This instructable will illustrate the steps one should take to create a pine needle camouflage pattern by using spray paint. Pine straw camo is great for paint ball, hunters, camping, birdwatching, or any situation in which you wish to conceal something in a pineland/scrub/brush setting. This is not my original idea, in fact you can find something similiar all over the net. Special thanks to the guys at arfcom for the inspiration.
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Step 1: Gather Materials
Spray paint :: (colors of your choosing, I recommend greens, browns, and other earth tones, the rust color below looks just like a pine needle.) I used Rustoleum's camo colors for obvious reasons, but most important feature to look for is an ultra-flat or matte paint.
Pine needles:: The most important material in this instructable. get enough to fully cover the object to be painted. In this example it is a paint ball hopper and a 7.62x39 magazine. You can choose to quickly grab pine needles off the ground, leaving whatever leaves, sticks and other vegetation might be stuck to them, or clean the and bundle them neatly, it's your call. One yields more masking surfaces, the latter yields a cleaner more sharply defined line.
Object to be painted:: In this case a paintball hopper and a AK Mag.
Pizza box, newspaper or other barrier:: To catch overspray.
Dust Mask- Think Safety
Razor-For Trim work
Fishing line- To hang parts to dry.
Sandpaper- to rough up surfaces
Step 2: Prepare Surfaces
Prepare all surfaces to be painted.
Lightly rough up shiny surfaces.
Degrease, wash, and otherwise clean the surface for best paint adhesion.
Mask surfaces that won't be painted.
Prep pineneedles if you so desire, by cleaning and separating out only pine needles.
Set your spray booth/newspaper/pizzabox or otherwise up and prepare to spray.
Plastic Surfaces:: Now is the time to use the plastic primer, spray 2 light coats of primer on your object so that the surface is covered. There's no need to pile the primer on. You may choose to prime other surfaces, but keep in mind that your trying to get an ultra-dull finish in the end.
Also, If you haven't done so go outside and pickup your pineneedles.
Step 3: Base Coat
Lay down an even base coat to all sides of your work piece. I found it's easier and less time consuming to simply hang the piece and evenly spray from all sides. Light coats work best so don't rush it! Everyone hates sanding bubbles and runs, so take your time, the base coat is the most important in this setup.
Also be sure to remember that the base color will be the color of the "needle" in the final product. Since I am in West Central Florida, Pine needles on the ground are typically this brown/rust color, as such I wanted my needles that same color. Be sure to plan your colors out ahead of time, typically working from light to dark, or dominant color to less dominant.
Step 4: Second Color
This step will create your first set of needle outlines, and is probably the second most gratifying step in the whole process.
This will be your second most dominant color, so lay down a few (the least of all the steps) needles across the work piece. It is imperative that the needles be pressed against the work piece otherwise your lines will be blurry. Use your judgement on how many needles you want to use, heck practice on the pizza box. Use just enough needles to still see your base color.
Spray in even quick strokes across the work piece. You should use crosshatching (XX) spray patterns or slashes (/) to lay the paint down. In doing so you'll create the camo pattern interleaves.
Note: I sprayed the Tan color in the pics below all around because I wanted to lighten the piece up. Ordinarily I would Slash.
Step 5: Third, Fourth, and Fifth Colors.
Add more pine needles and spray using a slash pattern, the third color should use less strokes than the second, the fourth color even less and so on... adding needles lets less paint through, so the last color should be the one you want the least of.
As a matter of preference you can choose to leave the original needles on or remove them after each step, If I had to do it again I would have made the original pattern tighter and left them on and added needles for each color. In fact the AK Mag was done this way and I liked the results better, they didn't show up on film but the finished product looks amazing in person.
After you've finished one side, do the other, don't worry about exact pattern match, remember if you look at the brush there's all kinds of shading, colors and light that changes the way you perceive that environment this adds that effect.
Remember if you don't like your pattern, paint the base on and start over. This is really easy to do and change so have fun!
I've included some other early works, as I write this I have a Mask that is drying and I will include pics later.
Please add questions, comments and pics of your jobs too!