere that I can see what your camo looks like?? I'm looking to camo my golf cart with something a little better than this. Not that this doesn't look great. I just want something different.

burnerjack01 (author)kudzu632014-09-25

Want something "different" in camo for your golf cart? Look up "Dazzle Camo" used on surface vessels during WWII. That's about as 'different' as you can get! Wouldn't call it 'low vis', that's fer sure.

spylock (author)kudzu632014-09-25

Ill tell what I will do,if you can wait til the first of next week,this weekend I will wash a jon boat that Ive been meaning to camo.I will show you how I make the stencils,I will only need a couple,and theyre super easy,show you how to lay down the colors,and give you a couple of choices,I will also take a few photos.I dont claim to be the greatest,but Im not bad if I do say so my self.I didnt really want to do an Instructable,So if you can send me you email address at I will hook you up best I can,if thats cool.

ajarworks (author)2014-09-24

Great idea, love the use of leaves particularly as autumn (fall) is upon us.

I'm going to camouflage my wheelie-bin. Ugly thing.


Aristarxos (author)2014-09-23

Thank you for sharing this very interesting information

hooch_is82 (author)2014-09-21

Great ible. nice clean and precise. Gotta do something similar for geo caching with my scouts.

RangerJ (author)2014-09-21

Good job.

I would suggest using both flat and semi-gloss paint. After all, most leaves are slightly shiny. Especially on a larger object, the combination helps add a slight depth and fools the eye into thinking parts of it are closer or farther away. Perhaps one of the darker colors in semi-gloss and the rest flat, or as you prefer.

Just don't do it so perfectly that you can't find your ammo can.

eazyrider (author)2014-09-20

Thanks for showing this. After I saw the bugout bike I knew I wanted to do it, and know I know how to in a detailed and precise fashion :D. Now I just need to find some cool leaves.

awesomelumens (author)2014-09-20

very nice

watchmeflyy (author)2014-09-19

These look great!

jair3202 (author)2014-09-19

oh mah gawd exactly what i needed

3366carlos (author)2014-09-19


seamster (author)2014-09-19

Great technique. Very nicely done!

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