Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Scientific Illustrator? Part 2 : Stream-spawning Sockeye Salmon

The next commission in the series of salmonids was a male spawning sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) of a stream-spawning variety. 

The significance of the stream-spawning aspect of this fish was that stream spawning sockeye males develop a significantly less pronounced "hump" when spawning due to selective pressure from bear predation as opposed to the salmon that spawn in lakes. The thinner build makes it harder for bears to latch onto, and salmon that spawn in lakes are usually more out of the reach of bears than the stream-spawning ones. 

This one, in terms of finding references, was significantly easier than the kunimasu. See examples below:

As usual, I began with the outlined proportions.

Then proceeded to work on the head. 

With this fish, I paid particular attention to the various patterns, scratches, and coloration present on that characteristic green sockeye head. 

With this one, I opted to start with the flank as opposed to the fins, as I felt this was a better method. 

When scaling, I start with creating the set of scales along the lateral line—to make sure I have the correct number and the spacing/size. On this fish my scaling was significantly more detailed and neat. 

One salmon has a lot of scales. I also decided with this fish to do the scales prior to more detailed body work in order to avoid needing to change coloration to fit the dullness of the scales, which were created using white at a low opacity. 

Looking better....

The caudal fin is underway.

Here you can see the processes involved with drawing the caudal fin: first comes ray definition, then the gradual addition of layers to build up the final image. 

And the final version:

One more sockeye to go!

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