Background on Traditional hunting camouflage
To the modern hunter, there is an overwhelming level of choice when it comes to hunting camouflage systems and designs. Most of the hunting camouflage patterns available today can loosely be separated into two categories; abstract and mimetic. To date the vast majority on offer by hunting apparel manufactures utilise the mimetic style, that is, these patterns are designed to mimic their surroundings. They are intended to disguise hunters within a specific habitat by blending them in amongst the natural setting. Most of these camouflages patterns will utilise elements from within the target environment such as branches, leaves, grass, sticks, etc. These photorealistic patterns can perform well at blending a hunter into their intended habitat; usually this will be timbered forest country owing to the assortment of picture like foliage within the design, but these can also range into grassland, wetlands, dense forest, etc. However, some of these patterns can often be less effective when removed from the target scene they are meant to mimic.
As distances increase, many mimetic designed camouflage patterns have a tendency to lose their fine photorealistic detail, while also falling into a state of isoluminant equilibrium. In this condition, the designs individual component colors, tone and texture become so equated that they visually take on the form of a solid color and luminance. Many hunters refer to this melding of tone and color as “blobbing out”. This phenomenon has the potential to expose the human outline to game animals in the form of a dark silhouette at medium to longer distances.
This simple example illustrates the working principle behind the macro pattern concept. In this demonstration we use basic geometric shapes comprising of circles, squares and rectangles. Note how the first object is easily recognisable as a circle and rectangle. While the second object creates visual confusion, giving the illusion of many small squares rather than a whole object.
Although less common, the other camouflage styles available that are still popular with a great deal of hunters are the patterns that have been created using an abstract design. These styles will often incorporate moderate to sizably proportional geometric or vector based shapes with contrasting color schemes. As many of these patterns generally do not contain tonal gradients or texture, they tend to lack the finer details associated with the mimetic styles. At close distances, the lack of texture makes many of these patterns less effective to express the finer details common to mimetic styled camouflage. However, as ranges increase (and this is also greatly dependant on the design, tonal luminance and spatial frequency employed) some of these abstract designs have the ability to disrupt the boundary recognition of a human silhouette through application of large contrasting pattern shape elements, often referred to as a macro pattern.
These abstract designed camouflage systems are not necessarily always created to blend or hide the hunter into their surroundings, but rather they are designed to deceive game animals into believing that what they are in fact looking at is not actually a threat. A single solid colored object can be readily recognisable, while a two toned object has the ability to create visual confusion. The contrasting borders between tonal groups can be perceived as natural boundaries. As such, game animals can be deceived into thinking they are looking at a clump of shapes, rather than a single solid mass.
The first image represents a typical mimetic camouflage pattern design, while the second demonstrates a simple abstract pattern design. Note the intricate detail within the mimetic camouflage that help this style blend in well at close distances, while the abstract pattern looks much less natural up close.
However, as we zoom out to represent longer distance the mimetic pattern is already beginning to isoluminate (blob out), while the abstract design demonstrates macro pattern boundary disruption (break up silhouette).
Camo that just works
The development of OmniVeil has been an ongoing process that has taken many years to achieve. There have been in excess of 60 versions created with over 20 costumes constructed to gauge environmental effectiveness. During the development phase we have created both pure mimetic, pure abstract and combination designs. All of our early patterns were created utilising mimetic paradigms, this proved to be constraining due to the simple fact that elements in the natural world follow certain basic rules. For example trees grow upwards, hanging leaves point downward, the sun casts shadows from above, etc. In keeping with this protocol, difficulty was experienced when trying to create a camouflage system that was capable to perform certain concealment objectives, while also attempting to make it look “natural”.
Doing away with old concepts
In creating Evade OmniVeil, our goal was to develop a total concealment camouflage solution for stalking hunters. A general-purpose multi terrain design that would benefit mobile hunters; who can often find themselves moving into different and varied surroundings during the course of a hunting day. We did not wish to link it to any specific habitat, thus also extending its versatility. From the outset it was our goal to develop a dual performance camouflage system, a concealment solution that could perform twin tasks. Blending capability to benefit hunters waiting in ambush, or within close vicinity hunting encounters. While also incorporating the ability to boundary disrupt the contour lines of a human silhouette to assist with none threat deception while stalking game.
In order to attempt achievement of these difficult objectives, we returned to the drawing board and began creating camouflage patterns from the ground up. Analysing some of our earlier designs and adopting their benefits, while also searching for insight. We soon realised that the use of photorealistic natural elements were not necessarily required to blend a pattern into natural bush like surroundings, as this could also be achieved in other ways. This insight created greater opportunity of a higher scope, for we were no longer constrained to follow certain natural looking lines. Liberated from this constraint, it would allow for the creation of a design that we could actually tailor to achieve our desired goals, rather than appear to look like a picture scene from a bush setting.
At its core Evade OmniVeil utilises an abstract designed concealment solution that has been built off an earth tone color palette, comprising of both dominant and accent pantones. It has been constructed to incorporate fine detail; thus providing blending capability at close hunting distances. These details appear as random tonal microstructures of varying size and scattered distribution. Although appearing random in nature, these pattern elements have been carefully placement mapped in order to achieve specific performance results. Each series comprises of a solid pantone; as such Evade OmniVeil does not contain any color or tonal gradients. Unlike many vector based abstract hunting patterns, we do not use smooth sharp lines to separate pattern colors. Evade OmniVeil incorporates scattered, unstructured, random sized dithering to achieve transitional separation, thus avoiding high contrast smooth lines; which can at times appear unnatural at close hunting distances.
Color partition is achieved through scattered, unstructured, random sized dithering to create transitional separation and a more organic, natural appearance.
These colored pattern microstructures have been matched with similar neighbouring random elements of specific color, tone and contrast. In this manner tonal clusters of irregularly shaped and colored canvas pattern elements are constructed, which creates an illusion of earth texture for increased blending capability. As distance increases, these tonal clusters have been structured to create two distinctive tonal groups, dim and pale. In order to understand the benefits of this, we need to revisit one the main drawbacks of mimetic camouflage, isoluminance. The melding of tone and color as distance increases to create the illusion of a single solid color.
We have created Evade OmniVeil to take advantage of the isoluminance phenomenon. As distance increases, the tonal and pantone pattern microstructure textures within the design that form dual tonal groups, dim and pale, are “intended” to isoluminate. In this manner we create a twin-toned boundary disrupting macro pattern at medium to longer ranges, while still retaining blending textures for close vicinity concealment.
During development and testing, we experimented with differing scaled macro pattern proportions, assessing performance over various but typical hunting distances. With Evade OmniVeil we have incorporated a medium to large scaled macro pattern with near optically equal spatial distribution, we found this scale provided the best all round boundary disrupting effect. However, we did feel that this generated a somewhat open pattern design for near vicinity concealment.
To assist with visual close distance macro pattern disruption, alternate toned stripes were overlayed onto the design. We experimented with various shapes to achieve the overall desired objective including both geometric and natural; finally inspiration came from one of the world’s most lethal predators boundary disrupting concealment advantages, the high contrast macro pattern stripes of the Asiatic jungle tiger. In keeping with the random motif of the camouflage design, the scaled down alternate toned predator stripes have been carefully placement mapped in a visually random and unorderly manner. In doing so we add another layer of concealment to the design in the form of enhanced pattern disruption.
Creating multi terrain camouflage solutions does present certain difficulties. We have long realised that the ability to blend into every conceivable natural environmental setting with a single camouflage design is unachievable if not impossible. The variables are just too great. For example, patterns that perform well in a dimly lit low contrast rainforest habitat would not be expected to perform very well in open brightly lit grassland or desert environments, with the opposite also to be expected.
To tackle this difficulty, Evade OmniVeil has been created to blend into varied habitats, the use of random tonal pattern microstructures and disruption elements do not link it to any specific background, allowing for adaptation into multiple environments. Should a scenario arise whereby the ability of the camouflage system to blend into its surroundings is compromised, it utilizes the boundary disrupting fall-back design feature to then break up the human outline through the macro pattern principle. Thus still providing a degree of concealment in the form of boundary disruption, even if it is incapable to completely blend into its surroundings.
This example demonstrates a hunter crossing a mountain clearing. In this scenario the camouflage pattern is incapable to blend the hunter into his surroundings, however the isoluminance based macro pattern ensures boundary disrupting deception.
Evade OmniVeil has been designed and developed for the stalking hunter, a camouflage solution for the hunter who moves through his hunting environment. Pattern disruption and texture enable blending concealment for close vicinity encounters or ambush hunting situations, while macro pattern performance limits outline boundary detection to enhance visual recognition deception while stalking game. It has been created to provide camouflage throughout a wide variety of habitats, thus making its use not only versatile but also of economic benefit, and negating the need for multiple purchases of habitat specific solutions.