08 October 2007

Cephalopod Awareness Day!

Sara and I are celebrating our 3-year anniversary today. But I would be remiss if I didn't mention the other significance to October 8th... it's International Cephalopod Awareness Day!

We had been planning to go to the New England Aquarium today, but the work week left us too tired and with aching feet, so our field trip is postponed. However, we did have fried squid as an appetizer at dinner (they say that ancient warriors would eat their enemies' hearts in order to absorb their courage), and Sara got me the perfect anniversary present: a copy of Claire Nouvian's The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss.

Among other things, I'm excited to use that book as a drawing reference. Actually, for the past few weeks I've been planning a cephalopod-centric project that should hopefully be seeing some light in the near future. In the meantime, here's a quick look at how I like to draw an octopus.

The most important thing to understand (from this cartoonist's perspective) is construction, an understanding of how all the different parts fit together. Once you understand the construction of your subject, you can draw it in any pose at any angle you want, and then flesh it out from there. My biggest breakthrough in cartooning octopi was realizing that they were constructed of three basic parts.

First, let's look at a diagram of octopus anatomy, courtesy of the Internet:

I really like this diagram, but it's a little more complicated than we need it to be. Let's simplify things a bit:

There, that's better. There are three main parts of the octopus--the mantle, the head, and the arms. The mantle contains most of the organs and makes up the bulk of the octopus. The head houses the eyes and brain. The arms radiate out from the bottom of the head, with the mouth at the center. We can use these three parts to lay out a quick sketch of a pose:

Note that we can change the relative sizes and positions of the parts to give our octopus a different character. Why, we can even make a whole 'nother kind of cephalopod... say, a squid:

It's all the same, mantle connected to head connected to arms. Once we have our basic layout, we can use that to sketch and clean up an outline, adding whatever details we want:

I know that's just a really quick rundown, but hopefully you found it at least slightly interesting and/or useful. Happy Cephalopod Awareness Day!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I'd been confused by the anatomy. This was really helpful!