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The term “dazzle painting” was coined by the British in 1917, when its adoption was proposed by a Navy lieutenant and marine artist named Norman Wilkinson. He devised it to counter torpedo attacks by German submarines (called U-boats). It was Wilkinson’s idea to apply bewildering, geometric shapes to the surfaces of ships, both military and merchant, to make it a challenge to target them through a periscope from a substantial distance, in conditions of visibility that were often less than ideal. Because the targeted ship was moving and because the torpedoes took time to arrive, the submarine gunner had to calculate the speed and direction of the ship, and to aim ahead of the target.http://camoupedia.blogspot.com/2013/06/camouflage-artist-norman-wilkinson.htmlshapeimage_7_link_0
 
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Pictured above are three important players in World War I American ship camouflage. Harold Van Buskirk (1894-1980) (left) was an architect and legendary Olympic fencing champion, who initially served as a member of the Submarine Defense Association. In 1918, as a lieutenant in the US Naval Reserve, he was placed in charge of the Camouflage Section of the Bureau of Construction and Repair. Within that unit were two subsections, the Design Subsection (located in Washington DC) and Research Subsection (at Eastman Kodak Laboratories in Rochester NY). These subsections were in turn commanded by artist Everett   L. Warner (1877-1963) (center) and physicist Loyd A. Jones (1884-1954) (right), respectively. Below in this column are photos of various stages in the process of designing WWI dazzle ship camouflage.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everett_Warnerhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loyd_A._Jonesshapeimage_12_link_0shapeimage_12_link_1
 
Below WWI-era British postcards of paintings of various dazzle camouflaged ships. Author’s collection. Gift of Les Coleman. 1 2 3 4
Click here for a roster of artists, architects, theatre designers, zoologists and others who contributed to camouflage in the 20th centuryCamouflageArtists.htmlshapeimage_22_link_0
Above in photos 1 through 4 are some of the typical stages in designing WWI US ship camouflage. (1) The model-making room at the Design Section in Washington DC, in which the following five artists are working (left to right): Douglas D. Ellington, Kenneth MacIntire, Frederick C. Clayter, Richards, and Sullivan. (2) The model-painting room, in which the camouflage artists include (left to right) Everett L. Warner, Frederick Waugh, John Gregory, Gordon Stevenson, Manley K. Nash, and M. O’Connell. A sign on the wall above Warner reads “Keep It Simple.” (3) The model ships having been painted, they were then observed in a testing theatre (positioned on a turntable, they were viewed through a periscope simulator by experienced naval officers). The person shown here is US Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels. (4) Once ship plans were approved, the models were passed on to the drafting room, where the camouflage proposals were translated into construction diagrams that were then provided to dock officers for use in painting the actual ships. Warner, Van Buskirk, Waugh, Gregory, MacIntire and Nash are also in this photograph. Seated at the front table in the center is Raymond J. Richardson, who was in charge of the drafting room.http://camoupedia.blogspot.com/2013/11/camouflage-artist-douglas-d-ellington.htmlhttp://camoupedia.blogspot.com/2013/01/camoufleur-everett-warner-on-youtube.htmlhttp://camoupedia.blogspot.com/2013/09/same-camouflage-on-two-ships.htmlhttp://camoupedia.blogspot.com/2013/11/camouflage-artist-gordon-stevenson.htmlhttp://camoupedia.blogspot.com/2013/11/camouflage-artist-manley-kercheval-nash.htmlshapeimage_23_link_0shapeimage_23_link_1shapeimage_23_link_2shapeimage_23_link_3shapeimage_23_link_4
Click here for an annotated list of books and other writings on camouflage in the past 100+ years.
Above (left) is a photograph of Lieutenant Harold Van Buskirk (on the right) and Ensign Raymond J. Richardson, comparing one of the ship models with its construction diagram. At left are the original plans for the camouflage of the USS Leviathan, an American troop ship (captured from the Germans, it was formerly the Vaterland) of which other views are shown below on this page. Note that different designs were proposed for the two sides, port and starboard, and that the patterns were altered somewhat in being applied to the actual ship.http://camoupedia.blogspot.com/2014/01/camouflage-artist-raymond-j-richardson.htmlshapeimage_26_link_0
“At every level, from brute camouflage to poetic vision, the linguistic capacity to conceal, misinform, leave ambiguous, hypothesize, invent, is indispensable to the equilibrium of human consciousness.”
—George Steiner Click here for camouflage related inventions on file at the US Patent Office
As discussed in detail on this website, American Impressionist painter Everett L. Warner was one of the leading contributors to US ship camouflage during both World Wars. Through the courtesy of his son, Thomas Warner, we have been able to post many of the photographs on this website, including those (at left) of four of the wooden ship models that his father and his colleagues made at the Design Section in Washington DC. (Unfortunately, other models, as well as various documents, were destroyed in 1972 in a fire at Warner’s painting studio.) In addition, several of the photographs on this page were provided by Lyn Malone, who is the granddaughter of Harold Van Buskirk.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everett_Warnerhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Van_Buskirkshapeimage_30_link_0shapeimage_30_link_1
The refinement and expansion of this website is ongoing. Check for related updates on our blog. In preparation for posting are new findings having to do with Everett L. Warner, Abbott H. Thayer, Harold Van Buskirk, Loyd A. Jones, William Andrew Mackay, Frederick Waugh, Norman Wilkinson and others, as well as such subjects as the scientific rationale for designing camouflage, camouflage schools, civilian involvement in camouflage, the use of camouflage by artists (current and historical), and so on. http://camoupedia.blogspot.com/EverettWarner.htmlDazzleThayer.htmlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Van_Buskirkhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loyd_A._Joneshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Mackayhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Waughhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Wilkinson_%28artist%29shapeimage_31_link_0shapeimage_31_link_1shapeimage_31_link_2shapeimage_31_link_3shapeimage_31_link_4shapeimage_31_link_5shapeimage_31_link_6shapeimage_31_link_7
contact “The most familiar kinds of camouflage make one thing appear to be two, two things one, and so on.”—RB
dazzle camouflage
High Difference Camouflage (hodgepodge)

compiled by Roy R. Behrens
copyright © 2012
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we also publish a camouflage blog CAMOUFLAGE ARTISTS (called camoufleurs) make it an arduous challenge to see a figure against a background (called blending or background matching), or to distinguish one category of object from another (mimicry). Less familiar but potentially far more effective is disruptive or dazzle camouflage in which a single thing appears to be a hodgepodge (or mishmash) of unrelated components.

Disruptive or dazzle camouflage and its corollary, coincident disruption (consisting of blending and dazzle combined), are found throughout the natural world. Such tactics have also been widely employed throughout human history. shipping
now poetry
of sight
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to learn more about these books Available now:
Copies of SHIP SHAPE: A Dazzle Camouflage Sourcebook (2012) Click here for radio interview on dazzle camouflage
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