Linheraptor artwork spotted in Japan!

Dave Hone of Archosaur Musings kindly sent me a picture he’d taken at the 2011 Dino Expo held at Tokyo’s National Museum of Science and Nature.

It’s pretty gratifying seeing the painting in this context, as a solid reality and part of an exhibit. I’m looking forward to doing more of the same, as Dave and I have another little collaboration in the works.

Quetzalcoatlus animated progression

I forgot to make my now traditional animated Gif of my Quetzalcoatlus painting so with it being a busy month for non-blog work I thought I’d chuck one up.

It’s pretty clear from watching how the painting came together that I’m going off half baked and things are developing quite organically.

What’s also clear is when I got a hand from Dave Hone to fix the anatomy!


Oh, and a little hint of what’s been keeping me busy….

Quetzalcoatlus: Big Bird goes Postal

Welcome to a dinosaur free painting!  Nup, no dinosaurs here! And before I’m lynched for suggesting Quetzalcoatlus is a bird in the title, there are no birds in this painting either.

Quetzalcoatlus is a Pterosaur, and so far as we know, the largest animal known to have flown. Once you start  imagining something as tall as a giraffe with the wing span of a Cessna flying about it begins to boggle the mind.

When I decided to make this painting on a bit of a whim I didn’t realise what a contentious animal Quetzalcoatlus was. Since its discovery more than 30 years ago it has yet to be properly ‘described’ by science, in part because its discoverer has hoarded it away and allowed only a tiny few workers in the area to examine the fossil. Despite 30 years of promises to spill the scientific beans, the beans have remained in their er.. scientific tin….

Pterosaurs as a group of animals are also contentious. Debate flows back and forth about many aspects of their anatomy, how they walked, how they flew, and what they ate.

In the end I was inspired by recent work carried out by Mark Witton and Darren Naish which suggests the family which Quetzalcoatlus belongs to may have had a lifestyle similar to ground based predatory birds like Hornbills or Storks. Mark is a talented illustrator in his own right and several inspiring images accompanied the release of the paper. Giraffe sized killers stalking around gobbling stuff up? What’s not to like?

A big thanks to Dave Hone for advice on the bizarre anatomy of these creatures.

PS: The little guy about to be dinner is Champsosaurus, he’s weird in his own right, if you want to know more I’ve discussed him elsewhere.

Daddys version #2

My just turned 5 year old son presented me with this awesome picture the other day.

Being the brilliant father I am I’ve since forgotten what he said it was… ahem.

Of course, all I saw was what I wanted to see, so to me it was the most awesome abstract expressionist drawing of a giant robot in a forest I’d seen.

Being an old hand at ripping off my kids’ ideas I couldn’t resist.


I traced over the lines I liked and embellished a bit, but when Isaac handed me the picture this is pretty much what I saw.

I shocked myself by drawing it in Flash(not my favourite software). Colouring was done in Photoshop. The giant robot in forest theme is pretty reminiscent of the Iron Giant. (if you haven’t watched ‘Iron Giant’ watch it now, it’s bloody brilliant)

I dunno, maybe the death ray should have been shoulder mounted……

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!

Revenge is a dish best served by…Godzilla!

Recently got the terrible news that a friend and co-worker had been run down by a garbage truck. Thankfully Ching-Yee survived albeit with some pretty bad injuries. Now she’s stuck in hospital while she waits for her broken bits to get better. Ching’s husband James put out the call for her wide ranging artist and animator friends to get scribbling to encourage her to do some of her own drawing and keep her mind occupied, this is my small contribution. Predictably, a large scaly animal destroys something!

That’ll teach garbage trucks to pick on small animators on scooters.

War Paint: Styracosaurus

Argh! Angry spiky lizard parrot thing! Run away!

This guy has been slow going as I’ve been spending my days waving the digital brush at Blue Rocket Productions, so it’s been a little difficult motivating myself to do it all over again after the kids have gone to bed.

Styracosaurus has been a favourite of mine since I was a kid. The bizarre combination of spikes and scales and beak all brought together in a rhino sized bundle of weirdness is just so appealing.

My references were as wide ranging as Rhinos, Chameleons and Black Cockatoos, and of course some scientific literature about ceratopsian anatomy. I did play with the markings quite a bit before settling on the pattern you see for his ‘war paint’. I wanted to do something different to what I’ve seen elsewhere but keep it well within the realm of reality, so I found some great existing lizard markings which were similar and expanded on them to keep it functionally realistic for something this big…. I hope.

This painting started out as only a few gestural lines on paper, scratched down as I walked through the office on the way to do something else…The final image was already resolved in my head, and I knew I wanted to do it, but being time poor I didn’t want to lose it when I ran out of time and/or the next idea came stomping through and swept it away. It was almost like a post it note to do that thing, you know, right between doing the shopping and putting out the bins.

I’ve got another 3 paintings on the back burner, for those of you tired of seeing dinosaurs, at least one of them isn’t about large scaly extinct animals (it has an actual person and…uh…. angry clockwork monkeys!),  though I’ve committed to do another dinosaur pic before Xmas over here so it’ll be a little while yet before the blog sees something less dinosaurish!

Listen to the Scientist..

So a little while ago I posted my version of Diabloceratops here.

It was inspired by Dave Hone hosting a guest post from Palaeontologist Jim Kirkland introducing Diabloceratops.

In the comments a discussion emerged about the nasal horn and Jim Kirkland, one of the authors of the paper, pointed out that Diabloceratops had a small secondary horn in front of the other one.

I’d just done a rough image and by the time I started on a polished version I’d completely forgotten the correction. *Sigh*.

Accuracy, and particularly anatomical accuracy, are the bread and butter of palaeontologists, they live and breathe this stuff. Why is it so important? Simply put, those details allow palaeontologists to understand the flow of life through time, the interrelatedness and relationships between animals, diet and even sometimes their behaviour.

Of course, that it was one of the paper’s authors who’d pointed out the facts and I’d blithely gone on my way without taking a moment to learn something new is pretty damn poor too!

So, if you’re out there Mr. Kirkland, here’s a very small, but not necessarily insignificant, revision.(now with bonus prettier frill)

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!