By Lukas Kaffer – Great Male Leopard in South Afrika | 取自Lukas Kaffer ─ 南非雄豹


Camouflage is a brilliant example of what humans can adapt from the animal kingdom.  Camouflages are used by animals either to blend into their surroundings, or to mimic something else to increase their chances of survival.  For example, leopards have disruptive patterns on their body to blend into the tall grass in the wild, and butterflies have patterns on their wings to deter predators by pretending to be bigger and stronger than what they are.




The earliest adaptations of camouflage by humans could be found way back in ancient Greek, where some books recorded that Mediterranean pirates could paint their ships with grey for concealment.  However, the formal adaptation and invention of military camouflage patterns only came in World War 1, where the French first formed a camouflage corps known as the “camoufleurs” – the pioneers of modern military camouflage.  Camouflage in WW1 mainly took place on vehicles and hardware like firearms and helmets, rather than on clothes. Traces of cubism art could also be seen as early camouflage patterns did take a lot of inspiration from them as cubism art breaks down reality into patterns that are difficult for eyes to distinguish – perfect for disruptive camouflages.



































Albert Gleizes – L’Homme au Balcon (Man on a Balcony), 1912 | Albert Gleizes ─ 陽台上的男人,1912年



a camouflaged British-style tank crossing a trench and breaking through barbed wire. Two biplanes fly above. text: SEVENTH WAR LOAN WAR BONDS, LIKE TANKS, BREAK HUN'S RANKS. JOHN SANDS LTD. SYDNEY.

Taken from the Imperial War Museum – Australian war loan propaganda, 1918 | 取自帝國戰爭博物館 ─ 澳洲的戰爭債券宣傳品,1918年


Helmet: Model 1916 steel helmet, complete with leather three-pad liner attached to a leather headband. The inside is painted regulation dark apple green and externally is hand-painted in camouflage segments of red-brown, light-green and dark yellow, all outlined with a black border, 15mm in width. To the upper right front crown is an impact dent that has fractured the metal 40mm in length.

Taken from the Imperial War Museum – WW1 German Stahlhelm with a visible dent | 取自帝國戰爭博物館 ─ 一戰的德軍頭盔,有明顯的凹痕


In modern militaries, disruptive camouflages that blurs the borders of objects are widely used for the same reason that animals used them – to increase their chances of survival.  Military forces, companies and scientists have created many patterns of camouflage and countless variations of colour combination. Nowadays, digital patterns with different colour schemes are widely used around the world, such as the American ACU, Canadian CADPAT and the Chinese Type 07 Camouflage.




From the Internet – Type 07 Camouflauge | 取自網絡 – 07式軍服



By Sue Harden – Soldier in ACU | 取自哈登 – 穿著ACU的軍人


Besides its combat oriented characteristics, the unique, sometimes eye catching aesthetics of camouflage clothing are also preferred by many as a choice of casual wear.  Next time, we will be digging deeper into the stories behind different patterns.






  1. By original by Lukas Kaffer (Super.lukas); crops and changes by JD – Image:Great male Leopard in South Afrika.JPG, CC BY-SA 3.0,
  2. By Albert Gleizes,, PD-US,
  3. Imperial War Museum,
  4. By Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Flickr: 110712-N-TT977-077, pubic domain,