Green algae, Micractinium


Micractinium is a genus of green algae found mainly in marine and fresh water, and only occasionally in soil. Algae are often only noticed when they amass and become visible to the human eye, after they have reached a local population of millions. Micractinium is an organism that starts off as a single cell but quickly develops into a colony. Filled with chlorophyll (a substance allowing them to convert sunlight into energy), giving them a green appearance and confining their existence to surface waters.


In this image, I wanted to show a single cell alga (upper left) together with a colony of algae (centre) with the projecting filaments spawning new cells that would themselves become part of the colony. On completing my research on Micractinium and its higher classes, I created a simple outline. I generated a number of circles of various sizes in the software program ‘Illustrator’ and laid them out in roughly the composition I wanted. I then added anchor points around the circles allowing me to ensure that none would be a perfect circle. The filaments were also created in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop was used to render everything. All algal shapes were masked and filled with varying shades of green to help me arrange and order them. Using a brush with multiple heads and varying pressure and taking each alga in turn, I drew lines across the circles, and by varying the greens I created a sense of volume. I then used a spatter brush to highlight the centre and a dark smooth fuzzy brush to darken some edges, bringing the forms forward or pushing them back. I then added a black background (black backgrounds instantly make anything look cool!), and finished off with volumising and gradient layer effects to the filaments. The final layout was completed using the software program ‘InDesign’.