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  • Christina M

Process and SHARKS.

As an artist, I really enjoy seeing how the sausage is made in other people’s work. The artistic process can feel like a black box, or even nonexistent, when much of the art we are exposed to online is on carefully curated Instagram accounts. I say, share the messy sketches! To me, art doesn't feel like a magic trick - it's more like a math problem. Show your work!


Sketches made in Procreate, then transferred to Adobe Photoshop for further revision.


Here are my messy sketches, and some of the process of creating of the infamous megalodon shark (Otodus megalodon) - a Miocene monster thought to have measured from 45-60 feet in length when fully grown. I was given primary sources by the paleontologists who needed the illustration as a jumping off point. From there, we went back and forth with the sketches and the color illustrations until the experts were satisfied with the anatomy, dentition, posture, proportion, and coloration.



Above you can see the measured proportion of the shark, reverse engineered from the drawing itself. I used good old graph paper (albeit the Photoshop kind) to work that out.



Here you can see the subtlety of the revisions made from the bottom shark, to the top shark. The blue arrows indicate the the changes.



To help me execute the final illustrations, I made a maquette out of Super Sculpey polymer clay. I’ve made a couple of maquettes before, and I find it to be just pure joy. I loved sculpting this shark.



Shark maquette made with Super Sculpey on a wire and tin foil frame. Pay no mind to the rest of my desk.


I’m still nailing this process down, so my wire frame was a little… wobbly at times. In fact, the tail kept falling off. Make a note, do better next time! The maquette helps me see depth, proportion, light and shadow, etc when drawing. My sculpted shark didn’t need intense detail, she just had to exist in reality so I had a solid three-dimensional reference. One day I’d love to make detailed models from clay, painted and everything!


After back-and-forth with the clients, we landed here:



We agreed our queen of a shark should have lived some life - scars on her body indicative of mating bites, her skin the mottled, damaged gray of older great whites sharks, and some intense personality. Plus, look at them shark tummies.


I hope this sheds a little light on my artistic process. Feel free to contact me with questions! Thanks so much!


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