Let's Try Something New - Part Five

While looking for the best camouflage print for our post apocalypse utility fashion collection, I remembered an art school lecture on the topic that I though might make an interesting summary.

The most common of camouflage tactics is background matching ... camouflage is all about blending into the background using colour and shape.

In regards to colour, if you're in the jungle that's going to be a darker green. If you're in a sandy desert/grassland that's going to be a sand colour with black flecks. If you're on the ocean then it's blues ... those are the natural environments. There's also unnatural urban environments ... urban camo would be various shades of black and gray ... concrete and steel.

Shape is about matching each unit of colour in the camouflage to the size and shape of the same element in the background. For example, you want to try and match the size of leaves or branches ... you don't want them bigger or smaller or they'd stand out even if you had a good colour match ... the eye searches for differences and draws outlines .... camouflage is about making that all too difficult.

Urban camouflage is the most difficult to achieve for a number of reasons. Firstly it's the environment we're all most familiar with ... anything that's not normal we can pick up rapidly. Secondly, we're a lot more ordered and regular than nature ... we have very little variation in our background ... it's regular and linear making movement across it very difficult. In an urban setting you probably don't want to use organic (curvy) shapes in your camouflage ... instead you'd use darker colours with a touch of linear patterning ... and go at night!

Then there's the whole issue of outline. Animals are each a certain size and outline, well known to their predators. Some animals, like the leafy sea dragon, masks it's true identity with leafy looking appendages that detract from a clear outline and help it blend in among leafy sea plants. I have no idea how we'd achieve that in an urban environment beyond trying to disguise ourselves as a fire hydrant, rubbish bin or magazine stand ... more evidence for going at night and hiding behind things.

I've included a few photos from National Geographic because who doesn't like a little look at nature now and then.

There's also another type of camouflage that fascinates me. Herd confusion. A lone Zebra standing in grass is very easily spotted ... but in a herd of them moving quickly and changing directions, it's almost impossible to see where one zebra ends and another begins because their stripes are mostly vertical. The result of millions of years of evolution.

Have you ever noticed in all these end of the world apocalypse type movies that everyone is dressed either in rags and torn clothes or in an abundance of mesh, metal and leather? This is Hollywood trying to tell us who is weak cannon fodder and who is in charge. But there's a very natural hint about camouflage in that too. Nobody pays attention to the weak because they aren't a threat ... so ragged clothing in and of itself is a type of camouflage ... and if you look at post apocalypse fashions on the internet, the majority are ragged draped sheet type clothing without any shape or coloring, there are generally no clear hems or seam lines either ... but that's also supposed to symbolize "worn and torn".

So what type of camouflage (if any) are we looking for? Urban/slightly vegetated (weeds and grasses growing wild in the carless streets). What style? Organic, geometric, linear, digital? To get in on this conversation you'll need to join our Facebook Group.

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