About mattvr

Animator/Painting Guy/Pointless Waffler

I like your old stuff better than your new stuff #2

Vintage art, circa sometime in the mid 90′s. This is the second version of a piece depicting a predator chasing two Leaellynasaurs across a river. (Acrylic on Board)

The first version had an Abelisaur, back when some research indicated a closer tie between South American and Australian fauna in the Early Cretaceous, until Allosaurus seemed to be a safer bet. Now I’d need to do a version with an Australovenator , feathered of course!

I was already stubbornly feathering my Leaellynasaurs for cold conditions back then, despite no direct evidence of any insulation.

Apologies for the poor photography…Image

Not my best work.. and probably heading upwards of 15 years old! But fun to post during a busy patch.

Bellubrunnus Work in Progress Animation.

Apologies for the lack of updates, I’ve been really busy in the background on various projects. Here’s a work in progress animation of the Bellubrunnus painting.

In retrospect I should have spent more time on the composition, it really could have used another animal in there for example.

Anyway, enjoy another peek at my scattalogical process!

Bellubrunnus: Cute Fuzzy Death from Above

In the midst of painting my first pterosaur for Dave Hone he approached me asking if I could do an ‘emergency painting’ for another little critter who’s description was much closer to publication. Bellubrunnus rothgaengeri is a fossil of a juvenile pterosaur closely related to Rhamphorhynchus.

As usual it was hard to say no when Dave showed me the fossil. I’m not at the bleeding edge of pterosaur knowledge but I could recognize several interesting features I couldn’t recall seeing in other animals. The first thing to leap out was the forward curving wing tips, giving the wings quite a different shape from classic pterosaurs. Dave also pointed out that Bellubrunnus had more flexibility in its tail than related species. Be sure to check out Dave’s post on Bellubrunnus at the Musings which I’m sure covers more of the anatomical detail.

So I began sketching away.. actually this sketch was what I sent Dave as a reply when he asked if I wanted the task!

Which he liked. I then made a few more to try out positioning and posture, keeping in mind we needed to clearly show the important anatomical features, the shape of the wing and the flexibility in the tail. I took inspiration from bird photography for the next one.

I really liked it but Dave pulled the whole scientific thing, turns out it was primarily a piscivore(preyed on fish), curse you evidence! I certainly wanted to avoid the old skimming pterosaur trope, and Dave was quite happy with the first gestural sketch I’d done as it showed the features that differentiated Bella from its relatives, so we went with that as a general guide, though we needed to lose the tree as the fossil indicated a coastal habitat.

Fleshing out the initial anatomy went pretty well, though we hit a few snags with the orientation of the fingers and my new favorite body part the ‘uropatagium’. Yup, I spent much time on Skype stuttering trying to pronounce ‘uropatagium’… which is the broad skin between the legs. It’s a bizarre bit of anatomy that attaches to the outside toes which then fold back over the sole of the foot.

Anyway, after much too-ing and fro-ing we got the anatomy in a happy place and I could render it all up. Here’s the final piece.(click to embiggen)

I did joke that I was incapable of producing a painting without an approaching storm in the background.. seems to be holding true for now!

Ray Bradbury passes…

Ray Bradbury, one of the ‘old men of Science Fiction’ has passed away at the age of 91.

Bradbury wrote in the era when ideas we consider tropes now were, well, ideas. When they thought there may be canals on Mars, before man had been to the moon. It was a golden age of science fiction writing.

When I was in my early teens I discovered a pile of old Science Fiction short story compilations in the shed. My Dad had read them back in the 70′s, but they were really stories from as early as the 40′s.

Bradbury was among them, telling stories with the twists so common to the form, but tying it in with heart, thoughtfulness and sentiment. His prose was almost poetic even while he built tension in stories like ‘The Fog Horn’, or bordered on the theological in ‘The Traveler’. My favourite by far though, and my favourite short story of any author is ‘A Sound of Thunder’.

Bradbury’s tale of vainglorious hunters going back in time to hunt a Tyrannosaurus and unwittingly affecting their future would, if published today, be considered a rehash, a cliche. Except Bradbury did it with such class, subtlety and so perfectly for the short story form, to me everything since seems trite.

In 1983 Bantam Books published ‘Dinosaur Tales’, an illustrated collection of Bradbury’s short stories about dinosaurs. Among them was ‘”Besides A Dinosaur, Whatta Ya Wanna Be When You Grow Up?“(alarmed grandfather looks for a substitute obsession when his grandson begins sharpening his teeth), “The Fog Horn“(a terrifying and mournful romance between a lighthouse and….. something ancient) and “A Sound of Thunder”.

And so came together my favourite short story, and my favourite illustrator, William Stout, who had provided the beautiful drawings to accompany the story. There’s little I can say about how much this double whammy affected me as a developing artist, except perhaps that one day I still want to make a short film that’s entirely true to the story and illustrations in that book. I’ve posted a couple of illustrations from the book below, both are by William Stout.

Queenstown Memorial Animation

Hi, just a quick post between many other things to show off a bit of 3D animation done recently to visualize a 10m tall sculpture proposed for a Park in Queenstown, Tasmania.

Proposed to commemorate a disaster which claimed 43 miners lives in 1912.

For the 3D enthusiasts out there, all work was done in Lightwave 11, it was my first test of using the new instancing feature in that software. Compositing and polish in After Effects.