Category Archives: Cephalopod


Yarn Squid

Unraveling by Meg Lyman

8×10″ gouache and ink on Canson

Commission: SOLD

I’m not sure what happens when it runs out of yarn. A disembodied but cuddly yarn-squid head? A rip in the space-time continuum?

Actually, I don’t want to know.

A commission for a “yarn skein” squid, all nestled into a basket and knitting itself a new arm.

Gouache on Pastelbord

N. macromphalus WIP

Nautilus macromphalus – work in progress by Meg Lyman

11×14 gouache on Pastelbord

I did a brief review of gouache on Pastelbord last year, and although I liked it, I hadn’t used it since. However, I am a spineless worm when it comes to art supply stores. Colorful sirens in the form of papers, paints, and other such paraphernalia call from the shelves… “Buy me! Buy me!” and I am loathe to resist. Therefore, I recently found myself with half a dozen large pieces of Pastelbord that need to be used.

My first gouache on Pastelbord was this, and then this last week and now this current WIP. I am in love with the stuff. I know artists who swear by it for colored pencils and pastels, too. It is slightly sandy from the marble dust they mix into the substrate (which is probably why it’s expensive). It is of course rigid and non-buckling. The tinted ones suck a bit of the life out of the colors, but not much – and I haven’t tried the bright red gouaches yet, which typically dominate any surface with unyielding authority. They go on boldly, lording it over the other colors until you notice holy cow that’s bright and glaze some green over it. We’ll see about them.

The delight of this surface is hard to describe. For me, it’s mostly in the pull of the brush across the texture, and the way you can smack paint around without worrying about pulling up the under-layers. Pastelbord is absorbent and textured, something which none of the other Claybord-type products (or even papers and illustration boards) pull off very well. I am going to try gouache on Wallis at some point, and I hope it’ll give me the same feeling.

One of the only downsides to Pastelbord is its brush-eating. I have used one particular brush for 3 paintings: the two previous Pastelbords mentioned above, both 5×7, and the underpainting of Felipe (on illustration board). This is how the new bristle brush looked and how mine looks now:

Brush Damage

It’s not a very high-quality brush, but man, two and a half paintings? That’s pretty bad. Oh well… it’s worth it. And maybe it’ll be nicer to the soft brushes I use for detail work. I’ll report back later.

p.s. This is the first of the 100 Cephalopods project. Details still forthcoming.




I could take this beyond one little digital piece, but I won’t. I promise.

If you are confused, visit I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER and view the “lolcats.” But you’ll get addicted. So click only after careful consideration about your free time, because the archives are calling like sirens…

International Cephalopod Awareness Day

Today is International Cephalopod Awareness Day! Everyone please take a moment to consider the little-appreciated intelligence and beauty of class Cephalopoda.

Did you know that octopus arms act so independently of the brain that they can be said to have brains of their own? Did you know that cuttlefish can be trained to find their way out of mazes by looking at signs? Did you know the squids of family Histioteuthidae are called “cock-eyed squids” because their left eyes are long tubes bulging out of their heads?

Use today to spend a few moments learning about cephalopods. They rock.

Baseball Squid

Baseball Squid by Meg Lyman

6×6 Gouache on Cradled Gessobord


I have stopped working on this. It doesn’t feel finished to me, but I can’t think of what else to do. It works well enough, and I’m about ready to give up on it. Bad post-scan color balancing aside, does anyone have suggestions?

Snoozy Squid

Snoozy Squid by Meg Lyman

Digital (Gimp)

I doodled a bunch of cephalopods during some down time at DragonCon last weekend. That is, when I wasn’t distracted by neat costumes. A group of people came dressed as huge Tetris pieces!

I haven’t drawn with my tablet in a while, so I colored him digitally. I’m experimenting with non-smudge tool blending. This was done with a hard-edged brush on low opacity and color-picking the two colors, and as they blended, color-picking the blend. I’m really new at this, so any suggestions are appreciated.

Gouache WIP – Socctopus – Part 2

Hey, did I mention this is on cradled Gessobord? Did I mention that washes get easier if you layer them?

Once I got the background finished, I started on the octopus. First I painted the darks. I used a reddish-purple for the core shadows and a bluish-purple for the rest of the darks. I am probably not done with the darks yet; I’ll come back to them later to make sure everything balances out.

Next: Create the orange practice cone and flag, and lay in the middle tones on the ball. I’ll probably leave the white for the lightest areas.

Next: Paint the middle tones on the arms and eye, and some grass on the arms to integrate octopus and foreground. Notice the big difference the lighting makes in the color of the photograph – this was in daylight, the others were under halogen bulbs.


My boyfriend told me the eye wasn’t focal enough, and he couldn’t tell the little guy was supposed to be sleeping. So I used The Gimp to try a few different eyes.



Finally, I ended up with this: sad. Maybe they lost the game… or maybe he’s just sad that everyone keeps kicking him around. I added highlights and little details. It’s color-corrected and done!

Critiques and comments welcome!

Gouache WIP – Socctopus

Next in my ambitious lineup of sports squids, I present… The Socctopus!

(OK, it’s not a squid, but the pun worked better this way.)

This is a another WIP showing my process from start to finish, but with paint instead of pencil. The whole thing is already posted on the WetCanvas gouache board, in case you can’t wait to see the conclusion.

Start: I made many many sketches and doodles, trying to decide 1) content 2) positioning 3) composition and 4) value.

Next: Value study. I was on lunch break at work and had only a sharpie and a blue highlighter, which work well for a 3-value study.

Then: In pencil, I sketched out the composition full-sized. This is on cheap typing paper and is 8×10″.

The colors I planned to use: Prussian Blue, Cadmium Green, Alizarin Crimson, and Lemon Yellow, all Holbein. I’ll also use white for highlights, but only at the end. The big “X” on the cad green means it can cause cancer if inhaled, so avoid licking it.

I transferred the paper sketch onto Cradled Gessobord, using the same carbon-paper method that I used for the Chiroopractor. The pencil lines transferred very light, so I washed in the dark areas (black sharpie in value sketch) with blue to help me keep my bearings along the way.

Next: background. I have been told that it is a good idea to do the background first. I am not exactly sure why, but I suspect it has to do with 1) integrating subject and background and 2) getting bored and lazy and deciding the subject looks fine without a background.

For the grass, I did a light wash of cadmium green (a great color for bright grass). I then mixed two greens – light and dark – and made the grass blades with a 3/0 brush. Once I had the area around the socctopus filled in, I ditched the teeny brush for a fan, and finished the background grass with it. I’ll add blades of grass on top of the octopus’ arms later, to integrate him with his surroundings.

That’s it for now. Conclusion: next week!


The Winoctopus by Meg Lyman

Digital – Prints Available

Cephalopods need more love and representation in art. They’re amazing, beautiful, intelligent creatures. They also happen to make great plays-on-words. What should I call this one? Winoctopus? Wineoctopus? Wine-octopus? Wino-octopus?