After years of living in harsh, sandy desert conditions, the camel has adapted to its environment by blending almost seamlessly into the surrounding dunes. Through this use of camouflage (a.k.a. camelflage), it is able to avoid being detected by potential prey.

For want of something to draw relatively quickly, I once again resurrected something I had drawn a long time ago. The original idea was an urban camel, standing in front of a brick wall and attempting to blend in with the bricks. I’ve included the image below. It was originally done with Indian ink and remained black and white. When thinking about how I might recreate this, I decided I wanted to re-release the camel back into its normal desert environment.

Camelflage Original

Experimenting with a few sand dune landscapes, I ended up drawing the camel on the ridge of a dune, blending its contours with those of the dunes’ as much as possible, with regards to colour, shading and orientation. Overall, it seemed to turn out well.

Because there wasn’t a lot of colour or detail in this drawing, I thought I’d spend some time on turning it into a simple animation to make it a little more special.

A 75 frame animation resulted with a sleepy yet seemingly paranoid camel, keeping an eye out for potential danger between dozes. In retrospect, the big white ‘Z’s emitted by the camel now seem a little counteractive to its camelflage technique. Anyone walking by would be able to spot those quite easily.

There were noticeably fewer outlines in this drawing compared with previous ones. The hiding of the camel didn’t work as well when there were solid outlines defining its shape. Removing the outlines of the sand dunes also provided a stark contrast between their light and dark slopes where there would otherwise be an intermediate colour softening the transition between the two. This provided a more natural looking (cartoon) desert.

The next time you’re venturing through the desert, pay attention as you are climbing sand dunes or you may accidentally trip over a camelid, largely hidden through camelflage.