“Mantis Shrimp” Print

From $5

One of the strangest and most colorful animals in the world!

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Imagine a strange creature with amazing abilities. It can move faster than any animal on Earth, more than the human eye can detect. It can move so quickly that it creates explosive shockwaves to stun or kill and can punch through glass. Not only that, but it has the most highly developed vision known, able to see trinocularly in each eye and into wider spectrums of color and light. They are highly aggressive toward any living thing in its proximity and are difficult to remove once entrenched.

(I always hated that intro style as a writing device, but in this case, the subject matter warrants it.)

Obviously, this is the part where I tell you that, “no, it’s not the monster of a Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster,” but in fact, a real, living animal. The mantis shrimp is a marine crustacean, similar in body shape to a lobster and slightly smaller. It has some astounding abilities and attributes, summarized in that hackneyed intro paragraph. But more importantly, they are incredibly beautiful and strange-looking creatures, even among the highly unusual life that can be found in the sea. This particular species, the appropriately-named peacock mantis shrimp, is perhaps the most colorful and dazzling type of all.

Without question, this is the most difficult thing I’ve ever drawn. Even working from the dozens of photos I collected, the anatomy of the shrimp (further complicated by the dizzying colors of it form) proved to be an impossibly complex task to recreate. As is my artistic tendency, I left no detail undetailed, and labored to convey all its weird bits accurately. No doubt I still didn’t get things right, but I’ll give myself an A+ for effort, anyway (while working on this at some events, I received compliments from not one, but two marine biologists who praised my visualization of the beast, in addition to countless others who had the same passing fascination with it as I).

I’ve always been fascinated by the weirdest and most obscure animals known to science (which explains my lifelong passion for insects). Species like the mantis shrimp demonstrate the diversity and bizarreness of biological evolution. It’s incredible that something so intricate and colorful, with such amazing abilities developed naturally on the same planet as more mundane creatures like horses and trees. It’s truly an alien life form.

I had drawn this over a year prior to finishing it, with the intention of coloring it all digitally, but that never materialized. It languished in storage for many months before I finally decided to just do it in the traditional fashion I normally do. I wanted to capture the underwater setting, which I think I achieved nicely with the reflected water and floating flotsam.

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