● parts of the model
   - frames
   - postures
   - colors
   - units
   - components
● patterns
    and displays
   - basics
   - plaid
   - dymantic
   - mottle
   - saddle
   - stripe
   - flicker
   - zebra
   - lateral silver
   - double signaling



The aim of this page is to describe the construction and use of a graphic model to express ‘squiddish’, visual skin displays in reef squid Sepioteuthis sepioidea.

The model was created and refined as a result of a field study off the Caribbean island, Bonaire. The original idea was to draw the graphics for this species’ patterns and displays for an ethogram. Then things got out of hand…

Squid communication is composed of visual units and components on their body as well as arm postures. The color components and reflective units can be turned on and off and are grouped together for complex inter- and intraspecific communication.

Like squid skin patterns, our graphic model is composed of components. It was created in Adobe PhotoShop® and consists of a dorsal and a lateral frame of a squid. These two shapes can be filled with background colors and overlaying units and components for displays. Additionally, postures can be changed by turning combinations of multiple layers in the PhotoShop® program on and off.

This model demonstrates an assortment of intraspecific displays of S. sepioidea, including variations in patterns between males and females and across different age groups, as well as interspecific displays such as camouflage patterns.

Adobe PhotoShop® was used to create the graphic model as it has the very useful feature of ‘layers’, which function like the overlay technique with overhead transparencies. To avoid misunderstandings, it is necessary to mention that the layers in Adobe PhotoShop® are not arranged like the layers of different cell types in the cephalopod skin. However, the arrangement of the model is similar to the arrangement of specific background colors which are overlaid by units and components adding up to patterns and displays.


Adobe Photoshop® screen shot. Different layers can be turned on and off in the layer menu, shown here on the right side of the screen, and thus made visible or invisible on the workspace.

(c) 2005 by Ruth Byrne