I'm not much of a digital builder. I tried it a few times but I find the process much less creative and I can't get a good flow. So it's always straight up physical bricks for all my builds.
I settled on the idea of merging a ship with a giant squid right away after I read about the BrickNerd contest. I also ordered a bunch of parts, like the tentacles, sails, string, stickers, and a few minifigures to complate the crew. Once I decided to go for the squid I knew I wanted to have a play feature to allow it to raise its bow/head. Since I only had two month in total, until the deadline of the competition, I needed a solid frame structure that would inlcude the play feature and that I could build quickly, without the need of too many trail and error modifications later in the building process. So I used the technic frame of the Silent Mary which already included the hinged solution for the play feature.
Going directly to building the frame I did a lot of research about hull techniques, masts and rigging. At that point I decided I wanted to use the grey technic panels for the lower hull but had yet to figure out how to connect them in a way that would allow them to flex a little while providing enough stability. After completing the frame I build the main and the forecastle deck, then outlined the dimensions of the upper deck and the poop deck. Moving on to the black hull panels of the gun deck, the overall proportions where set, which allowed me to decide on the best position for the three masts and I was able to complete all decks. The poop deck and captains cabin below as well as the squids tail, maw, tentacles and masts are all modular, held in place with technic pins. I build them as separate assemblies before attaching the grey technic hull panels. This allowed me to keep the overall build size maneuverable so it was easier to handle while building the technic panel hull sections. The stern was a bit of trial and error until I had found the right wedged panels that allowed for smooth transiotions. Next I moved on to the squids head that I build around the maw.
After the hull, deck and guns where complete I moved on to the masts, dyed the original Lego sails - wich looked way to clean for the ship - completed the rigging and added a few details and stickers. I had ordered four blue 32x32 baseplates which I used to build the base. At that point there where about 5 days left before the two month deadline so I couldn't be to fuzzy about the look of the waves and water splash details. I felt like the ship all by itself looked a little lonely so I decided to add the outrigger canoe which forced me to rebuild a small section of the waves. With 3 day left and the clock winding down I rushed to take some photos. Lucky enough it was a beautiful overcast day and I managed to light everything with sunlight, as the build didn't fit in my lightbox. Some post processing in Photoshop and the thing was ready to be submitted a day before the deadline.