Drawing dinosaurs: how is palaeoart produced

Long time collaborator Dr. Dave Hone has been kind enough to feature my recent Bellubrunnus painting in his Guardian Blog Article about Paleoart.

It’s been quiet around here lately as I discover just how long it takes to start a new business! Small Island Studio will be launching at the end of this week, keep your eyes peeled for some dinosaur related animation in the near future!


Spinosaurus Mum takes a break..

Well, I couldn’t leave well enough alone and kept throwing more time and energy into the Spinosaurus sketch! In some ways it touches back to the first paleo gig I did a few years ago for Tor Bertin who was reviewing Spinosaur material.

Back then I’d hoped to paint the living animal, but had to satisfied with doing some studies of the jaws instead.(I still had more fun than any sane person should have)

Recently inspired by the skeletal reconstruction by Scott Hartman with Andre Cau and Jamie Headden I thought I’d have a stab at painting the new look properly.

Hopefully I did the guys’ hard work some service, the new sail extends much further down the tail. The pose has no scientific verification, though I did opt for something different than the usual explosive action poses we usually find Spinosaurus in.(at least it isn’t beating up Tyrannosaurus!)

What can I say? It’s a mum, eating a snack on her break. With a cheeky Ornithocheirid pterosaur waiting for some scraps. You might have noticed the little guy has changed since the last post, well, I discovered there wasn’t really a way for it to be clinging on with the wings in that position. Here’s a before and after…

A Blast from the Past!

Sometimes going through your old art work can be a bit cringe worthy. Things you thought were really good back then are… well, not so great when you’re carrying the hard earned experience you have now.

Then again sometimes it’s just fun, and makes you realise you haven’t changed much at all. You still like the same things and probably always will.

This was the feeling I got when I was thinking of posting an old animation of Lleallenasaura
I’d done in association with a new artwork of the little Australian dinosaur. The only place I could find it was as part of an old demo reel, in amongst some other quite fun stuff. I was going to edit and just post the Lleallenasaura, then caught myself smiling at much of the stuff I’d put on the reel and thought it would be fun for more people than the 2 companies who gave me work back in the day to see it.

So if you like dinosaurs, a journey through the least carbonated beer in history, bathrooms with dodgy plumbing, rockets or fish have fun watching my Demo Reel from 1996!

Technical details: Made in Alias/Wavefront Autostudio on a Silicon Graphics Workstation.(was worth in the hundreds of thousands of $ range, lucky me got to sit in front of it!)

Finally a REAL Predator..

This one is definitely for the dino-nuts out there….

This was a bit of fun having a little poke at the idea that a Tyrannosaur’s small arms precluded it from being predatory. The reasoning being that it would be unable to ‘grapple’ with its prey.

That it doesn’t take much of a leap to start thinking of plenty of modern predators which don’t qualify based on the same criteria made the idea appealing to me.

I’m not even sure it’s a controversial topic or whether the dust has settled on the issue. What I do know is that I’ve seen those little arms stopping Tyrannosaurus being able to hunt in as varied places as quite crazy ID blogs all the way to a mainstream TV documentary with the backing of a somewhat controversial palaeontologist.

I drew it all in ball point pen, which is a bit unusual as I’ve taken to drawing in Photoshop lately, the text is digital though.

When I was at school I spent all day drawing with a ball point pen. It was all I had and my teachers didn’t mind because I’d always get the work done as well as drawing away in the back of my books, on my school diary, my ruler… you name it. I still find it really comfortable to draw with, and confidence building as when you make a mark that’s it! No erasing.

Weapon: Tarbosaurus

It’s been a few months since I did a painting for Dave Hone’s paper on selective feeding behaviour of tyrannosaurs. When Dave first approached me I have to admit I was looking forward to painting some dinosaur carnage. Instead the paper was about a Tarbosaur delicately nipping stuff  it had found lying around, so I had to satisfy myself with a quick and dirty scrawling of reptilian mayhem….

Until now.

click for enbiggenment

I think the title is self explanatory.(must resist explaining) Sanja found this one a little uncomfortable to look at, especially the look in the poor Saurolphus’ eye….. not a good place to be.

When Dave’s paper was released much of the media jumped all over it as if it was all about Tyrannosaurs exclusively scavenging. So I thought I’d do my bit to tip the scale, at least artistically.

Luckily a bit of science came out just in time for my Tarbosaur reconstruction, with W. Scott Persons and Philip J. Currie detailing how Tyrannosaurs had some serious ‘junk in their trunk’ with massive tail muscles adding some serious er, horsepower(?) to therapod locomotion.

To the huge number of people who participated in last week’s competition, ‘What the heck is this?’ the truth is now revealed, it’s a big fat dino-callus. Dr. Mark Witton nailed it!

Mark wins a poster print from my new poster/art/print store over there ——->

The rest of you can buy things if you fall down and bump your head and suddenly feel like owning posters of prehistoric things.(it might happen)

While you recover, here’s a couple of full res images from the painting. (actually, you might have to click on them, they don’t fit in the blog!)

I’ll be back soon with some work in progress shots and making of stuff…..

Merry Feast of Sol Invictus!(the Sun Undefeated)

What the heck am I on about?

It’s the Christian emperor Constantine’s clever hijacking of the Roman pagan Midwinter Festival, originally ‘Saturnalia’ then later the celebration of ‘Sol Invictus’ – the ‘Undefeated Sun’ and reinventing it as the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Saturnalia was celebrated close to and around modern Christmas, with gift giving, hanging of pine branches in the home and singing in the streets, it’s easy to see some of the origins of our modern celebration. Being ancient Rome they did do a few things slightly differently, like having massive orgies, abandoning morality, and the novel idea of ‘swapping places’ with the slaves for the day, I guess we can’t have everything.

Though we can’t be too harsh on old Sol, he paved the way for that other crazy(to the polytheist Romans) monotheistic cult from the East, Christianity.

So why am I rabbiting on about ancient Roman festivals? I’ve been having a ‘Historical’ couple of months listening to Mike Duncan’s excellent podcast,  ‘The History of Rome’ .

If you’re so inclined it’s well worth a listen and definitely best to start at the first chapter. Highlights include the most profitable Fire Fighting Service in history, the notorious emperor whose name lives on as synonymous with debauchery and excess  but which actually means ‘little boot’ after how cute he looked in his soldiers outfit as a child, not to mention Hannibal, Spartacus and Caesar. If you think politics is brutal or scandalous these days…

Great listening while you draw.

In other news it’s looking less and less likely I’ll complete my Paleo Project Challenge painting before the end of year deadline. It’s proving more difficult to work on as the silly season approached and doing very similar things at work has made it harder to wield the digital paintbrush at night. On the up side Sanja(my brilliant wife and home based art critic) finds it difficult to look at as it’s (intentionally) a little disturbing, so it’s having the desired effect! (not bad for ‘another dinosaur painting’)

Anyway, here’s a little snippet to whet your appetites until I can finish it off.

Merry Christmas!

Tarbosaurus: early sketch

This is one of the initial sketches done for Dave Hone’s Selective Feeding by Tyrannosaurs paper.

I initially proposed 3 images for the paper, unfortunately due to time constraints I couldn’t include this part of the ‘story’, so I wound up with the diptych.

Still, there’s something nice about a wandering Tarbosaurus looking for an easy snack!

Dinophiles will notice some display plumage on those tiny arms. I guess the other thing about this image is the closed mouth. Usually these guys are portrayed majestically roaring or (er, magnificently?)gaping, which is a pity since they have such a cute overbite!

Pink Dinosaurs for Breast Cancer Research!

The guys over at Art Evolved have set up a Pink Dinosaur Fundraising Event for Breast Cancer awareness.

Part of this has been to challenge to paint or draw a pink dinosaur and send it in, with each entry triggering a donation for cancer research.

You can check out the details of how to send in your picture here.  All those cartoony people I know get out your Wacom tablets/Pencils and start scribbling for a good cause!

The image I’ve submitted is of Leaellynasaura, who spent half the year in polar darkness. I figured that gaudy Mardi Gras colours would have had no impact whatsoever on it’s ability to blend in to its surroundings in the dark!

Too long without a Dinosaur

Ok, so this looks nothing like the chicken picture(or whatever the heck that thing was) that I said I was working on in that post below.
I decided to do a little side project with one of my favourite animals, Styracosaurus.
Previously king of the bizarre head gear, now ousted by such freaks as Diabloceratops and that emo fringe bearing Kosomoceratops. Someone had to give the old favourite some love.

So I thought I’d better give Styracosaurus some attention before returning to polar dinosaurs(oops, did I let that slip?). Ok, so it’s a bit of a cliche, the charging horned dinosaur, but I really do need to get it out of my system.

Work in progress. Working in the values. Colour to come later.

PS: if there are any passing palaeontologists let me know what you think of the anatomy!