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Work in Progress.  WW1 Roland D.VIa Painting by Ivan Berryman.

Details of the painting of the tricky WW1 German camouflage applied to a Roland D.VIa aircraft.


The Lozenge Pattern

I would imagine that every aviation artistís nightmare is the German lozenge printed fabric that adorned so many aircraft in the second half of World War 1. For modelers, itís a bit easier Ė buy the decal sheets and apply them where necessary. For artists, itís a bit more complicated than that and there is just no easy way of reproducing this pattern.

The problem is that this is a repeating pattern of fragmented shapes in a variety of colours. There were night patterns, underside patterns and upper-surface patterns in a number of different colour combinations. By and large, the shapes involved in each colour scheme remained the same, but it still represents a huge challenge to an artist because I have to make the patterned fabric conform to the perspective of the painting and follow the contours and shapes of the wings, tail and fuselage.



Photographs 1a and 1b show how I had to draw every shape of the pattern onto the tailplane and wings and carefully mark it with a code letter that represented a colour. You might think that you could get away with just randomly placing blobs of colour, but this just doesnít work. Believe me Ė Iíve tried it! What I did was to draw the pattern onto tracing paper and then, having laid down a base colour over the entire wing, transfer the coded pattern onto the painting itself, as in photograph 2


Of course, where there are control surfaces like, in this case, the elevators, the pattern has to be broken because these parts were covered with fabric separately at the factory, so the pattern never matched. Indeed, in some cases, the fabric was applied span-wise on the mainplanes and chord-wise on the ailerons and elevators.


Photograph 3 shows the start of the laborious task of applying the colours to each little shape, according to my code. In this case, I am applying all the dark greens first, then the lighter greens. In photograph 4, all the greens are done on the lower wing and wheel faring and the blue is being added. No other details are attempted at this stage Ė the object is simply to get the pattern laid down.



Now that all the surfaces are covered with the pattern and allowed to dry thoroughly, the cross can be applied to the upper wing, together with the white chevron that is broken only by the asymmetrically-placed radiator. At last, the relatively simple task of adding a sheen over the whole wing can be undertaken. This sheen is applied evenly over the entire wing area, then built up in certain places to indicate where the light is being reflected the most and to give a gentle curve to suggest an aerofoil shape. The addition of the rib tapes completes this effect and lends further perspective to the wings, as shown in photograph 5. Some shadowing is added to the lower wing where it passes beneath the fuselage and a slight reflection of the fin on the tailplane adds to the overall effect. Later in the painting, a similar technique is applied to the rudder, although, being on the shadow-side of the aircraft, darker colours are used before being given a glaze to key all the shapes together. The ribbing on the rudder is added after the cross before some weathering and details are painted in to complete the process.


The finished painting is shown in photograph 6. Itís been laborious, but well worth the effort!

The Completed Painting..

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