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6 Monday, July 16 2012

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THE NEW PAPER

News

Hiding for pixels unfair
US-based expert defends pixelated, digital camo uniforms
WHERE’S WALLY?
Despite the US Army’s reported plans to ditch the pixelated digital camo design, the SAF is confident its uniforms are effective in making its troops harder to spot.
PICTURE: ST FILE

REPORT: BENSON ANG
bang@sph.com.sg

s Research can take weeks or months, depending on the nature of the project.

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HREE weeks ago,the US Army said it was planning to ditch the pixelated “digital camouflage” uniform. This came after reports that the uniform does not give its troops good cover in warzones. Some here too then wondered about the effectiveness of the uniform, which is similar to the one used by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). The SAF responded that the pixelated design of its uniforms is effective in making its troops harder to spot. Now, a US-based camouflage expert has spoken up for the design, saying that it is as effective, if not more, than other patterns. A pixelated camouflage pattern consists of many small squares and other geometric shapes. The expert’s comments come in the wake of news last month that the US Army is said to be ditching its grey-green digital camouflage, known as the Universal Camouflage Pattern, for a greenish, blended one called MultiCam . Responding to queries, some creators of camouflage designs said it is wrong to dismiss outright pixelated patterns as ineffective. Mr Guy Cramer, president and chief executive officer of HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp, referred The New Paper to his blog, where he mentions how the pixelated uniform controversy has hit Singapore. He also defends the pattern in his post. “(The) digital (design) works because it breaks up straight lines while also creating background ‘noise’ and allows for colours to mix, leading to a more natural effect at proper viewing distances,” he wrote. Mr Cramer, who has developed over 10,000 military camouflage patterns, pointed out that pixelated patterns have come out tops in US Army tests involving woodland, desert and mountainous terrains. But there is no one camouflage that can work in all environments, he wrote. Mr Lawrence Holsworth, the marketing director for

Step 2: Create the pattern
Method 1: Break up a solid colour
s Can be accomplished by brushing, spray painting or applying dye directly on the uniform. s Used during World War I and for Pathfinders in US airborne divisions during World War II.

Method 2: Disrupt the wearer’s shape

MULTIFACETED: Mr Lawrence Holsworth, the
marketing director for a camouflage design and manufacturing company, says many factors go into the creation of camouflage patterns.
PICTURE COURTESY OF LAWRENCE HOLSWORTH

Hyde Definition, which designs and manufactures camouflage patterns, said many factors go into the creation of a military camouflage pattern. He gives us a how-to guide on creating such patterns for stealth and secrecy:

s Use artistic methods to mix colours and shapes to disrupt the shape of the wearer. s Can be done either by hand for an “analogue” pattern, or by using computer software for a “digital” one. Many digital patterns are pixelated. s A scientific approach can also be used, which involves more thorough and focused research and analysis. The resultant pattern should be more effective and better suited to the colour spectrum and textures of the operating environment.

Method 3: Mimic the vegetation or terrain
s Create a pattern based on reproducing the typical vegetation and colours of the environment. s Similar to the “sticks-and-leaves” camouflage used by hunters and outdoorsmen.

The ideal pattern:
s Must blend in with the colours, tones and textures of the environment where the soldiers operate in. s Must also disrupt the identifiable shape of the person or object that has been camouflaged. s Can be of a verdant, arid, arctic, urban or multi-terrain pattern.

Step 3: Test the pattern
s Place the pattern, or people dressed in it, at set distances. s Measure how long it takes for an observer to spot the object or person. s Repeat the procedure in various environments and under different lighting conditions to get an overall result. s Adjust the optimal combination of colour, geometry, scale and texture for the target environment. s Photo simulation can also be used to provide more controlled testing and a greater number of observers. s Different countries and research organisations have come up with different evaluating systems. A consistent set of standards and protocol was recently agreed upon by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries.

Step 1: Research
s Analyse the environment where the pattern needs to work. s Observe and photograph the terrain, and analyse it for colours and textures. s Collect physical samples of vegetation in the area. s Analyse other patterns that might be used in the area, like those of friends and foes.

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