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….

Run Like a Champsosaurus!

It probably won’t stop you getting horribly consumed!

I seem to be a bit fixated on feeding large predators innocent bystanders at the moment.(please post psychological analysis in the comments section)

Champsosaurus is a new discovery for me. I was looking for a victim for the predator in my next painting and stumbled across this little guy. It belongs to a line of reptiles that developed parallel to crocodiles and looked a lot like them, likely with a similar lifestyle. Though they lacked the armored scutes and had much more lizard like skin. Choristodera experts feel free to critique his anatomy.

The freaky bulging skull with little eyes stuffed down the front and nostrils pushed all the way to the end of the snout had instant appeal.

I have to admit, I’m almost sorry that he’s about to become a meal……… almost.

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!

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!)

Toothy sneak peek..

Started drawing for my painting for the Paleo Project Challenge. I was enjoying drawing stupidly big choppers so I thought I’d share!

This painting is going to be the flip side of the Tarbosaur feeding paintings I produced for Dave Hone’s paper on Tyrannosaur selective feeding.

I other words, it’s an excuse to paint a giant scary monster doing horrible things rather than delicately nipping at the choicest bits of something that’s already missed the opportunity to have horrible things done to it!


Styracosaurus: Curse you scientists and your scientific accuracy!

My little shout out for some anatomy help in my last post was helpfully answered by Christopher, who pointed me at a very helpful paper by Michael J. Ryan, Robert Holmes and A. P. Russell on Styracosaur cranio facial anatomy. It even had pictures which always makes it just a little easier for artists.

So thanks to Chris’s link I was able to restructure my Styracosaur’s head quite a bit.

Getting things accurate is pretty important in this kind of work. The bread and butter of Palaeontolgists seems to be detail and accuracy, so they kind of like it when you get it right too!

Messed with values and anatomy elsewhere some more as well.

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!

New Chinese Dinosaur Art #1: Linheraptor exquisitus

For those not in the know I recently scored a pretty exciting gig with the Beijing Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology & Palaeoanthropology.

China has had a bit of a renaissance of Dinosaur discoveries in the past decade, with incredibly well preserved fossil animals being unearthed with astonishing regularity from fine grain stone which revealed features such as feathers and skin impressions. Many discoveries have changed the way these animals were understood.

Luckily for me an opportunity arose through Dr. Dave Hone, a Visiting Scholar at the Institute doing his Post Doctorate under Professor Xu Xing,  a world renowned Palaeontologist.

I met Dave through his popular blog: ‘Dave hone’s Archosaur Musings’ (Hooray for the internet!)

So I was given the task of doing the first life reconstruction of two animals, one of them was Linheraptor exquisitus.

I was supplied with a draft of the paper as well as photos of the skeleton….

Image copyright Beijing Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology & Palaeoanthropology, contact Dave Hone for permission to use elsewhere.

It’s a Dromaeosaur, a cousin to the well known Velociraptor. He’s about average size for this kind of animal, 1.8m long.

Reading the Scientific Paper gave me real appreciation of the depth of knowledge and level of detail Palaeontologists use in their study, it was a real education.

I was given plenty of advice and guidance through the process, though there was quite a bit of research and a bucket load of reference images of birds, animals and landscape. The anatomy, environment and behaviour needed to be accurate and Dave was very gracious fielding an awful lot of questions.

So, to coincide with the official release here is the ‘official’ reconstruction!(click image to embiggenate)

As you can see it’s covered in feathers, based upon fossil findings of related animals. The feathers had to conform in shape and layout to known relatives.

Colour and patterning were based upon environmental and lifestyle factors and modern counterparts with similar lifestyles.

The image was painted in Photoshop, which allowed plenty of flexibility, which was good as it went through many revisions along the way!

I’d like to thank Dave for giving me this great opportunity.

Be sure to take a look over at Dave’s blog for the full details.

Matt (email details are on the about page)

Dead on Time#6.. just in time!


After a week and a bit of sick kids, hospital visits and little sleep I’ve finally wrestled the ‘Dead on Time’ game cover into submission!(with thanks to Sanja for running interference with the kids this afternoon!)

It’s been a fun painting to do with the last few elements falling into place quickly (who’d have thought painting rocky mesas and cliffs would be so much fun?)

It’s still pending approval from Paul of course, and the text is tentative depending on what the publisher wants to stick in there.

I was wondering what to do about the aliens as retro game aliens tended to be pretty garish colour wise. This was so they’d stick out from game backgrounds, but also because of the limited ability of old machines to display many colours at once. In the real world it’s rare for large animals and machines to be really brightly coloured, so they tend to read as small or unrealistic.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to combine the bright colours with something I had to sell as ‘real’ until Gabby brought in a beetle from the back yard.

It’s a Christmas Beetle. The beetle appears to be either Red or Green depending upon your viewing angle and the angle of the light hitting it. So I decided to follow that effect for my greebly aliens, though it’s more suggested than over the top.

I think it also suggests ‘other worldly’ technology… ooerr!

I’ve got a couple of other gigs coming up that are quite different. I should be able to show one of them but the other is hush hush for now!

Once again, feel free to comment, abuse, laugh at or otherwise make your mark…


BTW: I’ve got a couple of back logged bits of concept art which deserve an airing as well.

I’ve updated the Dead on Time image with what I’m hoping is an embedded colour profile which will give a much richer image, not the poo-brown version I originally posted.