The Fourth Wall

4.11.08 Pixelated Camo


If you were asked to describe the in military operations; as shown in the image below. We see this alot at the metro station here at our Takoma office, which is also located near Walter Reed Army Medical Center.


Obviously, using camouflage in war has been adopted from nature to simply hide soldiers and their equipment from the enemy. The elements that distinguish camouflage in clothing are color and pattern designed to match the surrounding environment; just like the frog and spider pictured above. Camoflauge tricks the brain and our perception into connecting the lines of printed shapes with the lines of the matching environment; trees, ground, leaves, shadows, dessert or snow.

In the last 100 years the Army Combat Uniform (ACU) has only been redesigned a small number of times. 2004 brought a significant change when military camouflage design turned from the organic shapes of the past toward a digitized (pixelated) patterning.



Why did the shapes change and what does this pattern resemble?

As a designer, I work with these little shapes called PIXELS every day. Pixels are the tiny, impercetible (to the naked eye) squares that make up pictures on a computer screen. The more pixels the in the display, the finer the detail that can be rendered. Pixel is short for Picture Element, a single point in a graphic image.

Today, pixels make up the digital camouflage pattern which is bit-mapped on a computer and printed onto the clothing. Modern warfare has become more prevalent in dessert and urban settings so the color black–which disrupts the camouflage and is not found in these environments–has been removed. The resulting pattern is more blurry and muted, as well as highly effective.

Below are some additional examples of pixels in use that date as far back as the 5th Century and into the modern day:

1. 5th Century Mosaics depict an ancient use of the pixel concept.


2. A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (1884) by George Seurat using a technique called Pointillism. Detail is pictured on the right.


3. 1980’s video games (Atari)


4. Fine artist, Chuck Close uses a similar inspiration and technique in the painting Lucas (1986–1987)


5. Digital images that are made of pixels. The picture to the right is an extreme close-up of the area highlighted by the red box on the Emerge cover design.

Pay close attention to the pixelation concept, technique and patterning and feel free to send in examples that you find in your surrounding environment.

One Response to “Pixelated Camo”

  1. Megan Says:

    These are some really good paintings.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>