Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Dinosaur Takes Wing

Although a scene like this would have taken place 160 million years ago, I want the image to look like it was captured yesterday by a wildlife photographer's camera.

Anchiornis in Flight
It appears in Ranger Rick, a magazine dominated by wildlife photography. So I blur the background to suggest depth of field. I spotlight the action with an area of soft dappled light cast from the tree behind us.

The following 1-minute video gives a glimpse of the process.


(Link to Facebook video)

I make the paper-over-wire maquette by photocopying a flat plan drawing of the animal two times onto card stock. Then I make a glue sandwich with aluminum armature wire in the place of the bones. Then I bulk up the maquette with epoxy putty.


Here's an 8 minute video on YouTube of all three dinosaur paintings for Ranger Rick.

(Link to YouTube video)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Courtship Display

What good are feathered "wings" if you can't fly?
Khaan mckennai, oil on board by James Gurney
Well, if a predator or another male threatens you, you can spread your wings and tail to make yourself look bigger. And you can attract females.

And since you are lightly built, your wings can help you jump a little farther and higher.


Clark, J.M., Norell, M.A., & Barsbold, R. 2001. Link and Link
This little dinosaur is Khaan mckennai, an oviraptorid. It's possible that the beautifully preserved fossils above represent a male and female.

I did these sketches in watercolor and gouache to show the art director at Ranger Rick, a magazine for young naturalists produced by the National Wildlife Federation. 



Here's a little video taking you behind the scenes (link to Facebook). The artwork appears in the new March, 2017 issue of Ranger Rick Magazine.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Taking a Dust Bath

Sparrows do it. Donkeys do it. Elephants do it. And ostriches do it. It makes sense to me that a big feathered dinosaur like Yutyrannus would take a dust bath, too. 



I checked with a couple of paleontologists and they said that the 30 foot long tyrannosaur relative would more likely squat down with their belly to the dirt than roll over on their side.



In this short video of the process, I take you behind the scenes. (Link to Facebook video)

My sketches are in gouache, which gives a quick impression that I can show to the art director of Ranger Rick Magazine, where the illustrations appear in the March 2017 issue.


I make a new maquette because none of my existing dinosaur maquettes are in this pose. The head looks big because of camera distortion. 

The sculpt is made with a 2-part epoxy called Magic Sculpt over a core of Sculpey. I use aluminum wire for the armature. (Thanks, Clayton) Even though the maquette doesn't have a feathery surface, the big planes are clear, so I can light it and have a sense of light and shadow.
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Monday, February 20, 2017

New Dino Paintings: Flyover Preview



Here's a flyover preview of three new feathered-dinosaur paintings. (Link to video on Facebook)


The set-up for shooting flyovers is all home made. The camera is suspended from a Lego cart (tires removed). That cart rolls on two dollar-store metal broomsticks, pulled by a geared down Lego motor. Smoke machine is off to the right.

I'll be sharing more about these paintings over the next few days.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hotel Catalina

Hotel Catalina, oil, 8 x 12 inches, Catalina Island
I painted this view of Hotel Catalina about 35 years ago. The layers of paint are fairly thinly applied on a panel that was pre-primed with a warm acrylic ground. For the window details, I used a 1/4 inch synthetic flat brush, using Liquin for the medium.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Tennessee man builds Dinotopia in miniature

Photos by Jack Vance of the Johnson City Times
Bill Lankford, 78, of Johnson City, Tennessee, built this amazing miniature of Dinotopia.

He worked on the 12-foot-long creation for over a year. It includes stairways, bridges, canals inspired by scenes from Waterfall City, Pooktook, and Sauropolis. 


His wife Linda helped him by sculpting over 100 humans and dinosaurs using epoxy sculpting compound

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The miniature world has been packed up and shipped to Taipei to be exhibited in the Miniatures Museum of Taiwan.

Feature article about Lankford's Dinotopia miniature.