The term "digital" in reference to camouflage design has had several meanings throughout the modern era. Contemporarily, the most accurate definition would be a camouflage pattern that has been designed using computer algorithms that are programmed to create micropatterns for effective disruption (conventional, analog and/or organic camouflage designs utilize macropatterns). The theory behind micropatterns is that large blotches of color with sharp outlines are easier to see, while "blurring" or "dithering" the edges of the colored patches makes the outlines more difficult to discern. In its common usage, however, the term digital has come to refer to any camouflage design that incorporates pixels rather than organic shapes to create the design. Although the term "pixelated" camouflage is more accurate, digital has become a part of the common vocabulary amongst military and collector communities; it will undoubtedly remain in common parlance for as long as pixelated designs continue to be produced.
The first country to adopt a true digital pattern was Canada, which introduced its CADPAT (Canadian Pattern) design in 1997. This was followed by the MARPAT design of the US Marine Corps, which in fact is a direct derivative of the original Canadian pattern. Since then, many countries have adopted pixelated or "digital" camouflage designs, some quite effective, and others having a closer relationship to modern fashion than pragmatic camouflage design.
Digital Camouflage Designs
- Originally introduced in 1997, the Canadian Forces CADPAT (Canadian Pattern) can be considered the first "digital" camouflage design of the modern era. Although copyrighted, the design has influenced a vast number of derivatives from many countries, including MARPAT, the UCP, and others.
- MARPAT (Marine Pattern) of the USMC is a derivative of the CADPAT design using different colorways.
- The Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) of the US Army, introduced in 2004, is also based on the CADPAT design. Although envisioned as a "universal" design that would have adequate effectiveness in multiple terrains, UCP has proven to be largely ineffective in almost every environment.
- The Armenian pixelated pattern incorporates an arid colorway most applicable in sparsely vegetated or arid regions.
- Introduced in 2008, the temperate pixelated camouflage design of Belarus was based on a design developed in Russia.
- Beginning in 2007, China introduced its own series of pixelated camouflage designs for all branches of the armed services.
- Guatemala adopted the pixelated pattern below in 2007.
- Honduras adopted the pixelated pattern below in 2008.
- In 2003, the ten graduating Battalions of the Indonesian Raider Course were issued a pixelated version of the standard Armed Forces DPM pattern. This was a short-lived design, and never re-issued.
- The re-organized Iraqi Armed Forces have issued several pixelated design in recent years, including copies of the MARPAT design and some having different colorways.
- Jordan introduced the KA2 series of pixelated camouflage designs (created by Hyperstealth Industries) in 2005.
- The Kuwaiti Armed Forces introduced a pixelated desert pattern for general issue in 2006.
- Serbia adopted a series of pixelated camouflage designs in 2007-2008.
- The Armed Forces of Singapore adopted a pixelated design for general issue in 2009.
- A pixelated desert camouflage uniform has also been adopted by the United Arab Emirates.
- The Republican Guards of Yemen also wear a desert pixelated pattern seen here.