Prior to the outbreak of the war in August of 1914, British naval engineers had made serious efforts to reduce smoke belching and shorten funnels all in the name of camouflage - which shortly lead to their study of nature's camouflage. Seeing that the snow-capped iceberg that made such quick work of TITANIC was white (reflecting blue at night), and that seagulls and pelicans are (largely) white, it was concluded by the brain trust of the Admiralty that this was suitable naval camouflage for their North Atlantic fleet. They added the black in order that the ships appear gray on the horizon. As for the designs:
"The so-called 'dazzle' system of camouflage - the piebald effect - makes a vessel 'unhittable' rather than invisible. The early British 'dazzle' scheme was based frankly upon the assumption that 'invisibility at sea being unattainable, some protection may be offered by painting the ships in such a way as to confuse the enemy by causing some doubt as to course, speed and distance, thus delaying the discharge of the torpedo.'"
There was only one surviving log entry in which a U-boat captain confessed to being confused by the dazzle camouflage. However, by September of 1918 a committee of inquiry convened by the Admiralty had concluded that the camouflage made no difference, although it did succeed in lifting the morale of both officers and men on board these ships. It is Lt. Commander Norman Wilkinson (1878 - 1971) who is largely credited as the father of Dazzle.