How much 3D?

How much 3D should you add to your ghillie or camouflage suit? Is more, more effective? Or is less more? Recently there has been a noticeable shift towards lightly decorated suits, as the Russian factory made leaf suits have disappeared and many airsoft snipers are starting to wake up to the idea of adding Haloscreen to BDU’s.

Because its a blank canvas compared to the half constructed leaf suit, there’s a lot of confusion over what to add and how much, because there’s little guidance. The days of heavily laden leaf suits with half a florists shop attached are gone, but it’s not all down to camouflage…

One thing I’ve been banging on about for years now is usability. To me, that has to come first before any camouflage. So let’s look at a build from the ground up.

My own suit is designed for the UK climate. Which is usually cold and wet. Rather than a mesh suit for breathability, I wanted a more robust and slightly weatherproof suit that suited my playing style of getting close to the floor and crawling through anything and everything. It’s not for pretty pictures standing posing with coloured smoke grenades. Experience has taught me that I need my hearing and vision to be alert to incoming threats and opportunities, so capes and hoods are out, as is excessive head camouflage that may obstruct either. I don’t want a suit that is too heavy with material, because when crawling it will catch on everything and I’ll end up dragging tons of shit along with me. This creates excess noise, movement and is an annoying distraction.

I’ve spent a while working on a balanced 2D base that looks like dirt, because I don’t climb trees. To me, the suit will only work in your firing positions when you’re still, so to camouflage it for walking height is only appropriate if you shoot from a standing position. Movement breaks any camouflage system anyway. When I am moving, I need to be able to move freely and easily from position to position. So that’s where I need to strike a balance.

Balancing lightweight with breakup, Point6 and myself running winter setups. There’s not a lot of 3D on, but it’s enough to avoid flat surfaces

At this point, it may seem that I’m treading the path of “less is more” to the point that any amount of 3D is too much. However, where a good 2D pattern may be enough in other camouflage activities, it isn’t in airsoft for two reasons.

1. We’re up against players, not animals. Usually, but not always, they’re a bit smarter.

2. Airsoft ranges aren’t just “50m+”. They can be, and your 2D suit will work at that range if done correctly, but we have to work with the worst case scenario, which is human observation at much closer ranges. Certain camouflage patterns are effective, some are too recognisable and familiar, but all have one flaw – they’re flat, uninterrupted surfaces. I know Minecraft has flat surfaces with a terrain painted on but unfortunately the real world is a bit different; there’s no zombies either.

Rather than delve into camouflage theory and create excessive reading, just go outside and look at the ground. It’s not a flat surface, there’s shit everywhere such as stones, twigs, grass, leaves etc. Now, a 2D pattern can have that painted on and some of the Mim-tech patterns get pretty close to perfect anyway, but flat surfaces have no disruption or depth. They’re a smooth plane, which doesn’t exist in nature. These shapes create depth and add shadows as well as aid breakup. However, going to the extreme, if you cover all your baselayer then you don’t get that depth, because the 3d is raised to the same level. Additionally, keep the spacing uneven, so it’s less uniform. Think of clumps of 3D.

Bubba is really good at clumping unevenly, to reduce the uniformity of his suit

So how do you find the middle ground? Well, personally the amount on the picture above (obviously the suit isn’t complete, this is just early testing) is about right. Colours could be adjusted a bit but the volume is good.

Another good example here is one of our team with his modified desert dpm base, which is based off my own build. The 2D was excellent at a lot of longer ranges, but up close here you can see there are unpopulated areas that need further breakup to help disrupt the flat surfaces. This is one of the benefits of Sniper only weekends, in having opportunity to get feedback and a second opinion on a work in progress, to help guide the build. Note that the trousers have the same amount of 3d, but the high contrast provides by the kryptek highlander pattern deceive the eyes and enhance the breakup. Another thing to look at here is the strength of the Haloscreen colours, which are less saturated and do not stand out as bright green blotches, but work with the earthy base colours and give low reflectance. On this suit, to double the amount of 3D would be sufficient that the base can still breathe, and mixed with raffia and coconut rope to add other shapes and textures.

One thing I have seen online recently are builds with uncrafted, or almost, bdu trousers, where there is a good 2D pattern. Ideal if you’re at a distance, or standing waist deep in a hole, I’d always advise adding some 3D anyway because why not do full body? You can never guarantee ideal situations for your camouflage. Understandable if they’re a set of crye whatever gen trousers that you want to sell on one day, but then that’s probably not something you want to be dragging yourself across rocks on.

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