Piraiba illustration for National Geographic Museum

Posted: March 10, 2015 in art,John_Dyess
Tags: , , , , ,
Paraiba largest Amazon Catfish

Paraiba largest Amazon Catfish

This is the first illustration that I completed for the National Geographic Museum exhibit Monster Fish: In Search of the Last River Giants, which opens on March 26,in Washington D.C. I received the first fish to illustrate on October 29,2013. Below is the email sent to me describing the Paraiba.

Hey John,

We are ready to get started are detailing our first section… The Amazon. I wanted to get you started thinking about this illustration and also get the contract paperwork underway.

For this area we are looking at illustrating the Piraíba Brachyplatystoma filamentosum in a 8’x4′ vertical format. The Piraiba is basically a big catfish known to live in deep pools with faster moving water or rapids as apposed the the Arapaima which can gulp air and live in low oxygen water. There is a good amount of lore about this fish and while showing the fish in its habitat is the priority we would like to give the sense of mystery surrounding this fish by setting up a scene /split screen where the fish is shown in its habitat in some action pose in the bottom 3rd of the frame while the top shows a native fisherman in background on skiff cautiously looking for fish. Sunset may add some mystery?

We will set up a resource folder for this illustration on our ftp site which you will be able to access research material we gather for you as well as upload your sketches, Hi res files etc. Its been a while so feel free to call or email me if you have any question.

I will get your contract started and send out for you to review.

I sent three sketches of the Paraiba and number 3 was chosen to illustrate.

Paraiba sketch 1

Paraiba sketch 1

Paraiba sketch 2

Paraiba sketch 2

Paraiba sketch 3

Paraiba sketch 3″

I created an ink drawing of the Paraiba using a .oo3 Rapidograph pen on art board. The drawing is 31″ wide x 19″ high. I made a digital file of the drawing and added color on a separate layer in Photoshop. The fisherman scene was created as a separate illustration and merged digitally.

Paraiba ink drawing

Paraiba ink drawing

Paraiba drawing detail

Paraiba drawing detail




  1. Glenn Myers says:

    As per usual with you this is awesome work!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s