Ammonite

Description

Ammonites, ancestor to the nautilus, dominated the seas for millions of years. They are thought of as highly colourful, and since they were mainly in shallower seas, this would not have been an effective mode of camouflage, therefore it is thought of being for social reasons, attracting mates etc. This particular species of ammonite was highly abundant in the early Jurassic and is known to have had thin radiating bands of darker reds and blacks. Evidence for this exists in traces of deposits inside the shell aperture during pauses of growth.

Process

Doing a reconstruction requires a lot of research, which might inevitably lead to holes in knowledge and therefore a need for “artistic” interpretation. In this case there were a lot of verbal descriptions but no pictorial. Therefore, I had to make an educated guess to the exact colours, and as these creatures are invertebrates (no internal skeleton) there are no body remains, so I had to use existing interpretations of other illustrators with regards to the body type. I got the few fossil pictorial references that I could find on this species and built up from there in Illustrator, creating outlines for the shell, body, and mantle. I then exported to Photoshop and masked all the important areas out. Using a variety of brushes, I shaded and added texture. I used layer styles to add more dimension. For the background, because I did not want to make any reference to a specific place, I opted for a general habitat view. I used pictures of algae and heavily distorted them and used a lot of pencil and wet brushes in Photoshop to texturise.