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human Neuropsychology of camouflage perception

Our perception of objects and shapes is determined by the brain's organisation of the sensory information it receives from our surroundings. Due to the automatic, innate mechanisms that govern human perception, our brains are wired to perceive shapes and figures in contrast with the background. This is an evolutionary adaptation seen in many animal species, particularly social pack hunters like homo sapiens. Ghillie suits are so effective for concealment because they break up the outline of the human body and interfere with the image reconstruction process that enables us to recognise a human silhouette. These process can be explained by the law of human neuropsychological perception defined by the school of Gestalt in the early decades of 1900.

Law of Emergence: also known as the Law of Prägnanz or Law of Good Gestalt, it states that perception of an object from the background depends on the object's relevance - that is to say, on the contrast between the object and the background. Where contrast is minimal, the object does not stand out from the background.

Wearing a Ghillie suit with similar colours and shapes as the surrounding environment significantly reduces emergence and increases camouflage, as the figure will be perceived as part of a global whole, at one with the environment. Law of emergence is overarching the Law of Similarity and Law of Continuity which are determining part of it.

How to use this?
Law of Emergence guides you using the Law of Similarity and the Law of Continuity properly in the environment of use. Place yourself in a way your outline has the minimum contrast with the background from the hypothetical point of view of the observer

Practically on the field you may:
1- hide between the lightest and the darkest point in the field
2- hide 2/3 “lines” before the end of the treeline (/rocks/bushes)
3- hide immediately closer (above-aside) a very bright or dark spot which acts as a scenery focal point.

Law of Similarity: visually similar elements tend to be perceived as a single unified group. This explains why, by emulating the colouring and haphazard shapes of the natural environment, the ghillie suit can blend almost perfectly into the surroundings and be perceived by the brain as an integral part of them.

So, how to use this?

This law of visual perception guides you emulating on your ghillie the environment of use. A general rule is that you should try to achieve a palette of colours which reflect the average colours of the operational environment. In the same vein, this should be pursued for the “shapes” of your Ghillie. Different shapes has to be used keeping in mind the use within the intended environment.

Generally speaking, you will use thin shapes (like rafia) for grassy and coniferous environments.

 

Broad-leaved shapes for deciduous woods, characterised by broad-leaved foliage.

 

For "mixed-curled-chaotic" shapes for mixed and transitional environments (ex. Jute, Jute + Rafia, or different fibers treated in specific ways depending environment and season).

 

Keep on mind that this guides the way you build your Ghillie, but it must to be considered as the baseline which will be implemented with local vegetation and natural elements (dust, sand, mud, clods and so on).

Law of Continuity: individual elements tend to be perceived as a whole when they are positioned in a continuous line with one another. This is exactly what happens when a ghillie suit is positioned next to a bush, on grassy turf or among mossy rocks.

So, how to use this?

 

Regardless you are in the military or dreaming in your “tactical paranoias”, when it comes to stalking read the environment and try to place yourself in “visual continuity” within the surroundings.

 

Do so considering the hypothetical point of view of your opponents. It may be right aside a bush, or following the shape of arising stones from the ground.  

Do not overlook the "perceptual continuity" of you gear, such your camera, spotting scope or rifle. The overall shape should be aligned accordingly with the scenario.

Law of Closure: Law of Closure: states that the human brain tends to automatically “fill the gaps” of known objects when presented uncompleted or partially occluded / hidden. The brain tends to complete figures filling the visual gap on the base of various mechanisms, including previous experience.

How to use this?

Since the brain automatically reconstructs reality, regarding camouflage, there is the need to interfere in these processes. “Cutting” human shapes with 2D camouflage is a first step, but more importantly disrupting human shapes with a 3D camouflage will result in greater gains and effectiveness.

The 2D pattern disruption is usually not enough, so in addition to this, “another shape” and “another dimension” must be added. Practically the “whole round shape” provided by the Ghillie can be enhanced by building a 3D Camouflage Pattern on it.

 

This, will further impair the brain’s reconstruction of the Ghillie outline while disrupting the recognition of human shapes.Practically, on 2D level you may wear “a split camouflage” combination in accordance to the area of use (i.e. MTP pants with DPM shirt). On 3D level you have to wear a proper a Ghillie Suit with a 3D ghillie camouflage Pattern capable to disrupt the Ghillie outline in the macro components.

Law of Proximity: states that the human brain tends to perceive objects as a group when they are placed closer to one to another. So, elements which are physically and spatially close tends to be perceived together as a singular element or cluster of similar elements. Proximal is perceived as related.

How to use this?

Since the brain tends to group elements, in matter of camouflage this concept can be strategically used by placing closer (among – aside) to relevant clusters of natural elements. For example, a group of mossy rocks, bushes or in visually similar uneven part of the ground.

The law of proximity guides you in interacting with the environment acting as part of the whole scenery aiming to be perceived as a part of the surroundings. The law of proximity is affected by the other laws of human visual perception such as the law of similarity, the law of continuity and the law of closure. All these laws are part of the greater law of emergence which dictate the likelihood of a successful camouflage use.

 

 

Our perception of objects and shapes is determined by the brain's organisation of the sensory information it receives from our surroundings. Due to the automatic, innate mechanisms that govern human perception, our brains are wired to perceive shapes and figures in contrast with the background. This is an evolutionary adaptation seen in many animal species, particularly social pack hunters like homo sapiens. Ghillie suits are so effective for concealment because they break up the outline of the human body and interfere with the image reconstruction process that enables us to recognise a human silhouette. 

A scientific explanation has been offered by Gestalt, one of the leading schools of experimental psychology. Gestaltists postulate that perception is the result of complex interactions among numerous stimuli, on the basis of which the brain generates a self-organised "global whole". This global whole is influenced by specific mechanisms of human perception that help explain how and why ghillie suits work. We begin with the fundamental principle of Gestalt perception.

 

Law of Emergence: also known as the Law of Prägnanz or Law of Good Gestalt, it states that perception of an object from the background depends on the object's relevance - that is to say, on the contrast between the object and the background. Where contrast is minimal, the object does not stand out from the background. Wearing a ghillie suit the same colour as the surrounding environment significantly reduces emergence and increases camouflage, as the figure will be perceived as part of a global whole, at one with the environment. 

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Other principles come into play with the Law of Emergence.

 

Law of Similarity: visually similar elements tend to be perceived as a single unified group. This explains why, by emulating the colouring and haphazard shapes of the natural environment, the ghillie suit can blend almost perfectly into the surroundings and be perceived by the brain as an integral part of them. The camouflage effectiveness of raffia and sisal fibres is a clear example of this principle.

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Law of Continuity: individual elements tend to be perceived as a whole when they are positioned in a continuous line with one another. This is exactly what happens when a ghillie suit is positioned next to a bush, on grassy turf or among fallen leaves.

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The Gestalt approach to human perception helps us understand how ghillie suits interact with their surroundings, and provides remarkable insight into concealment strategies. Let's see a more direct example of our Gestalt-based approach.

Pictured below are 3 samples: a ProApto Greenzone in raffia, one in green jute and a handful of artificial leaves commonly used in leaf-suits. Which of these samples offers the best degree of concealment?  Some believe ghillie leaf-suits are superior to jute and raffia ghillies, but we disagree. If we take human sensory perception into account, a larger object surrounded by thinner shapes is more easily distinguishable than a slim object among similar shapes. The differing morphology and larger visual space occupied by the large object make it more easily detectable in contrast with the background. 

A leaf-suit, visually a collection of broad shapes, will be extremely effective in environments characterised by similar shapes (such as broad-leaved forests), but its efficacy will drastically decrease in grassy areas, leading to concealment issues. Conversely, a full raffia ghillie will work extremely well in a grassy environment, but offer poor concealment in a broad-leaved forest. However, it bears saying that raffia ghillies have higher versatility than leaf-suits, simply because grass is generally more present across environments than leaves and trees. Even lacking grass, thinner shapes such as twigs and shrivelled vegetation are found everywhere (with the exception of hot and cold deserts).

Below is a video example of jute's adaptability in different environments. In the following video, the same ghillie suit is used to cover a 13 km distance, moving from 1200mt to 2500mt of altitude. 

Jute is the intermediate step between thin and broad shapes. The multitude of strands falls into random, irregular shapes, making it a reliable material for concealment, especially during transitions between different environments: no other fibre can rival jute's versatility. Admittedly, jute will not perform as well as a leaf-suit in a broad-leaved environment, in the same manner as a raffia ghillie's effectiveness decreases outside of grassy environments, but it presents an adaptable compromise for camouflage concealment across large distances and seasons. The videos below were taken in a mixed environment, featuring a combination of thin and broad shapes. See for yourself how well jute, raffia and artificial foliage perform.

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The following video showcases jute's versatility across 3 different environments, gaining +900mt of altitude for a total distance of 21 kilometres. It features 5 ghillie camouflage patterns and makes a performance comparison between jute ghillies, a full-raffia suit and a leaf-suit.

The following images examine the effectiveness  of ProApto ghillie suits across different terrains. The key factor in a successful camouflaging system is adaptability across multiple environments. Neuropsychological studies on human perception of colours and shapes provided the basis for our designs and are the foundation of our products' excellent camouflage capacity.

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