What Did the First Camouflage Look like?

The first camouflage for military soldiers dating back to World War I looked like the style of cubist art, with an abstract design of bold shapes and colors. Known as dazzle painting, it was created by British marine artist Norman Wilkinson around 1918 to be used for protecting ships against attacks. Rather than attempting to blend into the scenery, the abstract pattern of the dazzle painted ships made it difficult for enemies to determine the ships’ shape, size, and distance. The British army first used the dazzle painting, and after it was found to be successful, the US implemented the technique for ships and eventually uniforms.

More about camouflage:

  • France is thought to have been the first country to experiment with the idea of camouflage in 1915, when they opted to give up their easily recognizable bright white and red uniforms.
  • Dazzle camouflage is thought to be responsible for reducing attacks on American ships to less than 1% during World War I.
  • The modern camouflage uniform introduced in the late 1990s by Canada consists of pixels in an attempt to distract the enemy’s eye and make it unable to accurately detect the location.
More Info: history.com

Discussion Comments


While it's definitely a technique that might get even more advanced in the future, I wonder if it's really as effective as the statistics say. For example, in the second bullet point, notice how it's mentioned that due to the camouflaging, attacks were reduced to less than one percent. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't that mean not much changed at all? Finally, I should also mention that if the technique was constantly used, wouldn't the enemies discover what they're up to, and come up with a different strategy? When trying to beat someone in a game of life and death, you have to keep changing your tactics, or else, others will notice a recurring theme.


In my opinion, the most interesting thing about this article is the fact that camouflage can be applied to many things, and most of all, it first started with animals. It's interesting that as humans, we have actually adapted and learned several techniques from watching other animals. On another note, speaking of camouflage, it leads me to wonder if it will always work against predators. While some bugs and animals blend perfectly into their surroundings, it might be possible that overtime, the predator notices a pattern, and begins to respond accordingly, seeing right through their tricky plan. While it's just a thought, it's definitely something to think about.


Even though there haven't been any wars in a while, after reading some of these tidbits, it really makes me wonder if they would use these techniques if another war were to happen in the future, especially if it was overseas. While there are obviously many techniques that one can implement when going to war, I feel that one of the best things that you can do is confuse your enemy by any means necessary.

On another note, one thing I really like about this article is how even though it discusses camouflage, it goes much more into depth, and doesn't just discuss how it's normally used (by blending into your generic surroundings). When using any technique against your enemy (or anyone for that matter), it's always a good idea to take all possibilities into consideration.

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