Weapon: WIP and Adventures in Colour Spaaaaaaace!

So I’m fairly ticked off. I make a painting, post it on the blog, stick it on Imagekind to sell, all goes well… until I see it on another computer.

Grey mud. Lost my pretty blues and yellows to the ham fisted colour overlord that is Windows.(apparently looks even worse on Mac!) So what happened?

Experienced Graphic Designers will know I fell foul of not setting up my colour space properly. What’s colour space? (did you even ask?) I’ll tell you anyway you poor buggers.

All the devices and software we use use their own set of colours to display an image, some have a wider range than others. So when something is produced in one place it gets reinterpreted when you import it or display it somewhere else. Many things share the same set of colours, but plenty don’t. You can also make a colour profile that travels with the image which smart apps and hardware can use to help get the colour as close to the original as possible. So I really should have been working in my destination colour space. sigh.

So now to a little test. Below is a comparison of the original image, and a new one with the colour space corrected. Now for me the new image is too gaudy in Firefox(the filthy liar), but in dedicated Windows apps it seems to match my Photoshop colours.

I thought I’d do the usual gif sequence so you can see how disorganised I was as the painting came together, but one step along the way merits a little extra attention..

Yup, frenzied scribbling!

I’ll often do this trying to get the feel of something without getting stuck doing details. It seems to work for me to get the main masses and directions working, or at least to grab that fleeting picture inside my head and dump it on the page. Anyway, here’s the work in progress animation, enjoy!

Now with working animation!

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…..

What the heck is this?

So, because I’ve hit a slow patch and I’m battling my current Tarbosaur painting, I thought I’d do another sneak peek but with added mystery!
I’ve added a feature to my big unpleasant meat eater which I haven’t encountered in other dinosaur reconstructions, but which I did see on ostriches at that great bastion of zoological parks, Zoodoo, here in Tasmania.
So all you paleo buffs out there, write your guesses on a stamped, self addressed envelope… or just in the comments section below to attain the glory of being first to identify the amorphous lump depicted in the above picture!(and possibly a prize!)

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!

Tarbosaurus tucks in! (more Chinese Dinosaur Art)

Dave Hone over at Archosaur Musings had the good fortune to do an investigation into some tooth marks on the upper arm of a really well preserved Saurolophus (a kind of Hadrosaur, or duck billed dinosaur).

The marks came from Tarbosaurus, a very close Asiatic relative to that other, really famous dinosaur… you know the most famous dinosaur.(well known for eating Lawyers off toilets)

So when he asked me if I’d be willing to wave my digital pen around a bit to make some pretty pictures… er, I mean sensible illustrations, I was happy to oblige!

I already had something in mind, Tarbosaurus charging into the unfortunate victim with its jaws agape, using its weaponised head as a giant battering ram/cookie cutter! There’d be blood and maybe some tastefully rendered guts….

Of course Dave’s study didn’t actually reveal the scene I’ve described(poop!). Instead it does that really great thing Science does, uncovers something which changes your perception of nature.

As it turns out the Tarbosaurus found the Saurolophus lying around, already dead and half buried with pretty much only the arm above ground. So it did what anything offered a free lunch would do, it snacked out. I’d probably do the same thing if I came across a block of chocolate sticking out of the ground…. or……. er…. anyway…

So this wasn’t quite as exciting as my scenario, which I was considering pitching to Dave to use as an illustration of what didn’t happen. I reckon I could have sold him on that angle too as I knew, as usual, the media would let Dave down and make his study all about something it wasn’t. (seems things are already heading that way, see below*)

As well as being poorly drawn, this picture has nothing to do with Dave's paper.

The cool thing the paper shows is that Tarbosaurus was a discerning, even delicate, eater. Instead of gorging the arm whole, Tarbosaurus has used small nips and bites to get the good bits off. So here we have a 5 ton predator with impossibly big teeth the size of railway spikes, using them precisely to get at all the good bits. Like me separating the white chocolate from the milk chocolate on a block of top deck which I may or may not have found, er, sticking out of the ground.

So, by about now you’re saying “Shut Up and show me some pictures! It’s not the Optimistic Writing Blog! I could be over on Facebook telling everyone I’m making a cup of tea!”

Dave needed 2 images, one of each biting strategy used by Tarbosaurus.

We had some lovely discussions about how much flesh would be left on the bones and I found some really gross reference images of skinned crocodiles and their stomach contents, as well as many and varied decomposing animals.

Dave has a penchant for melaninistically challenged (black and/or white) animals and as it seems to suit Tarbosaurus I set out to make him monochromatic.

I have to admit I was a little daunted. At the start of the painting I didn’t have a firm idea of how I was going to approach this animal’s skin. I hadn’t done a complete image of a large, scaly, dinosaur in many years.

So I did a lot of research which has hopefully made for a convincing animal.

*There’s been a long running debate in Palaeontological circles about whether that really famous dinosaur, you know the one, was a hunter or scavenger. Because the Tarbosaurus in this study did what anyone who likes chocolate would do in a similar situation, some of the press are already crying “this proves it was a scavenger!!!!!!” Of course it does nothing of the kind, but it is the sort of sensationalist stuff that gets lots hits on websites..

Plus, anyone knows that given the opportunity I will ambush chocolate as well as scavenge it…