Have you heard of Dazzle Ships? More than likely not, which is why 14-18 NOW, a major cultural programme marking the centenary of the First World War, commissioned us to develop an Augmented Reality app to bring the Dazzle Ships story to life.
In 1917, whilst on board a naval patrol ship, the British artist Norman Wilkinson had a brainwave. He came up with the idea that the best way to protect the British fleet from German attack was to paint the ships in bold shapes and violently contrasting colours, with the aim of confusing the enemy rather than concealing the ship. The Admiralty took him seriously and soon much of the British fleet was painted in brightly coloured patterns. Whether this was effective or not remains unproven but the legacy of his proposal was a lasting influence on 20th century art. In 2014, as part of the WW1 centenary, three contemporary artists, including Sir Peter Blake, were commissioned to dazzle three ships, HMS President (a WW1 Q-Ship moored on The Thames), Snowdrop (one of the Mersey Ferries) and the Edmund Gardner, a Liverpool pilot ship.
Now, using our Dazzle It app, you can create your own unique dazzles by remixing the contemporary artists' work with your own images, wrapping your creation around a 3D model and then viewing it, via your device’s camera, within an augmented reality real-world scene. You can choose from a selection of models that includes the three ships as well as a range of other water-borne craft – try our favourite, the rubber duck! We've also used the latest markerless augmented reality technology to allow you to view your creation anywhere without the need for a pre-defined target.
Once you've created your augmented reality masterpiece you can share it with your friends or submit it to the website gallery, where you can also view and vote on other people's creations.