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Visual Deception: The Secret Behind Camouflage Patterns


For leakage prevention before unveiling new cars, automakers use camouflage patterns when they test their new models. So, what exactly a camouflage pattern is? Here's the secret revealed.

For every automaker in the world, the model launch is one of the most important issues. And until that day, they do their new designs or specs since the design leakage is their worst nightmare. However, testing on the regular roads for driving performance is essential before release. This means that they must conduct the test while allowing no one to take a look at any of their new design. Most car brands hide their new car in camouflage or camouflage films (camouflage patterns) to avoid people recognizing it.

What is a Camouflage pattern?

Camouflage is the disguising by painting or covering a person, a thing, or an animal to make them blend in with their surroundings.

Camouflage, a French word, means ‘disguise’. Camouflage is the representative color of the animal that hides its body with a color similar to the surrounding environment. The Camouflage pattern, conceived from the animal’s protective color, began to be used in the past by hunters to make the color of their clothing similar to the surrounding environment and is now widely used in military uniforms.

The ‘Dazzle Camouflage’ pattern is a pattern designed to cause illusions.

The Camouflage pattern was applied not only to military clothing but also to past warships. The Camouflage pattern applied to warships was used not to cover up, but to avoid submarines’ torpedoes or bombers’ anti-aircraft missiles. A complex, repeating pattern is used to make the warship look bigger or smaller, or to make it look as if it is moving while it is not, or to confuse the enemy so that they cannot tell which direction it is moving toward. This pattern is called a dazzle camouflage pattern. However, due to the development of radar, which can ignore such disguise, no one uses the Camouflage pattern any longer.

Camouflage Pattern To Prevent Design Leakage

Dazzle Camouflage pattern causing illusions is used to prevent design leakage of new cars. The picture above shows the Avante(Elantra) N Line covered with camouflage pattern wrap.

The pattern used by car brands to prevent design leaks of new cars is the Dazzle Camouflage pattern used in warships in the past. The car is wrapped in a camouflage pattern that causes optical illusions, making it impossible to fully recognize the silhouette or details of the car. Indeed, this pattern of camouflage causes confusion in the human visual system and the neural processor, causing illusions. Geometrical-optical illusions, in which shapes and lines are perceived differently from objective forms caused by the surroundings, or color illusions, in which a color is accepted differently from an objective color due to its relationship with the surrounding color, are the examples of the Dazzle Camouflage pattern.

Automakers print camouflage patterns on a matte vinyl wrap. If the wrap is made of light-reflecting material, it would be easier to identify curves or shapes on the body because of reflected light, and today’s cameras’ autofocus feature is also very good at recognizing objects. The complex and irregular camouflage pattern of black and white causes illusions that make the curved side of the body look flat and the flat side distorted, and it works better with the matte surfaces.

Camouflage Pattern: The More You Hide, The More It Shows

The reason why Camouflage patterns are overlaid to new cars is to prevent accidental design leaks during road tests. Ironically, however, it gets to drive more attention. If you’re interested in cars, it’s natural to wonder what kind of cars they are when you see a car covered with a camouflage pattern. For this reason, some car companies intentionally reveal new cars in a camouflage wrap to see how people react. It is quite effective in maximizing expectations about a new car.

In August 2018, BMW unveiled a test car concealed in a camouflage wrap with net print prior to the launch of the BMW 8 Series convertible model (image from BMW official website).
Jaguar Land Rover unveiled its new Defender’s test drive last year to celebrate the World Land Rover Day (April 30). (Jaguar Land Rover official website).
Audi drew attention at last year’s LA Auto Show when it unveiled its electric vehicle model e-Tron Sportback teaser, featuring colorful camouflage patterns of red, black, and silver (image from Audi official website).
Before the official release, the Genesis GV70 stood in front of the camera with a camouflage wrap depicting the Genesis’ brand signature pattern, G-matrix.

In some cases, the brand’s identity is captured in the Camouflage pattern itself; it’s more than just revealing their new model covered with a camouflage wrap. The Genesis’ first rear-wheel-drive-based midsize SUV, GV70, is one example. The GV70 first revealed the attachment of camouflage films designed in G-Matrix patterns before the design was officially unveiled. The G-matrix pattern is the symbol of the Genesis brand, inspired by the beautiful ovary that appears when light touches the diamond: the newly unveiled GV70 camouflage pattern incorporates Genesis’ identity and details.

Camouflage Patterns Evolve

In the middle of the camouflage pattern of Genesis GV70 is the QR code leading to the website introducing the G-Matrix.

The Camouflage pattern applied to the new car’s test car is becoming increasingly complex and sophisticated. This is because of high-performance cameras that can capture even a small amount of light sensitively and split patterns and images, making current camouflage patterns useless. In fact, Ford has applied camouflage patterns that are similar to the white noise screen on TV, which makes it difficult to recognize the shape of the body not only through photos but also through video clips. The development of camera performance is also developing camouflage technology for automakers.

On the other hand, the camouflage patterns of Genesis GV70, BMW X2, or Audi e-Tron, not only conceal the design but also signify the identity of the brand or model in the pattern. In addition, Genesis introduced a new marketing strategy: inserting QR codes in the middle of its camouflage pattern, leading to the G-Matrix website. Furthermore, the camouflage-wrapped GV70 will travel around the country for about a month to boost expectations for its official launch. Which automaker will unveil its next model with a unique camouflage pattern? The exotic camouflage pattern itself is becoming a fun surprise along with the new car.