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Brushstroke Camouflage

"Brushstroke" camouflage is one of the earliest designs known, and is considered a foundational concept from which many other patterns later sprung. It was the British Army, specifically a Major Denison, that formulated the idea of using large mop-like brushes to paint over a standard khaki colored heavy cotton smock to create an effective camouflage for issue to British Army paratroopers operating behind enemy lines. The term "brushstroke" refers to the painted strokes of these large brushes, which created wide swathes of color, usually with thinner trails leading off where the strokes were begun. The original Denison smocks were in fact hand-painted using non-colorfast dyes, but in time the process of screenprinting was implemented leading to much more efficient production of the textiles. The British continued to utilize brushstroke pattern camouflage for their paratrooper smocks into the 1960s, and during the war also developed a lightweight uniform printed in a pink or reddish-hued camouflage designed for Infantry personnel in Europe towards the end of the war. Both patterns were subsequently copied by various countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, but were also influential in the development of derivative designs such as the French "lizard" and Vietnamese "tiger stripe" designs. Indeed, most striped or brush pattern camouflage designs trace their origins to the original British design, which has probably been one of the most influential camouflage patterns ever created.

  • The original "brushstroke" pattern from the Second World War is seen here. This is from a 2nd pattern Denison smock.


  • Another early British "brushstroke" design is from the 1942 pattern Windproof uniform. The design was printed using a roller process and the tones were distinctively pinkish.


  • British Denison smock "brushstroke" patterns from the 1950s and 1960s.

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  • Belgian "brushstroke" design from the 1950s.


  • French "lizard" camouflage from 1952. On this early version you can plainly see how lizard was derived from "brushstroke."


  • South Vietnamese Airborne camouflage pattern, from the early 1960s. This version was directly patterned after the 1942 windproof camouflage.


  • Indian brushstroke designs from the 1970s.

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  • An interesting variation of the "brushstroke" theme from New Zealand, dating to the 1970s. Printed on waterproof fabric, this is from a basha or utilitarian tarp used for shelters or other purposes.


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  • An Indonesian "brushstroke" pattern from the 1970s, worn by the Marines.


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  • The Philippine camouflage designs seen here were patterned after the ARVN "pinks" design, which in turn was based on the WW2 British windproof camouflage.

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  • Some different colored "brushstroke" patterns worn by Iraq.

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  • An odd "brushstroke" pattern developed for Jordan in the 1970s.