Giant Pacific Octopus

This past December 15, 2016, I was lucky enough to have a meeting with the Ripley's Aquarium of Canada. We discussed showcasing my artwork on a variety of products at the gift shop. My black and white, pen and ink drawings were recognized as something new and interesting that could appeal to the millennial Aquarium guests. We agreed upon the development of two test prints; a Giant Pacific Octopus and a shark - though there may be more to come. 

This will be one of my first major displays of art that will generate revenue. There was a flood of excitement in me when I realized that I may reaching the point in my career where I am able to incorporate my two biggest passions; art and animals. To be recognized and supported enough to be offered a display at a such a high traffic institution like the Ripley's Aquarium is an amazing opportunity. 

For those of you who enjoy seeing my work in progress, I have taken a series of photos that document my creative process in developing this project:

Step 1: Using pencil, create outline using a variety of photo sources.  Materials: Canson 9"x12" Bristol Paper, Staedtler Mars Lumograph 100-F Pencil, Papermate Tuff Stuff Eraser Stick, Pigma Micron 03 Pen, Pigma Micron 005 Pen.

Step 1: Using pencil, create outline using a variety of photo sources.

Materials: Canson 9"x12" Bristol Paper, Staedtler Mars Lumograph 100-F Pencil, Papermate Tuff Stuff Eraser Stick, Pigma Micron 03 Pen, Pigma Micron 005 Pen.

I typically take and use photographs as a drawing reference, however, when it comes to wildlife, you may not always get the proper angle, posture, etc that you are aiming for. For this specific drawing, I sourced about 4 images of photos from a variety of websites to create the posture and movement that would work best for the product that it will be printed on - a narrow, metal water bottle. It is a well known artistic technique to create images that create visual direction, so I naturally decided to place and position the drawing to be seen from left to right, as the bottle turns. 

After drawing the octopus outline with a Staedtler 100-F pencil, I began the first major stage: lining. Lining each individual sucker with the Micron 005 pen creates the very distinct independent movement of octopus suckers; stretching out and in, moving side to side. Additionally, I lined the top of the arms with the Micron 03 pen to further bring attention to the suckers.

Step 2: Shading shadows

Step 2: Shading shadows

Next is the second stage: Shading. Each individual sucker is carefully shaded with the Micron 005 followed by the larger part of the arm using the Micron 03 and Faber-Castell F Pen. 

Step 3: Repeat

Step 3: Repeat

Step 4: Repeat... 6 more times...

Step 4: Repeat... 6 more times...

Step 5: Add in some texture.

Step 5: Add in some texture.

After the arms were finished, I slowly shaded up the head. Creating texture was one of the biggest challenges of this piece. I have always struggled with creating texture with pen and ink, but was able to get some practice in with this piece. Giant Pacific Octopuses are able to not only change colours and skin patterns, but they are also able to manipulate the texture of their skin to further help them camouflage. I put my best effort in showcasing both texture and pattern in the skin.

Step 6: Refine, define, and sign.

Step 6: Refine, define, and sign.

The last stage is to refine the edges, define the parts you want to stand out (ie. Suckers and major organs like eye and siphon) and of course sign your work. The easiest way to do this with pen and ink is to fill in the white spaces surrounding the parts you want to define. I did most of the additional shading with the Faber-Castell F pen. If you compare this image to the one above, it may not seem obviously different, but if you pay close attention, the slight shading in certain areas really help define those parts you want to be noticed and tie the piece together. 

Final product post editing

Final product post editing

After the image is finalized, I take a high resolution photo of the drawing on my Canon Rebel t3i and run it through Adobe Photoshop CS6 to isolate the image and make it ready for print. I typically start by using the Quick Selection tool to select and delete any background distortion. I will then adjust the brightness and contrast depending on how well lit the photo is. I very rarely will digitally draw on my images, but will occasionally clean up lines or shadows with the Eraser tool. 

I hope you like this piece. I worked a total of 6-8 hours on this from start to finish. Keep your eyes peeled at the Ripley's Aquarium of Canada for this print on some up coming products!

- Carm 

 

Carmen Szeto