Both predators and prey throughout the entire animal kingdom utilize these elements of camouflage to disguise themselves. As hunters with a passion for the animals we target, we drew inspiration from some of these perfected hunting machines. Big cats are probably the best example of ungulate hunters and it is fascinating to see that they predominantly use two different methods of concealment. For example, Tigers use a macro or “broad range” pattern to conceal themselves. Their hunting style is more of a stalking method. This means that at a longer distance the tiger needs to be hidden as he closes the gap, much like a spot and stalk bow hunter. The leopard on the other hand uses a micro or “narrow range” pattern. Their hunting style is quite different in that they ambush their prey. They sit down tight and hide until the victim is close at which time they pounce. This hunting style could be compared to a hunter calling in close quarter rutting deer or tree stand hunting.
Combining these two styles of camouflage provides the deception of true position as it plays with the perception of depth. Macro patterns can be thought of as the big chunks in the pattern. These are the most important parts as they are the ones that break up the outline from about 20 meters away and beyond. The Micro patterns are the small pieces of the pattern. These are used to for primarily to add detail for when the subject is close and to add the natural intricacy of the environment. This is effectively used to break up the outlines of the Macro patterns, as if smaller objects were closer in range than the larger ones.
With all this research behind us we proceeded to experiment with a large number of patterns that followed the principals of contrasting Micro and Macro patterns. We drew up a large grid template and experimented with different ratios of Micro and Macro patterns until we had a spread of three variants, one with more micro that macro, one about 50/50 and one with more macro than micro. These were then taken to the field for the initial testing phase. Three basic shades of green and brown were used initially with the intention of fine tuning later. We photographed the three patterns at varying distances of 20m, 50m, 100m and 300m, in three common and contrasting hunting terrains; forest, riverbed and open tops.
These images were then filtered with a series of blurring effects to replicate their lesser definition. Knowing what we learnt about the ungulates vision of colour, we removed the red colour spectrum to as close as we could determine an ungulate would see. From here we had a series of “animal vision” images that we could compare to determine the best at silhouette (outline) disruption. These blind tests quickly revealed that our 50/50 mix pattern was the best at creating this effect. With a few fine tweaks we had our first pattern ready for the next, more in-depth, testing phase.
Now that we had our first pattern established the next step was to head back out into the field and experiment with it. We printed the pattern on large sheets on fabric and took them into the hills. We explored wrapping the sheets around trees, rocks, people and so on and viewed these from a number of different angles, in a large variety of terrains and backdrops, at varying distances. We photographed and filmed all of this so that we could later apply our animal vision filters to it.
A few things became apparent from in this second stage of testing which led us to develop the pattern further. First, we wanted to experiment with another size layer in our pattern. Something that would fit between the Micro and Macro size for a specific distance. At around 25m - 35m we felt the Micro was not quite doing enough to break up the Macro edges. Next, we needed to fine tune the colours to experiment with contrast. Contrary to mimicry patterns, the disruption pattern needs to be quite high contrast to give the illusion that two parts of the pattern are two different objects at different distances. We also decided to introduce a shadow element to our macro parts to help further this illusion of depth.
As we were now starting to really fine tune the pattern, we created another series of samples with the most promising shades for further field testing. We followed the previous steps of testing in different terrains, light, distances and angles, and also started conducting some blind “Where’s Wally” type tests. From the countless hours poured into this testing we finally were able to proudly produce the Desolve Veil camouflage pattern.