paleoartist

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A Book That Will Make You Question Everything You Know About Dinosaurs (via io9)

Annalee Newitz

How did dinosaurs look? The only way any of us know is from looking at images created by paleoartists, people who specialize in imagining extinct creatures by studying their skeletons. The problem is that skeletons only tell us part of the story — they reveal nothing about body weight, muscle, coloration, and behavior. Now, a new book called All Yesterdays — half science, half-science fiction — offers us a radical new way of looking at dinosaurs, based on contemporary science. We have an incredible gallery of the paleoart from the book.

Written by paleoartists C.M. Kosemen and John Conway, with an introduction by renowned paleontologist Darren Naish, All Yesterdays is the kind of wonderful, provocative thought experiment that only exists at the nexus of science and art. You can pick up a copy online.

Corresponding images above (starting from second image)

This is a Majungasaurus crenatissimus, by C.M. Kosemen. One of the points that Koseman and Conway make in the book is that there are certain stereotypical images we get of dinosaurs. We always see them in profile, because that’s how skeletons look best. Here we see this fierce predator from the front, and get a good view of its crazy wattles.

Stegosaurus and friend, by C.M. Kosemen. Another thing you NEVER see in paleoart is what exactly dinosaurs might have looked like when they were mating. This picture has the virtue of being cute as well as suggestive. The first image you saw in this post, of the T. rex sleeping, is another thing you basically never see in paleoart. We always witness T. rex chomping on its prey. And yet predators spend most of their days sleeping and digesting, preparing for the next high-energy hunt. So your typical T. rex pose would probably have been more like that adorable cat curl than a bloody fight.

This is a Leaellynasaura amicagraphica, by John Conway. This is an experiment with imagining what these small dinosaurs might have looked like. The artists note that paleoartists always assume that dinosaurs were sleek, their bodies in the exact shape of their skeletons. But few animals today are shaped exactly like their skeletons. Maybe some dinos were fat with giant, tufted tails.

This is a plesiosaur, by John Conway. Here the artist is imagining this giant ocean predator in an atypical paleoart pose — it’s hiding in the muck and algae near the shore, waiting for prey. It’s very likely dinosaurs would have had camouflage, and therefore when we imagine them we should consider that their coloration might have matched the colors in their habitats.

These are proceratops, by John Conway. These are a small species related to Triceratops, and we know nothing whatsoever about how they acted. Kosemen and Conway point out that we should look to contemporary animal behavior for clues. They note that goats climb trees, even though their skeletons don’t suggest tree climbing animals. Maybe proceratops was the same way?

This is a picture of the infamous Homo diluvii, by C.M. Kosemen. He and Conway share this as an example of how easy it is to “read into” a skeleton whatever you want. The Homo diluvii was something that 18th century scientists first sketched, as a way to explain the skeleton of a giant salamander they’d discovered (the fossil has since been properly identified). Because they couldn’t believe a salamander could have been that big, they drew this humanoid and decided it was a radically new kind of human who had lived on Earth long ago. Kosemen and Conway hint that our current paleoart of dinosaurs might be just as laughable and mistaken as this Homo diluvii.

In the final section of All Yesterdays, we go into the realm of science fiction. An imaginary dinosaur paleontologist discovers ancient fossils from the late Quaternary and tries to sketch what they might have looked like. Here, Kosemen shows the way this dino paleontologist might reconstruct a baboon, by assuming that its body was in the exact shape of its skeleton and that it probably looked kind of like a reptile.

Here is John Conway’s representation of how our dinosaur paleontologist would draw a cow, based on its skeleton. Obviously it must have been a sleek, muscular animal!

And here is a house cat, drawn by Conway channeling the dinosaur paleontologist. No creature could possibly have fur on its face, since dinosaurs don’t. So this is clearly how a cat looked.

I need some help

Y’see…

I kind of want to become a paleo-artist. Someone who makes their living by interpreting extinct ancient creatures such as Dinosaurs.

I’m not all that confident in my skill as a paleo-artist however as I haven’t drawn proper scientific dinosaurs until three-four years ago, and even then it was spotty, and very rare that I did draw any. 

This picture here is what I’m working on right now. It’s a dinosaur called Falcarius (I chose it because it looked so weird). (it’s a WiP, I wanted the focus to be on the dinosaur, but it will be reaching up to a branch)

The trouble is, I’m not too sure if I’ve drawn it’s proportions correctly or if it’s anatomy is sound. So I want help in correcting my anatomy and feather distribution (I’m used to drawing dromeosaurids, so I know I can go oot with feathers).

If you’re a paleo-artist or know of one, can you help me with my dinosaur, please?

Thank you.

My Interview With Paleoartist Brian Engh

Yup Brian Engh, the guy who started the Twitter - storm #buildabetterfaketheropod, illustrated the recently discovered Aquilops americanus and so much more. His #buildabetterfaketheropod featured in Scientific American. To purchase a print of his Aquilops americanus here is a link.

It is awesome that he did this interview, I have been a fan of his work for a few years, so without further adieu….


Question 1.) How old were you when you first started drawing dinosaurs?

A.) I think 3 or 4.

Question 2.) Who did you look up to in your youth?

A.) Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, Steve Irwin and Jackie Chan.

Question 3.) What was your first paleoart piece?

A.) Spinosaurus aegyptiacus for Tor Bertin’s 2010 paper which can be found here:

http://www.palarch.nl/2010/12/bertin-tor-2010-a-catalogue-of-material-and-review-of-the-spinosauridae-%E2%80%93-palarch%E2%80%99s-journal-of-vertebrate-palaeontology-7-4-1-39/

Question 4.) Do you have a favorite dinosaur or group of dinosaurs?

A.) Honestly no. I’m fascinated by animals and ecosystems in general. Monsters, dinosaurs and other prehistoric life forms compel me creatively because there’s so much unknown stuff to imagine about them and their world, and yet the paleo world is deeply connected to modern lifeforms and ecology. As completely unscientific as this sounds, I get a mystic feeling from paleo, like there is ancient knowledge and encoded in stone, and if we can decipher it we can unlock secret insight. Cuz, you know, science is basically spells and potions and repeatable miracles. When I’m making a paleo illustration I feel like a wizard conjuring an archaic dragon, unlocking it from its prison of stone to be released into the future!!!!!!!!

Question 5.) What is your favorite paleoart piece you have done?

A) Whatever the next one is. By the time I’m done with a piece I’m usually sick of it, but starting a new project and conceptualizing about all the possibilities is always fun and exciting.

Question 6.) What is your process for creating your paleoart in general?

A.) I go outside, I go on adventures, I catch frogs n bugs n stuff, I try to draw trees and plants (and get frustrated and baffled by their structural complexity),  think about stuff a lot, watch wildlife documentaries, read lots of articles & scientific papers, amass photos of fossils and living animals/plants/etc, discuss ideas with any science minded friend or colleague I can get to talk to me, do lots of rough sketches, eventually settle on a layout, do a meticulously detailed render in pencil, get frustrated with it, sit and think about it a bunch, rework a large section of it, scan it, color in photoshop.

Question 7.) What is your muse, for all of your art, music & music videos, paleoart, animations… where does all the inspiration come from?

A.) The simplest way to answer that question is to say that the only things that I’ve found that can temporarily reduce my rate of ideation or creative drive is hunger, thirst or lack of sleep. Everything else benefits creative output, even mundane and tedious tasks, and (perhaps especially) the pressures of society trying to keep me from doing what I want creatively.

Question 8.) What drives your fascination for fictional and non - fictional prehistoric beasts? They are a distinct theme up in your paintings, sketches, music, videos, and animations.

A.) See #4.

Question 9.)You have openly stated that you have strong disagreements to pop culture portrayals of dinosaurs. Specifically in one article you posted “Feathered Dinosaurs Are Scary as Hell” in 2013. This year you started #buildabetterfaketheropod on social media, it has caught on fast and is trending. Do you think more people are aware of the inaccuracies of pop culture vs science, from 2013 to 2015 and do you think the trend for scientifically accurate dinosaurs will ever hit pop culture?

A.) Basically I have a bunch of ideas about dinosaurs & monsters that I would absolutely relish the opportunity to actualize in one creative medium or another. So when I see that the chance to do something really high-profile and high-production value is squandered on something dated, or re-hashed, or underdeveloped conceptually it drives me fucking crazy. When I’m not doing paleoart or investing time in my own projects I work for the entertainment industry doing freelance animation & illustration & I’ve even done a tiny bit of VFX work on big Hollywood feature films, so I’ve seen first hand how the current system holds back a mass of incredibly talented creative people’s true potential. But the majority of the public has no idea it could be getting something way better than Jurassic World - or whatever other mega-budget movie / pop music / bad TV ‘documentary’ is fed to them - so they don’t demand anything better and nothing changes. The non-artist executives and producers and way-too-powerful marketing firms stay employed and empowered, and scientific advisers and concept artists remain peripheral to the actual creative core of people who make the final decisions. And most people are content with that. But there is definitely a growing population of people going “Hey, how come Prometheus wasn’t as good as Alien? Same director with more money, right?” And similarly there’s a growing population of people who are at least casually aware that dinosaur science and dinosaur art have changed a lot since '93, and that some really stunning and fascinating discoveries have been made. The great thing about the internet is that even a fringe weirdo like me can reach out to people like you and connect with an audience who is receptive to art and ideas that don’t follow a standard, easily-marketed formula. For me #BuildaBetterFakeTheropod is about showing people that there are a ton of ideas out there that could be compelling and cool and cinematic & which would fuel a richer discourse about science and nature than a bunch of completely made up and/or grossly inaccurate and exaggerated gray CG monsters.

Question 10.) Your paleoart work with Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology on Aquilops americanus has circulated the internet in news a good deal, from Discovery News, Sci-News, The Guardian, BBC News… the list goes on. How does it feel to see all of the hard work really appreciated by the public and academics?

A.) Seeing Aquilops all over the internet and in the LA Times was a nice surprise. I had no idea it was going to get that much coverage (small ornithischians generally get slept on). That was a nice affirmation of the months of work that went into that project. It was weird, however, how fast the news cycle blows over, and how little traffic I saw on my website despite the mainstream media attention. That experience taught me that a lot of people seeing (and clicking “like” on) your work does not necessarily equal a lot of people contacting you for more work, buying posters or even showing any interest in your other work. That was a good lesson in how publicity works.

Question 11.) Do you have any more paleoart planned for the future?

A.) Yes. I have a ton of folders of rough sketches and photographs and ideas and research.

Question 12.) You wrote a piece, on National Geographic and your Spinosaurus art called “You could have been looking at something new right now…” where you point out the similarities in your art piece and the one featured by National Geographic.  In your opinion, do you think that it helped or hindered your clout as a paleoartist? Was it helpful in the sense “Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.” and people made the connection as yours being an original? Or did it hinder you, since it was not your original art used, but rather a very closely derived piece?

A.) I have no idea. The frustrating thing was that everybody in the online discussion got hung up on whether or not the Nat Geo illustration was derivative or plagiaristic rather than whether it was furthering science and paleo art. The core of my argument was always that paleo artists need to step up their game because there's STILL ONLY 2 depictions of any Spinosaurid hunting behavior  (that I’m aware of)  1) standing on the shore/wading in the shallows like a heron or 2) hunting fully immersed at the surface. But the new evidence suggests some interesting things about Spinosaurus’ lifestyle that have yet to be explored in paleoart… Whether or not that article hurt my reputation in the paleo community I can’t say. I think some people thought I was being an arrogant dick for pointing out what they considered to be minor similarities, while some people thought the Nat Geo illustration looked really strikingly similar to mine and thus it was completely reasonable to point it out. Still others thought I was a jerk for even publicly criticizing it (or anything for that matter) at all. All I can say is if I was a jerk then I hope my own work will be held to an even more rigorous standard.

Question 13.) Do you have any words of wisdom for those getting into the paleoart field?

A.) Well… I’m sorta just getting into paleo art myself (Aquilops was only my 3rd paid paleo art gig), so probably not. The best advice I’ve got is: “Please try to destroy me.”

Question 14.) Do you have any more artistic creations you are working on at the moment, in music, video, animation, or anything else, that we can look forward to in the future?

A.) Yes. Lots. Stay tuned to my website

http://dontmesswithdinosaurs.com

for a bunch of new upcoming work. I recently finished a couple illustrations of a plesiosaur called Aristonectes for a book coming out of the Melbourne Museum on the Eromanga Sea, which was an ancient inland sea that once filled Australia’s interior. That book will be coming out in August I think. I also just finished the single largest piece of paleoart I’ve ever done - a big illustration for an interpretive sign overlooking the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trackway in Moab Utah, commissioned by paleontologist ReBecca Hunt-Foster of Utah BLM. That will be up on my website hopefully withing the next couple weeks (so end of June), and as an actual physical sign on site sometime after that. I also recently finished some animation depicting the Viking myth of Ragnarok for a show that will be airing on the History channel, but I don’t know the air date on that yet. I’ll be putting my section of animation up on my youtube channel/website as soon as I get around to putting it all together as a standalone short. I’m also working on another Earth Beasts Awaken video, and a long-overdue second music album called Gather Bones that I will be releasing in the fall. Oh, and another paleo illustration for a paper by Matt Wedel, which should also be published by the fall sometime. In addition to my website

http://dontmesswithdinosaurs.com

you can find me on twitter @greygriffon and there is facebook page for my music at

https://www.facebook.com/historianhimself

people can also subscribe to my youtube channel here:

https://www.youtube.com/user/HistorianHimself

Love in the Time of the Chasmosaurs - Great 2014 Dinosaur Gift Guide

I love paleoart.  It’s my favorite kind of art, and it adorns my walls in what some might claim is akin to a cluttered fashion.  But I like it that way, and can never get enough of it.  How else are we ever going to be able to “see” a fleshed-out dinosaur in its natural habitat?

If you haven’t already, please check out all three installments, written by David Orr over at Love in the Time of the Chasmosaurs, parts one, two, and three.  It has a heavy emphasis on paleoart, perhaps partly because it’s awesome, and also perhaps partly because it supports the amazing artists who recreate lifeforms we will never see again with life-breathing vibrance.  (Support is especially vital when paleoartists have to deal with their work being stolen, sometimes by toy companies, sometimes even by what appears to be the filmmakers of the upcoming flick Jurassic World).

You can find dinosaur books relatively easily these days, (provided you know which ones to buy and where to look for them–Amazon.com seems to stock a wide selection of excellent ones these days), dinosaur documentaries (both of good as well as possibly dubious quality), fossil casts, and other such things are fairly easy to find.  Prehistoric Times magazine often has a great showcase of paleoart, too (the current issue even features an interview with renowned paleoartist Julius Csotonyi!).  I love and and all things paleo, but David is right to place special emphasis on the artists for a change.  Let’s help support the paleoartists, and get some knock-out representations of times gone by to give as gifts (to your friends, family, or even yourself!).

wsj.com
Did Dinosaurs Have Lips? Paleoartist Puts a Face on Ancient Bones

Paleoartist Tyler Keillor’s job at the University of Chicago Fossil Lab with paleontologist Paul Sereno is to create ‘flesh models’ of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals based on fossil evidence—giving creatures that died millions of years ago skin, features and a story.

Ever wonder if there’s a place for art in science? This article proves there truly is. Keillor uses modern, cutting edge tools as well as very low tech (but briliant) techniques to create his sculptures, which bring prehistoric animals to life.  It talks about his artistic decisions which are not only rooted in intuition, but also in science. And, no, he didn’t just study science to get to where he is. This portrait of an unusual and fascinating profession is fascinating.

I want to see a book about this guy-preferably a big, beautiful coffee table book that showcases his art, too.

smithsonianmag.com
Paleoartist Brings Human Evolution to Life
For Elisabeth Daynès, sculpting ancient humans and their ancestors is both an art and a science
By Helen Thompson

How to make the lovely faces you see in museums, and the lovely people behind them.

This hyper-realistic depiction of Lucy comes from the Atelier Daynès studio in Paris, home of French sculptor and painter Elisabeth Daynès. Her 20-year career is a study in human evolution—in addition to Lucy, she’s recreated Sahelanthropus tchadensis, as well as Paranthropus boisei, Homo erectus, and Homo floresiensis, just to name a few. Her works appear in museums across the globe, and in 2010, Daynès won the prestigious J. Lanzendorf PaleoArt Prize for her reconstructions.


Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/bringing-human-evolution-life-180951155/#kUFAsxsScq04ICI8.99

© Mark Hallett, Paleoartist, Illustrator

As a paleoartist, a term coined for an illustrator who researches and recreates the life of the past Mark draws, paints, sculpts and conducts research into how ancient life forms may have looked and behaved for a wide variety of American and Foreign clients.
His work has appeared in Life, Smithsonian, Natural History and National Geographic, scientific journals, popular books and in Natural History Museums.

To see more work: markhallett.salzint.com

A drawing of Hatzegopteryx by talented young paleo artist Sam Lippincott! Hatzegopteryx rivals Querzalcoatlus for the title of biggest pterosaur, with a wingspan around 36 feet! To check out more of Sam’s awesome drawings, click the link! http://thenaturalworld1.blogspot.com/2012/12/top-ten-favorite-dinosaurs-by-zack.html?m=1 #hatzegopteryx #quetzalcoatlus #pterosaur #reptile #reptilesofinstagram #animal #animalsofinstagram #drawing #art #paleoart #paleoartist #paleontology #paleontologist #extinct #prehistoric #massive #recordbreaker #samlippincott #dinosaur

Watch on socialnn.tumblr.com

Watch paleoartist Tyler Keillor build a model reconstruction of newly-discovered dinosaur Pegomastax africanus.

Even some of the most progressive paleoartists are so begrudging to give their raptors feathers - usually just dusting them with a thin coat of fuzz before slapping big feather-fans on the arms and tail - but always give these scuzzy raptors blazingly bright colors, even though they would be the opposite of helpful on a desert-dwelling predator.  It’s like no paleoartist has ever heard of a bird that wasn’t a songbird or a parrot.

So apparently is Love your Artist week! To celebrate I’d like to feature some of my favorite artists in no particular order that you should follow asap:

thethreehares - her bizarre style is absolutely unique with A+ lineart, A+ colours and just A+ everything. She also does one of my favorite renditions of the asoiaf characters, especially the unjustly forgotten minor ones! 

paleoart - one of my fave paleoartist out there. I particularly love his pterosaur restorations, but really everything he does is pure golden!

tigernaute - follow her for sharp lineart, stunning horse and human anatomy and A+ taste in post-apocalyptic/desert/urban outfits!

caboodlederps (art blog: caboodledoodles) - where should I start? From the fact that she have mastered human anatomy to the point that she can stylize any kind of character/body type, or from the fact that she can draw both super serious and absolutely hilarious stuff??

bidonica (art blog: bidonicart) - another fav asoiaf artist of mine. She did the art for the Game of Thrones Season 3 - Robert’s Rebellion extra that you can watch here! How cool is that?

justeletemps - another master of human anatomy (especially face expressions) that do some of the best character portraits I’ve ever seen

poupon (art blog: poupart) - an infinite source of inspiration that never fails to impress with sick painting technique and superb comical spirit

buzzfeed.com
You Won't Be Able To Recognize These Modern Animals Drawn Like Dinosaurs
They didn't forget about humans either, because we're animals too.
By Natasha Umer

Basically, Hollywood dinosaurs just look like fossils with skin draped over it. That’s because those artists tend to base their drawings on the fossils alone, while ignoring what the animal might have looked like with layers of fat and other things.

Paleoartists John Conway and C.M. Kosemen drew animals like the way Hollywood draws dinosaurs to show us why dinosaur art can sometimes be so flawed.

watchvideoscats.blogspot.com
You Won't Be Able To Recognize These Modern Animals Drawn Like Dinosaurs

They didn’t forget about humans either, because we’re animals too.

This is what Hollywood thinks dinosaurs looked like:

This is a scary monster that will EAT YOU.

Universal / Via giphy.com

But this is what scientists think dinosaurs might have looked like:

Isn’t this little guy just so colorful and fabulous?

Discovery / Via youtube.com

Basically, Hollywood dinosaurs just look like fossils with skin draped over it. That’s because those artists tend to base their drawings on the fossils alone, while ignoring what the animal might have looked like with layers of fat and other things.

Paleoartists John Conway and C.M. Kosemen drew animals like the way Hollywood draws dinosaurs to show us why dinosaur art can sometimes be so flawed. And you can barely recognize the animals. Check it out:

This is what a baboon would look like. Isn’t it horrifying?

The baboon probably looks so scary because of its accentuated teeth. Intimidating teeth are a common dinosaur trope.

“In the real world, even lizards have a sort of gummy tissue covering their mouths. The teeth, even in really large-toothed animals, are seldom visible,” C.M. Kosemen told BuzzFeed over email.

C.M. Koseman / Via amazon.com


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hoihancungdamuon.wordpress.com
This Is What Modern Day Animals Look Like If They Were Drawn Like Dinosaurs

They didn’t forget about humans either, because we’re animals too.

This is what Hollywood thinks dinosaurs looked like:

This is a scary monster that will EAT YOU.

Universal / Via giphy.com

But this is what scientists think dinosaurs might have looked like:

Isn’t this little guy just so colorful and fabulous?

Discovery / Via youtube.com

Basically, Hollywood dinosaurs just look like fossils with skin draped over it. That’s because those artists tend to base their drawings on the fossils alone, while ignoring what the animal might have looked like with layers of fat and other things.

Paleoartists John Conway and C.M. Kosemen drew animals like the way Hollywood draws dinosaurs to show us why dinosaur art can sometimes be so flawed. And you can barely recognize the animals. Check it out:

This is what a baboon would look like. Isn’t it horrifying?

The baboon probably looks so scary because of its accentuated teeth. Intimidating teeth are a common dinosaur trope.

« In the real world, even lizards have a sort of gummy tissue covering their mouths. The teeth, even in really large-toothed animals, are seldom visible, » C.M. Kosemen told BuzzFeed over email.

C.M. Koseman / Via amazon.com


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