Balancing macro and micro patterns on a ghillie suit

As sniper, shape and shape breakup are fundamental to the success of a ghillie suit and also the camouflaging of all kit and components. In previous blogs, I’ve talked about how micro patterns alone cause “blobbing” at ten metres plus, where the detail is too small for the eye to see and blends into one solid mass.

It’s the same as how this grey carpet works – if you look at it from a couple of metres away it appears as one flat colour, unless you’ve spilled bbq sauce on it or something. This is why macro, or large shape patterns, are important, so that the eye can still recognise them from a distance. A classic example would be US Woodland, perhaps the most recognisable of macro patterns.

Nice big shapes and muted colours, with a good contrast between light, mid and dark shades, work very well in many environments. We would likely choose to enhance this flat surface by adding 3D elements such as Haloscreen, Nanoscreen or coloured cottons among others. The usual method is to apply colours to match the pattern underneath, ie brown on the brown areas, green on the green etc. The pattern underneath, if you were building straight onto BDU’s and had selected the pattern best suited to your environment, needs to remain visible in order for the breakup to still work. It’s a common mistake to go overboard with 3D elements to the point that the pattern is lost, and another to just apply it randomly in huge quantities.

However, airsoft snipers have a different set of camouflage needs compared to real snipers. It’s a much more dynamic environment, usually across a range of different terrains during the course of the day. Specialist suits fine tuned to a particular position are a disadvantage, and should be replaced with something that is lighter and more versatile across different areas. There’s a lot of movement, as opposed to digging in for a three day observation. Any movement will obviously break any camouflage system, no matter how good, but when the sniper stops the suit needs to be adaptable enough to blend in without having to sit and thread local vegetation into it to make it work; usually the action will move before the re-camouflaging is complete, or the vegetation will start to wilt and die. Moving to a new area can then render all that effort wasted. This is something I’ll be covering in the next set of blogs.

So too, the problems with ranges. Ideally, the sniper will be sitting at 30m+ of their target and camouflage should always be tested at these ranges. 30m+ keeps us out of sight and hearing range better, but is also outside of MED meaning we can actually engage with rifles at that range. It gives us space to manoeuvre and retreat if needed. However, if mistakes are made with positioning then snipers can often find themselves almost being stood on by passing players, or within bb throwing distance. At much closer ranges, the macro patterns are more noticeable, so a balance is needed in order to remain undetected.

Micro within macro. We can interrupt the macro shape by adding different coloured elements within it, although not to mix things up too much that we end up with the grey carpet effect usually seen on those Amazon string ghillies.

The detail here is too small, and this will blob into one outline at even the couple of metres you see here. Of course, there’s a lot more that’s wrong with it but I’ll save that for another day.

On the right, I’ve rather crudely drawn some extra small shapes to help break up the large areas, but the outlines of those macro patterns are still visible, such that at a distance they’ll still work to break up shapes but up close, there is more detail to break up those shapes too. I was told once by a wise man to break up every 8cm, that that is the largest single area that you should allow on your suit. In practice, if you are adding a block of Haloscreen for example, try to mix it up with single elements of a different colour of Haloscreen, or if it’s a bed of cotton leaves, then add some different shades in. Seems simple enough, but I’ve seen some “ghillie making companies” in the last week turning their creations imply into a sea of bright green mesh. At 50 metres, I can guarantee that’s going to be visible like a pair of OD coveralls…

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