How to Paint Tiger Camo

Updated July 20, 2017

Tiger camo, or tigerstripe, is a type of camouflage that originated during the Vietnam War, so named because of its similarity to the stripes of a tiger, which help camouflage the animal in jungle environments. Although never officially used by the United States armed forces, it continues to be widely used in theatres of war around the world. Painting tiger camo yourself--on a gun, on boots, on clothing or on a vehicle--is relatively easy and takes but a few simple steps.

Paint a base colour layer onto the object you want to cover in tiger camo. This first colour layer will eventually be the colour of the tiger stripes themselves. If the object you're painting is the colour you wish the stripes to be, you can skip this step.

Wait for the base layer of paint to dry completely. If you try to rush through this step, your stripes will come out spotty, so give the paint a full day to dry if needed. If you are in a hurry, use spray paint, which will dry more quickly.

Apply strips of masking tape to the object you are painting in the shapes of tiger stripes. Make sure to vary the width and length, and try to get sharp points at the ends of the stripes. Keep in mind that the tape is masking what will eventually be the stripes themselves, so the colours will look inverted: your tape covers the base colour, which will make up the stripes, while the paint still showing will eventually be a different colour.

Paint a second colour layer onto your item. This colour will serve as the background field to the stripes. Most commonly the background for tiger camo is a light green, but you may wish to experiment with brown, grey or any number of other colours.

Wait for the second layer of paint to dry completely.

Remove the tape, revealing the original base layer in the shape of tiger stripes.


You can also create a three-toned pattern, such as light-green, black, and brown: After Step 3, paint on a colour that you want to serve as a minor tone, such as brown, let it dry, and then mask over that with especially thin pieces of masking tape. Continue on to the next steps as instructed.

Things You'll Need

  • Masking tape
  • Paint
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Situated on the beautiful Mendocino Coast in Northern California, Brendan McGuigan has been writing professionally since 2003. His articles have appeared in "Pology," "San Francisco Restaurant Review," 1001 Beautiful Sights and Visual Travel Tours. He studied linguistics and phonology at Goddard College.