Can you help me paint the detail of octopus tentacles?
Simon Durant, England
Octopus tentacles (which are arms, to be more accurate) are made up of two surfaces. There’s the upper, rough part, which tends to be roughly textured, and the lower surface containing the suckers, which is generally smooth. There are many variations found in real life, so don’t feel like you need to stick with the pattern I’m drawing here.
Both surfaces will generally have glossy highlights, but feel free to try different combinations and colours. Just look at an animal visual encyclopaedia or do an internet search for ‘cephalopod’ and you’ll find plenty of ideas.
Here I’ve chosen a classical archetype of paired suckers with an overall reddish hue. I give the upper part a bumpy, glossy texture using custom brushes and keep the suckers relatively smooth and glossy, but overall maintaining a loose, painterly style. I spend an hour working on the image, but I’m sure I could spend much longer refining the detail and cleaning things up. The important thing is to first subdivide the two surfaces, then sketch in rough oval shapes for the suckers. Always work big to small.
You can save time by using 3D sculpting packages to create a base for your designs.
Always try to come up with your own story behind your characters – this will make them memorable.
Use a smooth brush for the suckers and a textured brush for the upper surface.