Saturday, October 31, 2009

Transitional ART Forms: October 2009

Time for the second installment of...

This time for the month of October 2009. This was a slightly slower month then last one, but then again I had my pick of the crop for older then September posts and pieces for the first installment. We'll have to learn together whether there are busy and/or slow months for palaeo-art on the web.

I will quickly say in advance that this particular Transitional ART Forms is very heavily biased towards my own web browsing sites and locations, and as of such I most certainly have missed some great art. I'm humbly asking all of ART Evolved's members, readers, and casual visitors to keep their eyes open for Palaeo-art during their surfing, and simply fire off the links of any you find to I have no problem following it up from there, but I can't add something if I don't know it is there.

With that in mind this month you'll notice a large body of 3D work from the online communities I'm involved in. To any 3D artists who visit from those same sites, but whose Dinosaur related art was not included here, I have had to make a few cut offs. I potentially could have posted another 20ish pieces, but in the end decided not to as the models and/or shaders in those pieces were not created by the "artist" who posted it. Though I am not opposed to people purchasing available models, I do not feel comfortable claiming that someone who simply reposes and renders someone else's hard worked model as them self the true artist behind the piece . I will likely be doing up a more extensive article on my philosophy behind this reasoning, but I state it now for any who might take offense.

Undoubtedly October's most productive and prolific artist has to be Mo Hassan. Not only did he manage to draw 24 Sauropods in 12 hours, but he also managed to bring us 5 more letter installments of his A-Z of British wildlife!

Brad McFeeters noticed a lack of coverage, and especially reconstructions, of the new primitive Chinese Tyrannosauriod Sinotyrannus kazuoensis and decided to remedy the problem himself!

Speaking of new Tyrannosaurs, Zach Miller produced this rather lovely portrait of Alioramus altai.

Over on Etrilobite our hero Walcott started off with a bit of a mystery, that has now resolved with a record number of cartoon Trilobites in one place (well at least I'm making that claim!).
Over on The Tyrannosaur Chronicles, Traumador the Tyrannosaur has some new and old coelurosaur adversaries to worry about in his new adventure...

Paleoartist presents us with Xenacanthus preys upon Dipnorhynchus

japa has an entire series of pieces depicting Dinosaur reproduction. While a very interesting concept I opted to keep ART Evolved's PG rating, so if you want to see these pieces you can here, there, here, and there. I could over post this lead in piece to this series, of two Tyrannosaurs falling in love.

Among japa's other great works was this dromeosaur trying to kill a little mammal I had to post.

MNArtist has been working up a storm creating new textures and colour patterns for the commercially available 3D Tyrannosaur by Dinoraul. This is his family of Tyrannosaurs to demonstrate his new range of colours.

Though MNArtist has posted quite a few variant colour schemes he is working on (for sale soon I believe) this Kingfisher inspired Tyrannosaur hit a cord with me.

So what has the guy who built those Tyrannosaurs been up to himself? Dinoraul has been producing at his usual rate of at least one new prehistoric creature a week, and this month the highlights were a Deinonychus here...

(by Dinoraul) and finally a Skorpiovenator here. Though he had 2 more that you can check out by clicking on Dinoraul's name.

David Maas gives us a preview of his Plagiosternum.

Though it has been out for a while now, T. Tischler's impressive restoration of Australovenator is still making the rounds in the palaeo-blogging community.

Mark Witton was responsible for this picture of the new transitional Pterosaur Darwinopterus modularis that has become (by my count anyway) the most used palaeo-art image of the month!

My personal favourite piece of palaeo-art (like my opinion matters) was this restoration of Alioramus altai by Jason Brougham.

Palaeontologist Brian Beatty gives us a preview of his collaboration with Palaeo-artist Carl Buell to reconstruct a new species of Behemotops.

David Maas presents a very interesting and thought provoking look at how different mediums used in Palaeo-art can effect the viewers interpretation and acceptance of the animals restored within them. Hopefully he will consider an expanded article here on ART Evolved.

The Next Gallery, First of the New Year!

Who can believe it, the Sauropod gallery marks the last entry into our time capsule collection for 2009. Our next gallery will be going up in the new year!?! Oh how time flies when your having fun!

Based on how busy most people's lives get around the holidays, especially in the time right before this gallery should be going up, we administrators have decided that for January's capsule we'd push the due date back a week. That way everyone doesn't have to worry about their Palaeo-art and submitting it till after the holiday's have settled down.

As an early X-Mas present we decided to make this gallery something of a free for all on the subject matter. It is nice to not always have criteria for one's art. We are also hoping this will encourage everyone to consider creating some palaeo-art in an otherwise stressful time of the year. As again you can do nearly anything you'd like!

The topic of the new year's capsule will be "palaeo-environments", and they will be going up January. 7 2010. So again that is an extra week before these pieces need to be in!

The criteria for this gallery is purposely nebulous so as to give you as much free reign as possible, while maintaining some accuracy restraints for our more scientifically concerned members. Our only requests are:

  • Only one approximate time period be depicted, and that the animals and plants you choose originate from it. We'd also request you consider geographic restrictions of your chosen organisms, and don't have beasts together that were in reality completely separate from each other geographically despite living at the same time.

  • Your piece show some nature of interaction in that environment. We simply mean here we don't want a simple portrait of an animal floating in empty space. That same portrait if framed by a reconstruction of the environment though would be fine, as it shows the plants that the animal coexisted (aka interacted with) when it was alive. If you're not keen on rendering the plants of a time period a piece depicting the interaction of just some of the animals would be fine too (even if this depiction happened in free floating paper space). Essentially we want either multiple animals (of the same or different species) and/or a full reconstruction of the environments for this gallery.

Many of the pieces we have recieved for our previous galleries meet these critera. So don't feel we're demanding something drastically different or involved. We're just wanting all submissions to the gallery to include these two considerations.

We hope these don't hamper your creative style, and if anything hope it opens them up! We see this as a case for you to create and submit a piece on your favourite prehistoric critter that otherwise probably won't stand a chance of getting its own time capsule, or showcasing your favourite fossil locality restored like its heyday!

So happy palaeo-holidays in advance from ART Evolved, and be sure to check back here January. 10 of next year to see all the prehistoric places that will hopefully be brought back from deep time!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Quick Reminders

This is going to be a big week for posts on ART Evolved. So we just thought it fair to remind everyone to make sure to get their submissions in.

To make sure your art gets featured here either email us at or leave a link for us in the comments section of this post.

First off, in a few days October's Transitional ART Forms will be gathering everything palaeo-art that happened this month. If you did anything remotely arty that involved a prehistoric critter be sure to send us a link. Whether it be a finished piece, work in progress, a recent live blogging, and/or just an article on something topical to palaeo-reconstruction we want to include it!

This will then be followed up on the weekend by the launch of the Sauropod Gallery. Based on the response we're getting this early, this is shaping up to be by far our hugest gallery yet! So make sure you don't miss out a chance to have your work included in this mega Palaeo-art event...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Reconstruction Tips: Flukes Part 1

Welcome to the first installment of Reconstruction Tips. Though these articles are bound to take many forms, but my first few entries are going to be a series that follows my real life "adventures" trying to do a palaeo recreation for an actual palaeontologist.

Given the many mistakes I've made along the way, and that it is a whale I'm recreating (well okay Dolphin technically, but they are just small toothed whales in the end...) I've opted to call these tales (or did I mean tails :P)...

Flukes go on Whales... NOT in your Art!
Part: 1

For (nearly) the last year I have been volunteering at the University of Otago's geology department here in Dunedin, doing both field and prep work whenever I can manage the free time (which has become less and less sadly as of late). The fact I'm based here in Dunedin is a real fluke itself, as the Otago University's head of geology, Dr. Ewan Fordyce (pictured here helping out Traumador the Tyrannosaur), is New Zealand's only professional vertebrate palaeontologist, and the University hosts the countries only publicly funded fossil lab.

Dr. Fordyce has been incredibly supportive and patient with me. As an active supporter of popular geology education, Dr. Fordyce has been instrumental in helping me with several projects aimed at kids. For which I can't thank him enough. He has also guided me in improving my fossil collecting and preparation skills to the next level.

For our purposes here on ART Evolved though, it has been my voluntarily trying to do a restoration of one of his prized "shark toothed" dolphins that we will be concerning ourselves with.

As I established a working relationship with Dr. Fordyce, I saw this as an opportunity to collaborate with a real research scientist and try and get insights into what goes into legitimate scientific reconstructions. Let's say I've learned a lot more then I expected!

It is important to keep in mind that throughout this story, Dr. Fordyce never solicited me for this art. Rather it was I who approached him, and he has been kind enough to indulge me and my mistakes throughout the process. I am not, and was never expecting, to be compensated for these efforts. I simply wanted the chance to work with a real palaeontologist, and get feedback that could eventually help me one day seek out similar gigs. Dr. Fordyce has been more than kind enough to provide me with this "payment"!

Despite not seeking this art out, Dr. Fordyce has expressed an interest in using it in some sort of official capacity. As to what this is I am not currently sure, but I'll be happy with anything!

So with the scene established, we shall start at the only natural point a part 1 of anything can...

The Beginning

Last December I began my volunteer efforts by assisting Dr. Fordyce and a team of honour's students do some field work around Northern Otago. On the drive home I had the privilege of riding shotgun with the good doctor and was able to discuss many things with him on the 2 hour drive (though all his students were too intimidated to sit with him to challenge me for the seat!). One thing that came up was how there were relatively few restorations done of Oligocene whales.

Of course this makes sense, prehistoric whales are not particularly reported unless they still had clear links to their terrestial origin. By the Oligocene period, whales were extremely aquatically adapted and are thus (for whatever reason) not of interest to the general population. This got me thinking that Dr. Fordyce might be in need of illustrations for his specimens.

A Prosqualodon by Geoffrey J. Cox from his excellent, but sadly out of print, book Prehistoric Animals of New Zealand (1991)

It turns out there wasn't the complete void of art as I'd imagined from this brief tangent of the car conversation, but regardless this interpretation got my creative juices flowing. I decided I'd throw together a prototype whale over my X-Mas holidays to impress Dr. Fordyce when I started prep work in the lab after New Years.

There was just one "tiny" thing I didn't do before jumping into this project. I did not once remotely think about referencing anything to base my whale on... (in my defence when I did look for some [the subject of Flukes part 2] there were not many!)

Which leads to first Flukes lesson for anyone wanting to create professional level scientific Palaeo-Art:

Rule #1 of Scientific Restorations: Don't ever recreate any organism simply from memory. Even if you think you know it well!

An obvious point when you think about it, but it is a very important one I've been learning over and over this year! I'm sure many of our more experienced artist readers are saying "duh!", but you need to start with the basic rules before you can worry about the more complicated ones (which I will get to in later articles). That and, I have found even with things I personally know well, I can still never find enough reference pictures and photographs to work off!

Sadly in December of 2008 I had not yet learned this lesson (or any of the others to be covered in Flukes). So we start here on an accidental journey through my development as an artist throughout the year of 2009. This year has seen my skills and capabilities grow at a rate I never would have imagined. A great deal of this is thanks to the challenge of ART Evolved's galleries, and the support and input of our many readers and visitors (a big thank you to you all!).

I hope as you read Flukes and look at my art you'll see the same transformation in my work that I have. More to the point, though this particular post's included artwork will no doubt hurt my credibility as an "expert", as we go installment to installment, hopefully you'll see how the lessons in each Flukes add up to drastically improve my art to the current form that Dr. Fordyce has given tentative approval too!

So with that in mind, perhaps shooting myself in the foot as an authority, I give you my work from 10 months ago (and 3 month pre-ART Evolved forming)...

This was the first take. Though I didn't reference any fossil material, I did model the odd thing after my favourite extent Dolphin species the Pacific White Sided Dolphin (otherwise known as a Lagenorhynchus obliquidens). So things like the colorization and the dorsal fin were based on "something". However when I actually did my research it would turn out this was among my worst options for a living Dolphin to go off...

Here is a close up on the jaws and the teeth. Even at the time I knew they were the weakness of this creation. I had tried to make the body, tail, and fins impressive enough to show what I was capable of. Yet it is the head and its details that make or break any restoration!

For a off the cusp conjuring of a shark toothed dolphin I guess it isn't as bad as you could get. It is painful to look at now, and I wish I'd never shown them to Dr. Fordyce. I created them off of nothing more then what I could remember of some skulls on display at museums around NZ, but whales had never been my primary focus when looking...

I got next to nothing right in these prototype versions. Well okay, other then the tail flukes, which Dr. Fordyce has never once asked to be changed, making them accidental flukes! A big inspiration behind the articles title.

As we'll see in part 2, I paid for this foolish charge in blind strategy. However do not think too cruelly of me please. I'd never worked with anyone on my palaeo-art before, that alone a real scientist. There also aren't that many good easy to access visual references on shark toothed dolphins out there either.

Topping this all off, I hadn't yet consulted Dr. Fordyce on my intention to recreate the whale, so I had no idea which genus of Dolphin he might want me to do. I rendered the above restoration going off my fleeting recollection of several random skulls I'd seen here and there. Though they share the same general make up, they surprisingly differ on the fine details (as all animals do on the genus and species level).

Here were the three shark toothed dolphins that were kicking around in my head. I at the time didn't really have any good photos of any of them, and had no idea which would be Dr. Fordyce's priority.

So I'll end part 1 of Flukes with a guess gaming. Which one of these three skulls would Dr. Fordyce wish to be restored when I finally approached him?

The only hint I'll give you, is that my article's banner may not be as helpful as you think! There are bonus points to anyone who can roughly identify these skulls. Only one has been formally named and described, but a rough comparison to other well known Squalodontoidea will count.

Choice A

Choice B

Choice C

Stay tuned for Part 2, telling the story of my showing these embarrassing first versions of the Dolphin to Dr. Fordyce and through the aftermath learn yet another key lesson in proper scientific restoration!

As a final note, if you were wondering how many parts this series will be, I can not at moment tell you. There are 4 more parts I can do at moment, but my efforts on this project are not yet complete. The dolphin has not been finished to Dr. Fordyce's final specifications, and so I have no idea what the outcome of it all will be!

So I invite you to join me in creative suspense... Can my art meet the final approval of a real palaeontologist? Will my dolphin ever see publication in print or on display someday?

Obviously I have no answers for you now, but hopefully I will in the future...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Palaeo Animation

Wanted to open a new discussion here about art in animation. I've been experimenting with some software called Graphic Design Studio. I want to add an eye that blinks to my camarasaurus head that I created for the live blog but my first attempts have been rejected by my blogsite. I can't upload it. Does anyone out there know if I can save it somehow into a file that is recognised by blogger? Do I need different software? I thought it would be an interesting new gallery - Just short, fun animations- a picture that moves.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sauropod Live Blogging Schedule

Prepare for a Palaeo-art filled weekend online!

We have a number of artists taking up the live blogging challenge in preparation for the Sauropod gallery, and you should definitely take the chance to check out their progress!

First off Rachael's effort is documented here.

Mo will be trying to get an incredibly ambitious 24 Sauropods done in 12 hours, starting Saturday from about 11am GMT and going until 11pm

David will be starting on Saturday sometime between 1 and 3 pm, but thinks likely 2.

Peter starts his Saturday morning (clicking this link will take you straight to Peter's labelled posts).

Zach plans to start Saturday sometime.

Craig will also be starting Saturday (actually Sunday in New Zealand, but he is a day ahead of most people out there) in the afternoon (due to time zoning).

Nima begins his live blogging efforts on Sunday at 3:00 Pacific Standard time.

Finally Sean plans to join in the live blogging, but isn't not sure exactly when he'll start yet (stay tuned)

As this is our first time trying to organize such an ambitious multi person/multi timezone project it is a little chaotic to collect and report at moment. Please bear with us through this experimental first try, and we're certain the results will be well worth it.

Check back this post and its comments throughout the weekend for updated times and links as they become available. Artists please be sure to let us know as soon as possible through both comments on this post, and an email so that the site administrators can update this post itself.

If you're an artist who'd still like to participate it is not too late. Just send us a comment on this post or an email to

Also a note to our participating artists, if you could please create a unique label for this event on your posts for us to link to it would be greatly appreciated!

So please check out all the excitment with our first live blogging event!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Hi everyone - Rachael here

As part of ART Evolved's Live Blog weekend - (Mine's starting early!) I'll be posting the progress of my painting on my blog

I'll be painting live from 10:00 GMT -Friday 16th October- a camarasaurus head . Sadly it's just the painting process that is live not the camarasaurus itself, though that would be really something to write about.

All the gritty and grimey detail included - rough drawings - any paper stretching disasters - paint explosions - embarrasing cock ups etc. Be my guest to join me on my journey in multi colour gouache.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Going Pro: Let's Discuss Copyright

Welcome to Going Pro at Art Evolved. Today, we begin to dip our toes into the copyright ocean.

First of all, I am not a lawyer. I do not belong to copyright advocacy groups. I may be wrong about some things I say. I would appreciate any corrections to be backed up with facts and linked references.

I am paying some attention to the issues though, and I thought this would be a useful place to share my knowledge while many of us enter into the dizzying realm of professional illustration together. So whether you are member of Art Evolved who knows the secret handshake, a regular contributor, or an appreciative lurker, this series is for you. (If you’d like to read this series of posts, click on the copyright label below and you‘ll find them all as they are posted.) And this is meant to be an overview, and introduction and most of all to get your mind considering some possible issues about copyright after you have created your art.

Copyright is the boogeyman of art, the dark spectre that looms and tells us to hide our art away. “Your art online could be stolen! You could be being ripped off and you’d never know!“, our adoring public warns. But we brave, foolhardy paleo-artists buck trends anyway. Let’s discuss copyright. There is a lot of ground to cover.

Copyright definitions - what’re we talking about?

Copyright: Authorship of a creative work that provides the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish and sell that work. Any artist creating artwork automatically owns the copyright to that work unless provisions have been made prior to the start of the project to transfer authorship to the buyer (see work-for-hire).
Source: Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines, 12th Edition, p319.

To keep things simple, let’s start with this one definition.

In both my day job and online freelance work, one of the many misconceptions I encounter with copyright is that it needs to be registered to be there. It doesn’t. As the American Graphic Artists Guild definition points out, copyright is automatically deferred to the creator when the work is created.

Think about that. You own those puppies. You are a creator who can reproduce, publish and sell them. Doing all three of those activities leads to a tangle of issues to decide on and grapple with, but being a copyright owner doesn’t. You made it, it’s yours.

The second part of the definition deals with project ownership. A classic case involves Tim Burton’s cult classic The Nightmare Before Christmas. Tim Burton had created many of the character concepts and designs while working as a contract animator for Walt Disney Pictures. Years later, when he returned to the idea of making this project happen, Disney had ownership over Burton’s designs, as he was under their contract when he created them You sit at the Disney desk, signed Disney contract saying you are creating for them, and you don’t get to walk out with the art afterward. Disney produced the film with Burton under their Touchstone production company.

There is a similar case being worked out with Bratz possibly being owned by rival Barbie’s company Mattel.

Another definition:

Copyright is a form of intellectual property that gives the author of an original work exclusive right for a certain time period in relation to that work, including its publication, distribution and adaptation, after which time the work is said to enter the public domain. Copyright applies to any expressible form of an idea or information that is substantive and discrete and fixed in a medium. Some jurisdictions also recognize "moral rights" of the creator of a work, such as the right to be credited for the work. Copyright is described under the umbrella term intellectual property along with patents and trademarks…
…Copyright has been internationally standardized, lasting between fifty to a hundred years from the author's death, or a shorter period for anonymous or corporate authorship. Some jurisdictions have required formalities to establish copyright, but most recognize copyright in any completed work, without formal registration. Generally, copyright is enforced as a civil matter, though some jurisdictions do apply criminal sanctions.

Wikipedia, Oct 11 2009.

Here we have a lengthier definition. First, let’s not get copyright confused with patents and trademarks, but simply recognize that all three are types of intellectual property. To grossly oversimplify, think of patents as having to do with inventions being disclosed to the public, usually for profit, and trademarks as generally being symbols and slogans. Copyright is the artsies’ concern.

You’ll note that Wikipedia includes mention about the reality that works under copyright do not remain so forever and ever. Copyright runs out, often 50 to 100 years of the creator’s death. In some cases it can be passed down. And in the case of something like say, the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michaelangelo, you must remember that Fuji Film paid for the cleaning, and may have an agreement with the Chapel’s owner’s that no one else may reproduce photos from their efforts for a specified time. That’s not to say you couldn’t copy a portion of the ceiling for say, satirical use in a painting, since Michaelangelo has been dead for more than 100 years. (I haven't thoroughly checked out the Ceiling issue specifically mind you - it's an off-the-cuff example.)

Berne Convention

There are international rules for copyright and protecting the rights of artists. Much of this has been built up from the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, accepted in 1885. The link here is easy to follow, and is cross-referenced with links. There was an update adopted internationally in 1996 for dealing with the internet, called the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty.

Ground rules for discussion
Keep this stuff in mind and it’ll make everyone’s discussions a little clearer.

-While a lot of discussion happens in the media about music, that’s not what this series is about. It may be useful to draw parallels to the legalities and practices of the music biz and how consumers treat it, but I think we’re interested in visual art and illustration here.

-Copyright is not whatever knee-jerk opinion you have of it is. It is a complicated legal structure surrounding who owns what idea in which material form. So please let’s not clutter up the comments with what people think it ought to be without backing up their statements with real world issues.

-Copyright is not the same country by country. A lot of what I will talk about is Canadian, so keep that in mind. Mention what country you are speaking about. Don’t assume we’re all American.

-The nature of copyright law is changing rapidly in many countries. Here in Canada, Bill C-61 was dropped in 2008. Orphan Works legislation in the U.S.A. possibly offers new opportunities for corporations and tough times for the individual. We'll deal a bit with these issues soon.

-It is possible to navigate the benefits of showing off your art and dealing with the trade-offs that it may be ripped off some time in the future. It happens to top artists as well as amateurs but you don’t make it to the top by hiding your art in the attic.

This is an introductory post. I’ll start off with a small exercise for people to comment on, shall I?

I live and create the art in Canada. My artwork is uploaded onto Google’s Blogger service, on servers in the U.S. Someone in let’s say, the U.K. accesses the art, and downloads it to their computer. Where was the copyright breach, if there has been one? In which country is the copyright laying? (Hint: not all the info you need is in this example. What important information am I leaving out of this example that can be found in my blog's sidebar?)

Recommended sources
Graphic Artists Guild
Illustrator's Partnership of America
Berne Convention text
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
Creative Commons

Friday, October 9, 2009

Reconstruction Tips

ART Evolved is proud to launch a new series of articles aimed at helping you restore prehistoric creatures and times more accurately, entitled Reconstruction Tips.

There are a lot of challenges and barriers that can intimidate a palaeo-artist before they even start on a piece. What did particular animals look like? What is our current understanding about it, and how could this be reflect in art? What behaviours would be believable and which wouldn't? What was the palaeo-environment? How do I take all this and put it together in a piece?

Figuring this all out can be half the battle in creating great piece, and can make the difference between this and a mediocre one.

Expect many entries from our various members, but a series that is definitely coming your way starting next week will be...

A multi parter I'm calling "Flukes go on Whales, NOT in your Art!", which chronicles my real life efforts to restore a prehistoric whale for palaeontologist Dr. Ewan Fordyce.

This series will cover topics of interest especially to those wishing to work for or with legitimate scientists, and will show the difference in expectations of hobbyist palaeo-art and legitimate palaeo-art. Let me assure you I have learned a lot from the experience, and I'm will to share these with you as I take you through my many embarrassing mistakes, and my few but uplifting triumphs!

So be sure to watch out for many Restoration Tips here on ART Evolved soon. We hope everyone (including ourselves) will gain something from this series.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Live Blogging Event

Last gallery an inspirational event took place. ART Evolved administrator Peter Bond's live blogged the creation of his Anomalocaris piece. We thought it was such a great idea, and produced such great results we would try to organize another round of it. Only this time with more then one artist taking part!

We are wanting to organize a big Sauropod live blogging event for the weekend of October 17-18th.

If you are an artist, we challenge you to set aside one (or even both) of these days and do nothing but palaeo-art with only some short breaks to quickly do a blog post on your progress throughout the day(s).

If you are a reader of this site, we invite you to join these brave and dedicated artists on their artistic journey as it happens!

The benefit for artists are not only will participating give you a good push to getting you piece done and ready for the Sauropod gallery's launch, but it can give you key feedback and suggestions from your audience as you create! That doesn't happen everyday now does it?

If you are interested, whether you are a member of this blog or not, leave us either a comment on this post or send us an email ( telling us your blog's link and which day and time you'll be starting (with a time zone too if you could please), and we'll put it up on central post here before the weekend so everyone knows where the live blogging is occurring.

Everyone else watch for that advertising post, and on the 17th and 18th please pop by those artists' blogs and offer them some suggestions and encouragement!

3D diplodocus techniques; uv mapping

A common issue when texturing 3D models is stretching and mismatched resolution of uv maps. As I just encountered this on my diplodocus and some interest has been expressed in 3D techniques, I thought I'd share here. looking at the uvs alone, both uv layouts might look fine, but applying a checkerboard reveals that the first is badly distributed (the surface distribution is not consistent with its 3D counterpart).
In this case, I solved the problem by stretching the layout about and by creating a new problem - a seam. Seams are bad, and I try to avoid them, but this guy's neck is just too long. I could have also tried to lay out the geometry long - then stretched the result into a square, but the legs were too blocky for an elegant layout in that direction.

As I'm always out to use every possible pixel, I want to pack my uvs fairly tightly... you don't necessarily have to be as anal as I am. This is already packed into the square uv coordinates required by my 3D software, I work with a rectangle format until I'm happy, then squish it into a square. I use proportions of the original rectangle for my image however... as it also gets projected onto the 1:1 uv coordinates during render, you have respective resolution.
Let me know if this type of making-of post is welcome or not... I feel that I might be crashing a party.

another w.i.p. view, here the untextured, unsculpted model:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Going Pro...

Welcome to Going Pro at Art Evolved.

Here at Art Evolved, we showcase the professional, and the hobbyist, the serious amateur and the enthusiastic student.
Right now some contributors may be wondering how to break into the next tier on the path toward becoming a professional. I am hoping to share what I have learned so far with the crew.

Alright; time to establish my street cred. I’ve been making art off and on for commissions for about 15 years , and began to really pursue freelance work about 2.5 years ago when I launched my blog The Flying Trilobite. That has led to more people inquiring about commissions, some published illustrations, and it’s incredibly rewarding. I’m currently finishing a Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours I left 99% unfinished a number of years ago for personal reasons. My illustrations have been published in magazines and books, and commissioned for blogs. You can see more about my work at my bio.

Am I a professional? Well, depending on how you define it, yes and no. I have been published, dealt with contracts and deadlines, and a certain amount of commissions are in demand, so in that sense yes. On the other hand, I do not yet make my primary income from art. It feels like it’s on the way.

So I’d like to share. Please feel free to share with me in the comments of these posts. I will try to maintain this inaugural Going Pro post as an index on future posts in the series.

What can you expect? Well,

-Let's learn about copyright

-Contract considerations
-Is there a time and place to waive fees?

-Possibly we’ll discuss different artists’ organizations, such as the GNSI.

-American Orphan Works legislation

-and other suggestions from members and readers of Art Evolved.

Next Going Pro: we’ll dip our toes in the copyright ocean.

Member Bio: Nima Sassani

Hey dinosaur fans!

I am Nima, otherwise known as the Paleo King! (If you’re curious about this none-too-conceited title, by all means ask!)

I’m from Baltimore, Maryland, though these days I’m usually in California. As a kid I quickly became obsessed with dinosaurs. I always liked to go to the Smithonian in Washington D.C., and look at all the dinosaurs there (and point out all the mistakes!). I read Bakker’s “The Dinosaur Heresies” when I was seven, and was generally regarded as a space alien by my classmates for memorizing so many dinosaur facts. My favorite dinosaur quickly became Brachiosaurus, which made me even MORE of a space alien (you know, since all kids pretty much prefer T.rex – and impulsively assume it was the biggest, strongest, the coolest, etc. - to the exclusion of everything else!) Ahh well... they're mostly stuck working at McDonald's now! (*cue that vicious humor!*)

Tarbosaurus head in full color (I did this back in middle school, but I couldn’t resist digitally enhancing the eye after I scanned it)

I drew all kinds of dinosaurs as soon as I could read books about them, though I only started to consider myself good at it after I had met Gregory Paul and learned a few things from him about anatomy and technique. YES, I know it sounds crazy, but I met him when I was 10 years old. I picked up his book “Predatory Dinosaurs of the World” and after being totally blown away by the insanely cool pencil drawings, I actually wrote to Gregory Paul, found out he was a fellow Baltimorean, and went with my dad to visit him.

We talked for an hour or two (or maybe three!) and he busted a lot of the popular myths about dinosaurs that were floating in my head at the time (like all the errors in Jurassic Park that I didn’t notice). I was stunned, but found his rigorous analysis of dinosaur fact to be far more interesting than fiction – in Paul’s apartment, the dinosaurs were no longer extravagant movie monsters, but came to life as REAL LIVE believable creatures, with all their simplicity only enhancing their elegance, in long-gone (and not always tropical) habitats that truly existed.

He even gave me HUGE copies of his skeletal restorations of many dinosaur species – which were (and still are) a very useful technical reference for drawing lifelike dinosaurs with all the correct proportions. At the time I wanted more than anything to be a paleontologist (let’s face it, we all did at SOME point), though I’m glad Gregory Paul gave me the real skinny on the field, all the heavy post-doctorate education it can require, and how it’s not all fun and games.

Brachiosaurus and Breviparopus (done in middle school)

It was a humbling experience, but one that only increased my respect for the often overworked, underpaid professionals who study dinosaurs for a living. Some of these people are like Mozart – brilliant in their specialty, but under-appreciated in their lifetimes and struggling to find sources of income despite their talent.

Gregory Paul himself admitted to having sold some of his paintings for income (and sadly out of all his paintings these were my favorites). Of course, the notion of dinosaur art as a profitable artistic pursuit had not yet struck me at age 10. But I never wanted to stop drawing them.

Tarbosaurus (Work in Progress)

Armed with Paul’s skeletals and some articles he had given me, I jumped into revamping my whole notion of realistic dinosaur art. Then in middle school I got into therapsids and found them even more interesting than dinosaurs, with all those crazy head shapes and strange tooth arrangements. I also took a few art classes in school, but most of these taught the typical boring fare – lots of still-lifes, portraits of rather ugly girls, and landscapes in watercolor – which I still consider the most annoying medium ever invented by mankind.

So I largely had to teach myself to really restore dinosaurs and other extinct life forms (seriously, I wish there was some sort of class on dinosaur art. There should be one. Hmmm… perhaps I could teach one in a few years…) Those were fun times. I was inspired by a lot of Gregory Paul’s work (though I’m not too crazy about the revisions of sauropod and hadrosaur necks he’s proposed in recent years), and also John Sibbick and Mark Hallett to some degree (though I think they went overboard with their levels of dinosaur bulk and wrinkliness).
Another influence was David Peters (back in the days before his crazy pterosaur theories, he actually did some VERY admirable illustrations of dinosaur books in which nearly every well-known genus was shown in lifelike color and detail (not to mention his vibrant work in Don Lessem’s books on sauropods and raptors). His book “From the Beginning” was also a surprisingly detailed introduction to extinct fish, reptile, and therapsid art.)
I also found inspiration in a few paintings whose authors I have never been able to identify- mainly paintings of T.rex, including an amazing large one that shows a blue T.rex with a whitish jaw adductor muscle and white underside and a “wavy” form to its orbital horns. If anyone has seen this painting, drop me a line. I’d love to see it again.

I’d say about 90% of the paleo-art I’ve ever done is in pencil, but I also have a good bit of experience with acrylics and oils, and I might do some more of those in the near future. I took a hiatus from dinosaurs in high school (which was a near-lethal flood of assignments due to being in the IB program) and some of college, but now I’m back in action and everything I’m doing now is going to be way more hi-fi than the stuff before. Right now I’m in university studying economics, which is another passion of mine (yeah, I’m not a geology OR an art major – it just keeps getting more paradoxical!), but dinosaur art will always play a BIG part in my life.
Styracosaurus (recent work)

When restoring dinosaurs and other extinct creatures, I use a healthy mix of art and science, caution and rebellion. My gorgonopsians and cynodonts are fuzzy without exception – but the dicynodonts are simply naked-skinned. Raptors and Ornithomimids should have feathers, but not honking huge flight feathers over every square inch of their secondarily flightless bodies (that means no freaky tail fans on Deinonychus, dino fans!)
With Oviraptorids, I’ll let that rule slide just a bit. I’ll put spines on a Diplodocus neck, but not a Brachiosaur neck (for lack of direct evidence) and DEFINITELY not a titanosaur (unless for some reason I feel VERY tempted that it would look artistically good). Sauropod skin was not super-wrinkly like elephants, but rather tightly wrapped (the Pelorosaurus skin impressions are a good place to start).
Ceratopsians are like rhinos – just better looking! No sprawling forelimbs, my friend. Also, I’m not a big fan of drawing dinosaurs without any skin patterns. Even in black-and-white pencil, color patterns are important. I doubt there were any totally non-patterned dinosaurs out there (maybe with the exception of Ankylosaurs), so I have a lot of fun thinking of unique lifelike patterns for each species.
Argentinosaurus muscular diagram (from around the same time, in 2000)
And if I like a dinosaur (especially a HUGE one), I WILL restore it. Even if it’s known from incomplete remains. If better remains are found, I’ll gladly revise it. I know this totally breaks all the conventional rules, but if the fossils are good enough to at least tell what it was, it’s restorable in my opinion (things like Argyrosaurus and Breviparopus pop into my mind pretty consistently).

I recently started my own website and the Paleo King blog – which includes a firsthand look at a lot of the madness behind my methods (check out my post on Styracosaurus, a LOT of research went into that drawing). Stay tuned for more, as I assure you it will be coming. I’m also aiming to sell some of my work. Want to know more?
Check out the blog at or just search “paleo king” in google or yahoo. Feel free to leave your questions and comments.
My website is Have fun, and don't become extinct :)