Cephalopod Coloration

A series of handdrawn animations used to supplement a presentation at The Evergreen State College.

Client: Myself

The Science

Cephalopods (specifically octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish) have the ability to quickly change the color of their skin. To accomplish this, they rely on densely concentrated pigment-containing skin cells called chromatophores. Each chromatophores consists of an elastic sac that expands or contracts to reveal or conceal layers of brown, red, yellow, and orange pigment.

Fun fact: Cephalopod means “head foot” in Greek.

The Presentation

While it is indeed hard to compete with video of the real thing, using illustration and animation helped to abstract the processes involved in a cephalopod's coloration abilities. Water-based gouache paint was used to color the animations and an After Effects filter, Turbulent Displace, was used to complement the underwater vibe of the subject matter.