My new Mesonychoteuthis illustrations


Apr 10, 2006
Hi everyone, perhaps some of you remember that I´ve drawn an illustration of Mesonychoteuthis in 2011 for "The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals" by my good friend Karl Shuker. Some time ago I started digital painting, mainly of marine life. I wanted to make a remastered version similar to my original Mesonychoteuthis in dorsal view, but without some of the minor inaccuracies which I made at that time. It´s still not fully finished, the suckers adn hooks need still some more detailing in particular, and I am still not fully sure about the eyes. I decided to make also another version in a more lateral view, which I share here too. It has at the moment just a very simple background without any additional shading, and I can make easily versions with or without extended tentacles or with a white background. I really tried to make it as anatomically accurate as possible (except for the number of the suckers and hooks in the lateral view, but that´s something I can still fix). I also didn´t add any shading which I usually use in such depictions within dark water, to make the anatomy easier to see. If you see any other inaccuracies please let me know. I tried to use really all available photos and videos of fresh dead or the one living specimen to make it as naturalistic as possible. I was also thinking about a paler version as well, without the stereotypical red shock coloration. If anyone of you should be interested to use one of the illustrations for any projects please let me know. This are just screenshots from my graphic program in low resolution, but the originals are quite big and detailed.


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Thanks! I will try to finish the details of the sucker and hooks on the first version in the next time. They´re really quite tricky. The eyes are also an issue and you´ve surely seen that I made them different in the two illustrations to see how it works. In every case it´s still possible to change it again. I´ve been also working on a Magnapinna illustration as well, but it will still take some time. I´m still surprised just how few illustrations of many big and interesting cephalopods exist, and those which do exist are comparably often not really quite accurate.
Experience is also an incredible important factor. I´ve hardly drawn over the last decade and about two years ago I made my first tries with digital art (also a cephalopod btw, I will post this anytime in the fossil ceph group). When I look now at my earlier pieces I still find a whole lot of things which aren´t exactly good, but the best I could manage to produce at that time. The Mesonychoteuthis in the lateral view is still comparably simply made (in an artistic sense), but I wanted to finish the anatomy at first and make it as naturalistic as possible before I would add more shadings or surface details. I still have to learn a lot more, but during every project there´s something to learn. Perhaps you´ve seen one of my first pieces of digital art last years in the news, an artistic reconstruction of a bizarre narwhal x beluga hybrid whose skull was found in Greenland. Today I woud make some things a bit different (I´ve drawn it fully with a mouse and didn´t even use a graphic tablet at that time), especially the light effects on its skin, but I´m still happy that it became so popular: A bizarre narwhal x beluga hybrid from Greenland – how I reconstructed the weirdest whale of the world | Bestiarium
That’s already pretty close! The eyes are actually quite a bit bigger, the mantle slightly more bulbous and the fins are attached higher up the mantle, not quite jouning, however. Great effort👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻
I can try to make the eyes a big bigger and make the attachent of the fins a bit more dorsally The body shape isn´t that easy to change, and as the mantle is flexible and can expand and contrat anyway I think it´s ok to let it at its current state. I think the eyes of the Mesonychoteuthis in the lateral version should be ok in size, I just made the skin around them comparably contracted.
Looking at your dorsal view, that actually gets the fins perfectly right, I was thrown off by the lateral view with black background. If you take a 275 cm mantle length, then 25 cm is ok for the eye, the visible part of the eyes is spot on. Just ad a cm of skin, maxing out at 27 cm
I still didn´t find the time for the changes, but I thought it would be helpful to add another version of the Mesonychoteuthis in the lateral view without the tentacles and with a neutrally colored background (which makes however the hooks harder to see). As I wrote, this version is the lesser detailed one, but perhaps I´ll make some more fine details, shading and spotlights when the anatomical part is finished.


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I think one of the reasons why the eyes appear comparably small is because we´re used to see depictions of Mesonychoteuthis with totally exaggerated eyes. Those of the life-sized model which was made years ago for footage in a pool were for example way too large. That´s why I tried to use not any models or existing drawings (except for anatomical detail drawings of the arms for the sucker and hook arrangement) as references but focused soley on photos of real specimens, especially the fresh ones. If you look at them (like the big one caught by a Russian trawler, the 495 kg specimen and the one which was hooked and videotaped on a hoki line in 2015) you can see that the eyes are by far not as protruding and bulging as depicted on many illustrations. The same applies to Architeuthis as well btw.
I have also often the same problem with references when I make illustrations of animals from which we have only few photos of living and undamaged specimens. It can be sometimes an extremely difficult thing to find good fresh specimens for references, especially of deep sea animals (I have a big project of a fascinating deep sea anglerfish which did cost me countless hours of research for tracking down every single available photo in the internet for anatomical references which could be useful).
Some time ago I made also a depiction of the weird anti-predator behavior of pygmy and dwarf sperm whales in which they release a cloud of ink-like substance from their anus (it seems this is the very frist published illustration of thsi behavior). Finding good references for things like the body shape were also extremely time-consuming, because there are suprisingly few good photos of this animals available. I made also another (still unpublished) version of this btw, which features also a rarely illustrated cephalopod. The weird little whales that hide within a cloud of their gut fluid | Bestiarium

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