Creating a 3-Tone Normandy Camo Helmet

WW2 German M42 Helmet with 3-Tone Normandy Camo

One of our more popular additions to the Website in the last couple of years are our range of custom helmets, which includes this impressive German M42 in a Normandy 3-Tone Camo, with an optional Sandy finish. Here we tell you about the process we use to make them, with some great tips and hints in case you want to try one yourself!

Items needed for your Normandy Helmet:

Spray Paints:

Optional Items:

  • Grey Primer (for the best finish)
  • Fine grit/sand or Aluminium Oxide (standard grit – for the Sandy effect)
  • Rubber gloves (for applying the grit for the Sandy effect)

Step 1

To begin with, you need to make sure the helmet is free of dirt and dust. Use a cloth or tea towel to do this.

WW2 German Sanded Helmet
WW2 German Helmet after being sanded

Step 2

The next step is to sand down the Helmet finish, to make sure you get the best possible finish with the paint later on. Use the wet & dry paper/sandpaper on the top layer of the existing paint, using a soft forwards and backwards motion. Depending on the finish of the helmet, it may already have a thin or thick layer of lacquer/varnish on it. You want this to ‘dull down’ and ‘rough up’ a bit, which will help ‘key in’ the paint later on and give it a much better finish. Once you have finished sanding it down, give the helmet another overall wipe with a cloth to rid the dust. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!

Step 3 (Optional)

If you wish, you can now apply a layer of Primer. This isn’t essential, as the previous layer of paint can ‘act’ as a primer in itself, however it is recommended if you want to get the best finish possible. If you do decide to use a primer, make sure you apply in thin layers and do so evenly. Better to build it up, rather than have to remove some and start again! Instructions should be on your can of primer, but we suggest to wait between 12-24 hours before applying the next coat of primer or paint.

WW2 Helmet after 1 layer of primer
WW2 Helmet after 1 layer of Primer

Step 4

Once you are ready to proceed to the paint work, again, make sure the helmet is clean! For the first run of paint, use the Dark Yellow – Dunkelgelb. Apply this evenly all over the helmet.


If you want to give your helmet the rough ‘sand effect’ you will now need to do this stage (if not, then skip to stage 6). There are different techniques for applying the grit, but I have found this works the best (we recommend that you wear rubber gloves for this bit).

When you have applied the Dark Yellow paint, and while it is still wet, gently sprinkle the fine grit/sand, or the Aluminium Oxide all over the helmet. Gently spread it out evenly, using your fingers. If you find the paint starts drying out, just spray a bit more Dark yellow on the areas you want the grit, and carry on.

Different angles of the Helmet once painted if you're not going for the sandy effect
Different angles of the Helmet once painted if you’re not going for the Sandy Effect

REMEMBER IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT!! As long as there is a good, even coverage you will get a good finish. You may also want to do this stage with the helmet in a box or tub etc so you don’t make much of a mess, and you can always use the spare grit again if you end up being persuaded to make one for someone else from your group!

Let the paint dry which will act like a glue and ‘stick’ the grit to the helmet. When it is dry, give the helmet a shake and tap, to get some of the excess grit off. You can always use your finger as well, to ‘smooth’ it out a little if you wish.

Once you are happy, give the helmet another layer of the Dark Yellow and make sure the grit is covered properly. Get in all the awkward areas where the paint may not initially get to.

Step 6

Once your base coat of the Dark Yellow is dry and you are happy with it (again, make sure you leave it for 12-24 hours), you can now start with the camouflage pattern.

For our finish, we use the red/brown colour first. It is up to you how you do it – straight lines, curves, spots, etc. – its all about getting the design you want here. Take a look at original photos online, and get a feel for what you are after – research is key!

Step 7

Once the Red/Brown begins to dry, you can then begin to paint on using the Field Grey Paint.

The finished item
The finished item with Sandy Effect

Again, you can see the design we have gone for, but you might want something different – it is a custom spray after all!

TIP: As you paint using the sprays, move the cans closer and further away from the helmet to give it different finishes. In some areas you can have it quite thinner, lighter and spread out, and in others thicker, darker and more defined.

When you are happy with the Normandy pattern and finish, let the helmet dry completely (again, another 12-24 hours) before moving onto the next stage.

Step 8

First, double check that the helmet is dry! Then, using the Clear Coat Varnish, evenly spray a layer all over the helmet. This will not only give the paint a fantastic finish, but also help protect it.

Let it dry again, and VOILA – You now have a replica Normandy 3-Colour Camouflage Helmet!!!

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