I feel a connection to this ancient octopus design because the ocean is a part of my soul. I lived by the ocean as a child. Some of my best memories involve the ocean. I remember going to the beach and playing in the sand. I remember the salt in the air and the smell of the wind. I remember the cold water and the crashing against the rocks. I also remember rummaging through the tide pools, looking at all the little creatures trapped in a small natural fish tank with perfectly clear water and not enough room to hide from little children’s hands.

It’s funny how we think of them as the sea monsters. I guess it comes from the natural uneasiness that comes from the unknown. The large, dark, mysterious waters of the ocean. The things that hide in the deep. It’s natural to have a sense of curiosity and caution about it.

It’s amazing how those tiny little tide pools hold so many wonders for a kid. They are like tiny little oceans of their own – only we have the ability to explore the depths. We can actually see and interact with those little sea monsters. It’s great fun to feel like an explorer and adventurer!

One of the things I never caught was an octopus. Maybe that’s why they continue to hold such mystery for me. They still seem like more of a mysterious creature far out in the depths of the ocean and not a small touchable thing that I played with in a tide pool.

Ancient Octopus Design: The Concept

I will always love the idea of sea monsters – from old movies and books to modern sci-fi horror tales. They have such mystery to them! They can be envisioned in so many ways!

The cephalopod is a perfect little sea monster. The octopus is old and wise. He hunts and hides. He is strong and can tear his prey apart. It was the perfect inspiration for my design.

It’s only natural to get a bit uncomfortable at the idea of an ancient octopus larger than a man. However, I didn’t want this design to evoke fear. Rather I wanted this octopus design to create a sense of time. Why?

I want people to feel a sense of awe towards him. Almost a sense of respect. I have plenty of other designs that I want to create a sense of eeriness or fear.

Ancient Octopus Design: The Process

I started with a simple sketch in my design book. I didn’t take much time and loosely planned out the tentacles giving them a sense of freedom and chaos that they naturally take on.

I used a basic pencil kit on scratch paper to give me the freedom of erasing/changing lines. It also provides the fine tip point for detail work and the solid color contrast for a smooth transfer to computer.

It’s part of the design process that I really enjoy. I get to experience the connection of mind and hand – putting pencil to paper and trying to flesh out the idea in my brain. Even though it ends up on the computer as a digital design, I enjoy the roots of drawing with pencil and paper. My hope is that it comes through the digital piece and portrays an artistic quality.

Once satisfied with the sketch I scanned it and loaded it into Adobe Illustrator to turn it into a vector file.

Once in Adobe Illustrator I played with it a bit – adjusting colors and shapes Basically using my sketch as a reference I created a black outline and 3 color image. I often toy with the decision to keep it flat (thick black lines/shapes and few colors) or illustrative (lots of complicated shapes and colors, giving it a ‘drawn’ feeling).

I ended up going with a more illustrative feeling to match my original concept. I used the pencil tool a lot to keep the sketchy lines intact.

I used my trusty Wacom tablet which allowed me to keep the style of a hand drawn image. I am in love with my tablet and use it for all my digital illustrations. In fact, I wrote a whole blog reviewing the Wacom tablet as well!

When the digital illustration was done, I was able to save the design in any format I needed. So this guy can end up anywhere I need!

Ancient Octopus Design: The Result

I love this guy. Old and wise; he’s clearly seen better days. Perhaps he’s lived through battles with other larger beasts. He knows more about the world due to his experiences.

The design is simple and bold enough to stand out and be eye catching. Now he just needs a home. I think he’d be great on a T-shirt or phone case. Perhaps he’d make a nice sticker to add to my collection. It would make me really happy if a business or musician wants to use him!

I want to share him with the world and spread the word about this ancient old octopus. My hope is that someone sees him and wants to use him in a project. Hopefully he’ll find a home somewhere.

If you’re curious to see the whole process start to finish, I made a video documenting the project!  Check it out here.

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