Monday, June 13, 2011

Giant Australian Cuttlefish

Just finished this painting today. It was inspired by a cover photo on an old Australian Geographic, which just screamed out WATERCOLOUR!

The giant Australian cuttlefish (Sepia apama) is a master of disguise. The skin of cuttlefish is made up of  layers of different cell types - chromatophores, iridophores, and leucophores - that give it an infinite array of colours. Chromatophores are literally little balls of colour that are so tightly bound up that they are invisible. However, when the muscles attached to the pigment cell is flexed, it stretches the ball out into a disc of colour. The muscles are wired directly to the brain so that pigment changes are instantaneous as information is perceived by the eyes and transmitted to the brain.

Iridophores lie beneath the chromatophores and contain multiple tiny platelets that reflect light, producing the iridescent and metallic colours. Beneath the iridophores are leucophores, which reflect the predominant light in the environment (i.e., they appear white in white light, blue in blue light etc.).  Besides the very impressive colour displays, cuttlefish are able to add another dimension to their camouflage, by creating protrusions in their skin with papillae, they can also mimic textures as well as colours.


  1. Gorgeous colours and my favourite undersea animal too! I think cuttlefish have a whole culture or intelligence unknown to us, or I like to think that anyway.

    Great go girl!

  2. Awesome, I do love cuttlefish AND art. Wanna marry me? :D

  3. Hi Nicola,

    Beautiful painting. Do you sell any of your work?

    1. Hi Mama Wolf,
      Thanks for your comment and for looking at my art! I haven't tried to sell any of my work at this point, but there's always a first time! ;)

      All the best,