Breaking Up

In the great journey that is life, we meet so many people along the way. Work colleagues, friends, family, random people over the internet. For the most part, we make quick judgements on people without really getting to know them properly and often it never goes any further than that. There are always a handful though that you click with. Really click. People you get much closer to because you find yourself on the same wavelength, in the same places and circles. They’ll put as much effort into learning about you as you do them, and these are the people you really want to hold onto in life.

The ones you need to get rid of though, are the ones who don’t understand shape breakup in camouflage. As airsoft snipers, the whole point of all this camouflage development is to hide what we are in the eyes of the enemy. It isn’t to create a mini forest floor diorama on the back of your trousers. We have to break up our outlines, and that’s not just of the human body, but also our equipment. Imagine wearing a pair of flat green ear defenders (no, we wouldn’t in airsoft). It’s a solid, recognisable object with a distinct outline; it would get picked up pretty quickly regardless of the rest of your camouflage. Every item or part of us should be disguised so as not to look like whatever it is.

Breakup done well. A World War 1 technique called “dazzle camouflage”, which was developed originally by the Royal Navy. It doesn’t try to look like the sea, but does a really good job of confusing shape and size so that it’s hard to make out what you’re looking at. The pinnacle of what we do in airsoft is to combine this kind of shape breakup with the ability to blend into our environments by using materials of similar shape, size and colour.

This is where pattern becomes important, and not just a random mess of materials, as much as being random feels like it makes sense. It’s a bit like when you’ve had too much to drink, and end up on the floor looking at grey carpet up close. It’s actually made from loads of different colours, like blues and whites and blacks and often some red. But at a distance, it all blends into one mass of grey. That’s the effect of old string ghillies that are made of lots of different coloured threads, added in mixed bunches. At close range, perhaps on the dining room table as you build it, it looks ok. Testing out at different distances though will reveal that it also blends into one big solid mass.

Macro pattern is your friend here.

I’m sure this pic crops up every ten blogs or so, but it illustrates a really good point. Macro pattern works for breakup. This is the reason leaf suits and string ghillies are so limited, because they can’t do macro well if at all. Even if you have a leaf suit and glue 8,000 leaves on it, it doesn’t create shape breakup – it just adds a texture over the top.

To go back to disguising objects, this is why you also need to put the effort in on your boots, gloves, scope, belt straps, face mask, eye pro, apple watch and whatever else you’re carrying. You need to hide the recognisable shapes. One of the more difficult ones to do, and the one that actually sparked me to write this blog, is the rifle. Although there have been improvements lately and the whole “youtuber branded black rifle” trend is waning, in recent weeks I’ve seen a resurgence on facebook groups of people going back to the old trick of disguising their rifles as tree branches, using modelling clay, carved wood stocks (great attempt though), scapa tape and some look just like they’ve been painted in that effect.

When I was growing up, I had two younger brothers. I remember playing in the woods once and one of them being grabbed by an angry landowner who thought the stick he was carrying at a distance looked like a gun, and thought he was a very young poacher. Now, if we’re making guns look like branches, consider this from a distance;

You’ve just made your long, thin, rifle shaped object look like another long, thin, rifle shaped object. But textured. and with a couple of leaves on it.

Think about what that might appear to be at a distance. Has the shape been broken up? Can you make it out?


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