Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Palaeo-Environment Project

I have started the rather ambitious (but overdue) task of trying to recreate a prehistoric environment in my computer.

This effort is still in its infancy, but please pop over to my post and let me know what you think thus far.

I also throw this question out to you, what are the key elements and steps you would to take to recreate an ancient palaeo-environment?

So stay tuned as more updates on this rather large project will be coming your way...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ask a Biologist

Here's my first AAB entry. Wrote about it at my blog. Feedback wanted!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Summer Gallery poll is up!

With the many new and exciting changes occurring here on ART Evolved (if you look closely amongst this week's posts you might notice a few of them :P) we thought it'd be a good time to figure out what gallery will follow our upcoming Hadrosaur gallery.

As this next, yet to be determined, gallery will fall in the summer we thought the topic should be a little more optional so you might decide to spend some of your holiday time making a piece for our show.

You'll notice how you have a choice between several different time periods and/or palaeo-environments. Anything that would fit within the winning topic's general description is a go.

So have fun picking a general topic that gives you the freedom to do a piece while not quite feeling like a chore ;)

ps- or for our Southern Hemisphere friends this will be a nice way to kill those short unfun winter days... At least I hope it will help. I personally will be down that way myself around then!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pink Dinosaur #249 - The Lost Elias

Pink Dino by Felipe Elias

Felipe sent us this beautiful specimen last October, during the Pink Dinosaur Event.  Unfortunately, due to technical gremlins, his beautiful piece was lost!  But now, what was once lost is now found, and we have this last Pink Dinosaur to marvel at!  I love the detail in the screen!

Look for more of Felipe Elias here on ART Evolved.

Click here to see all the Pink Dinosaurs!

"Dinosauri in Carne e Ossa" the great italian Paleoart Event!

The poster of "Dinosauri in Carne e Ossa".

Hello everyone!

This is my first post here on ART Evolved. It was dedicated to "Dinosauri in Carne e Ossa", the first big italian paleoart exposition, and to the people who worked to make real this beautiful event.

The exposition is located into the city of Piacenza (Nothern Italy), at the Urban Center. Dinosauri in Carne e Ossa started 1st day of March and will remain open until the 31st of May 2011.

It was organized by the italian paleontologists Simone Maganuco and Stefania Nosotti, with the collaboration of other paleontologists, all the italian paleoartists and the GeoModel team.

The GeoModel sculptures are simply amazing: they are among the most accurate dinosaur reconstructions of this years and were designed by a large number of experts! For example, the Spinosaurus aegyptiacus sculpture (pic. n.2) was born from the pencils of the paleoartists Davide Bonadonna (2010 Lanzendorf PaleoArt Prize, scientific illustration category) and Marco Auditore; the scientific supervision of Simone Maganuco and Cristiano Dal Sasso (believe me, they know very well Spinosaurid dinosaurs!); the sculptural skills of Andrea Leanza and many others...

In the "outdoor" part of the exposition visitors can find more than fifteen sculptures of prehistoric animals (check the pictures on the bottom of the post). The "indoor" area is dedicated to the 2d paleoart (a lots of elegant panels shows the illustrations of all the italian paleoartists: Davide Bonadonna, Lukas Panzarin, Loana Riboli, Fabio Pastori, Marco Auditore and more...). Here the visitors can find also some shop stands and the preview of ongoing projects, like a three-dimensional prehistoric aquarium.

In short, Dinosauri in Carne e Ossa it's great and exciting. This event open the door to a big year for the european paleoart.

Even, the 14th of April the american paleontologist John "Jack" Horner will come in Italy to visit the exhibition and to talk about the extinction of some dinosaur genus (Torosaurus, Dracorex, Stygimoloch et cetera...)!

Life-size sculpture of Dracorex (juvenile Pachycephalosaurus?).
On the background a big print with six dinosaurs heads. In the image, behind Dracorex, we can see "Torosaurus" and Triceratops, (maybe) two different growth-stage of the same animal.

A close-up of the life-size sculpture of Spinosaurus.
This sculpture is very beautiful, one of the best reconstruction of this animal in the entire world.

Life size sculpture of Pachyrhinosaurus canadensis over the snow!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Scott Hartman's Epic History of Skeletal Drawings!

Skeletal drawings evolution. Image from Scott Hartman's blog

If you haven't visited Scott Hartman's new blog Skeletal Drawing yet, then you are in for a real treat!

He is currently presenting a definitive history of skeletal drawing through the ages in a three part series. If you think the evolution of the standard side-on skeletal drawing starts and finishes with Bob Bakker and Greg Paul, then, as Scott explains, you are sorely mistaken!

Extinct Elephant by Cuvier. Image from Scott Hartman's blog

- Part one of the History of Skeletal Drawings covers the pre-20th century era; starting with Leonardo da Vinci and pausing at Richard Owens.

- Part two of the History of Skeletal Drawings covers the Bone Wars to the 1950's; continuing with O.C. Marsh and culminating with Charles R. Knight.

- Part three of the History of Skeletal Drawings covers the Modern Era; from the 1950's through the Dinosaur Renaissance.

Now go read the other posts he has on Skeletal Drawing, or drool over the wonderful skeletal drawings in!

Tyrannosaurus rex from Osbourn. Image from Scott Hartman's blog

Monday, March 21, 2011

Evan Boucher's Thoracosaurus

My name is Evan Boucher, and I am a CG character/creature artist from Pennsylvania, PA with a major passion for zoology/paleontology. I have been following ART Evolved for quite some time now, as I've been venturing into Paleoart. I learned a great deal about Paleoart, and it's place in our culture through this blog, and wanted to share some recent work. I recently completed my MS in Digital Media at Drexel University; my thesis being a paleoart reconstruction and restoration of an extinct crocodylian, Thoracosaurus neocesariensis.

The project involved digital scanning of fossils, reconstructing the rest of the skeleton based on the literature/modern analog, restoring the musculature based on modern analogue, and then finally restoring the skin. The goal of the project was then to be an animation showcasing a proposed slice of life for the animal, while also showcasing the science that went into it. The project was also mentored by both artists and paleontologists. If you are interested, please feel free to check it out. The final animation and accompanying thesis document can be found here:

And if interested in my other work, the rest of my portfolio is here:

Trilobite Boy featured on io9

(cross-posted from here)

Trilobite Boy and some of my other paintings and drawings were featured on io9 this morning, written up by editor-in-chief Annalee Newitz.  Trilobite Boy appeared right on the front page between Captain America and Captain Jack Sparrow.

The article is a lot of fun, and yes, I'd love to work with James Cameron on the next Avatar.  Or Gore Verbinski, George Lucas or Guillermo del Toro, for that matter. ;-P

Thanks to Marilyn Terrell for sharing Trilobite Boy with Annalee in the first place!

More Trilobite Boy blog posts here, and dA gallery here. I hope to have the first installment of the comic complete before the end of March. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

I own Greg Paul's Albertoceratops!

Famed palaeo-artist Gregory Paul has thrown down his gauntlets on a number of paleo-art topics in a series of mass public emails (here, here, and here). While a few of his issues were reasonable, specifically that people stop plagiarizing his specific works, many of his demands were not. The most ludicrous of these being the following:

I am going to have to regretfully require that other artists either stop using my materials as source material and do entirely original restorations from beginning to end, or make arrangements to provide compensation if they do so when engaging in commercial projects.

He later clarified this to include his skeletal reconstructions:

The basic rule needs to be that that an artist produce their own skeletal restoration based on original research. This would include using photos of the skeleton, or an illustrated technical paper on the particular taxon. This then goes into your files as documentation of originality, and you can publish it.

So boiled down Mr. Paul has stated you can not reference his skeletals AT ALL if you are creating your own palaeo-art, as he owns the skeletal. Well that might sound good on paper Mr. Paul, but you really should have thought this claim through...

For you see, by your rules Gregory Paul I can state quite definitively that you do not own the reference rights to your skeletal of Albertoceratops (fossils of which are pictured above), but in fact I own them! Bare with me as I explain.

Okay so first a few definitions and clarifications up front. First to me referencing would mean looking at something (picture, fossil, whatever) for inspiration on your own work. In the case of a fossil skeletal, I would use it to roughly figure out proportions of limbs, bodies, heads, etc within a specific critter so that my 3D model is built with the right relative size within itself (my precise method posted here on ART Evolved in fact). However beyond this my own work bares no actual similarity to the skeletal in the final product. When properly referencing yours shouldn't bare much similarity either!

Tracing an outline you fill in later or reposing the bones on a skeletal and than presenting them as your own final product is NOT referencing. That is out right plagiarism, about which Mr. Paul is completely correct.

Now to claim no one else can reference your work (which immediately becomes a ridiculous assertion in the first place really, but I'll humour this line of logic so I can get to my punch line) you must own the material on which this work is based. I am NOT arguing Mr. Paul doesn't own the actual composition of his skeletals, but to say I can't reference them at all takes this claim to a new level.

So scattered throughout Mr. Paul's emails, skipping the majority of side tangents where he strokes his own ego about his accuracy, artistic greatness, and research prowess etc. I have managed to derive the following formula to how he creates and, I guess, therefore how he owns his fossil skeletal restorations:
  1. Artist looks at fossil skeleton
  2. Artist measures fossil skeleton,
  3. Artist puts fossil skeleton on paper
  4. Ta-da said Artist now owns fossil skeleton!
So by this formula I can see why Mr. Paul can now claim he owns his skeletal restorations. He is the sole generator of the fossil, and thus he has sole claim to it. However I think he has purposefully skipped some VERY important steps to the fossil acquiring process to achieve this end. My version of the formula goes like this:
  1. Palaeontologist finds skeleton
  2. Palaeontologist digs up skeleton
  3. Palaeontologist prepares skeleton
  4. Artist asks Palaeontologist to look at fossil skeleton
  5. Artist (with permission from Palaeontologist) looks at fossil skeleton
  6. Artist (with permission from Palaeontologist) measures fossil skeleton,
  7. Artist (with permission from Palaeontologist) puts fossil skeleton on paper
  8. Palaeontologist and their institution still retain possession and ownership of the fossil skeleton by way of actually being the ones with the bones!
Oh yeah, there's those scientist people who have a lot to do with getting the fossil bones for Paul to draw. Maybe they fall into this equation a bit more than he is trying to make it seem.

Okay so the fossil's attached scientists (or more appropriately their institution) trump Paul's argument on ownership of his skeletals in this way. The fossil would not be there for Gregory Paul to reference if not for the institution spending the time (and money) to find it, dig it up, and clean it off for him.

So immediately Mr. Paul loses all claims to any of his works being an original reference right here. Mr. Paul does not own the fossils on which his own reference was made. It also means he needed a reference to make his reference. This means it is hypocritical to claim I can not reference him, as he needed a reference too. However the trap he's set himself gets better!

So Mr. Paul stated clearly in the selected quote above "make arrangements to provide compensation if they do" reference one of his skeletal reconstructions. Well we've just established he doesn't own the skeletal, so he should have had to paid the actual owner of the fossil for his own reference.

Perhaps Mr. Paul pays some institutions for this access, but I know as a matter of fact in one key case he did not.

This is Albertoceratops, of which a Gregory Paul skeletal appears in his book the Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs. The only known described remains of Albertoceratops nesmoi (TMP.2001.26.1) are currently held by the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller Alberta. As the museum is operated by the Government of Alberta this would then mean the fossils are the property of the Province of Alberta. Under the Alberta Historic Resource Act 1979 all Alberta fossils are the property of the Alberta people. Hmmmm wait a second, I'm a taxpaying citizen of Alberta! I own 1/3724832 of Albertoceratops!

So as I know I haven't received any compensation from Mr. Paul for the use of MY Albertoceratops (or any number of Albertan Dinosaurs discovered after 1979) that his required system of owning references and paying for their use references is total BS!!!

Seriously my tax dollars went into preparing and presenting that Albertoceratops for EVERYONE to see, enjoy, and learn from. Mr. Paul has absolutely no right to claim monopoly on this or any other publicly funded fossil!

If he were to dig up, prep, and then draw a Dinosaur skeletons than we MIGHT be talking a different ball game (I emphasis I said might... I'd argue referencing is such a nebulous thing the court's would dismiss your case immediately unless you were clearly copying a fictional creature's skeletal. However we're talking real prehistoric critters here baby. You can't copyright reality!)

My concluding thoughts:

Feel free to reference any materials or art you'd like for your restorations. Just be sure to make the final product original! Mr. Paul's point about the final product is quite valid. His points about owning references are a joke, especially with public items like fossils. Sadly for him, he alone hasn't got this punchline just yet!

Oh and you can make those cheques out for Albertoceratops to my PO Box please :P

The new "Bone Wars" - David Tana's take on GSP

The new "Bone Wars": Greg Paul, science, and the art of paleontology.
(cross-posted from David Tana's Superoceras)

*Let me start by saying that I have been sitting on and rewriting this post for nearly a week now. As the conversation has been taking place in e-mails and on the web, my opinions on the subject have been all over the place. But I finally feel that I have something to add the conversation, so here it goes.*

The only time I ever met interacted with Greg Paul was at SVP in Pittsburgh in October 2011. I had picked up a copy of his new book, the somewhat controversial The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, and was thumbing through it, when a voice from behind said, "I hear it's terrible." As I turned around I said, "I don't know, I've always been a fan of his work." I nearly fell over when I realized it was Mr. Paul whom I was speaking with. My girlfriend, who was with me at the time, can attest to this fact. I was speechless for a few seconds, but in the end, I was glad to see that he was capable of having a laugh at himself, and I admired his dry wit as much as I admired his work.

For those of you who don't know Mr. Paul, he is a dinosaur illustrator and researcher who has been influential in establishing the "new look" of dinosaurs over the last several decades. He has published a number of books, scientific papers, magazine and newspaper articles, and illustration guides. He has also hand drawn an extensive collection of skeletal restorations, muscle studies, and life reconstructions that are unparalleled in their accuracy. As is indicated above, I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the work he has done over the years. But my opinion about him started to shift around a week ago, when he sent to an e-mail to the Dinosaur Mailing List regarding the use of his dinosaur restorations

Thursday, March 17, 2011

ART Evolved's Ask a Biologist Initiative!

A little while ago, Dave Hone of the Archosaur Musings came to us asking a favour:  Would the ART Evolved Community be able to help out Ask a Biologist with the creation of some free advertising materials?  Posters and blog icons with images of animals, plants, and fossils - all sporting the Ask a Biologist logo?

Of course I said no, but then Craig smacked me in the head with a Papo Pachyrhinosaur and reminded me what an awesome website and useful resource Ask a Biologist is!  If you haven't been before, drop everything and go.  NOW!  Wouldn't you like to know how accurate is "Primeval" is?  Is it possible for dinosaur DNA to be preserved?  Bear vs Lion - who would win?!?

What Dave and us would love to see is Ask a Biologist gaining popularity with kids and within schools, and becoming a more commonly used resource!  Can you help us with this?

So the challenge goes out to create media that captures what Ask a Biologist is all about.  They are looking for:
  • posters - A4 or 8.5x11 sizes, easy to distribute digitally or print, so teachers can pin up!
  • blog icons - side bar-sized or post-sized, easy to upload and eye-catching!

As long as the logo and the website (below) are included, anything goes!  Portrait or landscape.  Dinosaurs, horses, lions, ants, trees. Add some questions and answers.  Collage, photos, digital, paint, whatever!  Examples of what Dave is sort of looking for can be seen on Ask a Biologist's facebook group. But we, as ART Evolvians, can do better!

One more thing: artists are welcome to add their names / websites to their posters if they want (though obviously not too big so that the main Ask a Biologist message gets through! ;-)  Artists should also recognise that all artwork submitted will be distributed online and in the real world, so you may not want to put their most prized work out there!

All work sent in (to will be posted here on ART Evolved, as well as online with Ask a Biologist so that people can pick and use whichever posters and icons they like!  Join the Ask a Biologist Initiative!


The website for Ask a Biologist is

The font used in the Ask a Biologist logo is Myriad Pro Black and Myriad Pro Bold.

Below are several logos to download and use in your posters:

Thanks so much for supporting Ask a Biologist!  I can't wait to see what you come up with!  Questions can be addressed in the comment section.  Awesome!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

epic GSP

(also at my blog)


We need little reminder that the state of funding for the natural sciences is not exactly rosy. We need little reminder that artists are faced with game-changing technical and social upheavals. But apparently we do need some reminder that there are brightly shining bits of glory here and there, often carried out on the backs of people who simply don't want to accept that we are neglecting science and science education.

We need this reminder in the face of Greg Paul's tirades against open community involvement... and I do not say that lightly. Greg Paul began with a completely sound campaign to respect copyright and to organize as artists for a better working conditions. Well - to be more precise, to respect his copyright and his conditions. And for all I can see, that's where the arguments have been stranded. He made no attempt to clarify his positions, to define where the wiggly line between scientific reference and intellectual property nor to propose how a just pricing system can accommodate for up-and-coming artists or those from countries with lower costs of living.

Greg Paul is the antithesis of how I view science - whereby I refer more to his means of (non) communication than any specific demand. He states ubiquitously and accepts no other opinion. He writes private cease and desist mails that one desist replying to the open forum to which he's posted to. And he attacks people like Heinrich Mallison, Mark Witton and Wilbur Wateley for expressing opinion and requesting clarification.

The crux of the issue is that instead of rallying all the parties together to address the very real issues of neglected science and science outreach, he pits the artist against the scientist and the amateur against the professional. Following his arguments, Mark Witton is "ruining paleoartistry" by having illustrated some papers for friends. I certainly am for having illustrated blogs in non-monetary gratitude that such people are sharing their incredible knowledge with me and others via their unpaid(!) blogs. Which makes Mark and Dave Hone and Heinrich Mallison and Darren Naish all guilty of ruining paleo-literature. And PZ Meyers is soliciting "useless, supine,negative, defeatist, inadequately informed nay saying, accomodationist, pessimistic" artists just like me. (Actually - that suddenly sounds like a cool t-shirt.) It's just all so short-sighted and self-centered that the very real issues are not done justice. I prefer to jive with Heinrich, the artEvolved, Michael Habib and anyone else who is interested.

Mr. Paul's emails: first, second, third and the mail that broke the camel's back; the artEvolved community responses and the no GSP logo above is yours to do with what you wish, rights or no rights. Its a symbol that I'll no longer rely on his work as a source of information and that I will pose my figures in a species-specific extreme gait because that is a pose which conveys essential information about that animal and would not hold up to Mr.Paul's copyright claims.

(Note: the lat mail from Paul hasn't appeared in the archive yet, I'll correct that link as soon as it does.)

Philosofossilising: The Gregory Paul Emails

Famed Palaeo-artist Gregory S. Paul has recently sent out a series of public emails making requests and demands of other Palaeo-artists to cease certain practises with their own art, and we think these emails have raised several valid philosophy questions. Meaning its time for another Philosofossilising here on ART Evolved!

What we now need are people's thoughts on these emails and the issues Mr. Paul raises! If you have an opinion on any part (or all parts) of Mr. Paul's emails we want to read them!

We are accepting essays from anyone and everyone on the topic! If you are not a member of ART Evolved simply type your "essay" up in a word processor and send it our way at

A brief breakdown of Gregory Paul's emails include the issues of:

  • People copying his artwork
  • Owning what he is calling the "Gregory Paul Style" of palaeo-art
  • Claiming ownership of his exact pose of skeletal reconstructions.
  • Calling for people to cease basing their live reconstructions on his skeletal reconstructions.
  • For other artists to stop underbidding him on art contracts.

Here are the links to Mr. Paul's emails for your specific reference. The first, second, and third

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Artist Help Japan

With a massive earthquake hits, we need to do something.  David Maas posted this a few days ago and it seems like a very appropriate response to such a dire situation. 

Go to Artists Help Japan to donate.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Greg Paul threatens legal smackdown!

 At Craig's request I am cross-posting this subject here, as it's a very urgent and important issue that's come up. If you want to look at the comments it's already generated on my blog, click on the link to The Paleo King on the left of the screen.

Ok for those of you dino fans who haven't been keeping track of the Dinosaur Mailing List (and I don't blame you, because it's a pretty bland and downright primitive operation by modern internet standards) there has been some major chatter regarding the use of world-renowned paleoartist Greg Paul's work.

Some people have been stealing his work. And making money off of their plagiarism - not just that, they are undercutting Greg by willing to charge far less to museum curators, exhibit planners, publishing companies, etc. I'm not talking about simply making art that looks like his style or level of detail - I mean they're literally tracing, copying, and simply recoloring EXACT IDENTICAL replicas of his work. And he's suing.

Now ordinarily you might say "big deal. He should go ahead and sue their pants off". And rightfully so - stealing and devaluing work like that is one of the biggest problems in any commercial art industry and it needs to be dealt with. But it's not quite as simple as all that. He's gone far further - now he's basically threatening to sue artists for a far more draconian range of "offenses", even things as minor as how the legs and feet are posed. This goes beyond defense of intellectual property - I think this approach is vigilante and excessive.

 Now I don't want to misrepresent what he's saying, so here are his actual statements on different areas of the problem, with context:


"The basic rule needs to be that that an artist produce their own 
skeletal restoration based on original research. This would include 
using photos of the skeleton, or an illustrated technical paper on the 
particular taxon. This then goes into your files as documentation of 
originality, and you can publish it. 

Do not pose it in my classic left foot pushing off in a high velocity 
 posture. Not because I am inherently outraged -- it would be rather 
nice if not for some practical issues. For one thing I have succeeded 
in getting some big payments for unauthorized use of this pose by major 
projects that should have known better. Aside from the financial issue, 
there are other concerns if you think about it. It is widely assumed that 
any skeleton in this pose is mine, but what if it does not meet my level 
of accuracy? The trust in and value of my work is degraded. There are 
gigillions of poses a skeleton can be placed in. Be original.  

Lots of original skeletal restorations do not look much like mine -- I 
suspect because they are not necessarily as accurate. If someone's 
original skeletal restoration is close to mine that is OK as long as 
they have the documentation of originality.... 

You apparently either have to have extensive documentation for each image (try proving what your sources were in a court of law, where attorneys have to go by their eyes and know nothing of the positions of zygapophyses on a skeletal), or make inaccurate skeletals or run the risk of being branded a "Greg Paul clone" and getting sued. Which is truly a sad proposition because it means that by going after merely similar poses rather than blatant intellectual property fraud, more and more legitimate paleo-artists will feel uneasy about staying in the profession. If nobody but Greg Paul is making accurate skeletals, there's nobody else to use as a technical reference for complex paintings. And then you either have to pay up for the privilege or just get out of the profession altogether. This isn't going to stop those who intentionally copy and underbid Greg Paul from continuing to do so. Thieves who copy Greg wholesale aren't going to be deterred by a draconian blanket risk of a fine for any slight semblance to his work if they think they can get away with far worse (and have already done so). Law-abiding artists however will be intimidated and discouraged by such blunt and imprecise punishment tactics because they don't want their finances and reputation ruined. They actually do care.

"...Perhaps you are thinking that it sounds like a whole lot of work to have to 
go to the trouble to do original skeletal restorations for all these 
dinosaurs, all the more so when a set of excellent skeletal restorations is 
already available. 

Exactly. That is the whole point."
We now need files to make sure we can defend our work in case we get sued? Isn't that a bit far to go? I personally have lots of papers on file and photographs too, so when I draw bones for a restoration it's from the original research and actual photographs, not Greg Paul's products. But not everyone has access to these - and not everyone can tell the difference at a glance between well-researched skeletals by two different artists. Of course I try to document my own research on this blog; I've always tried to avoid relying on anyone's previous skeletals as references (including Greg Paul's) and I was fortunate enough to have friends who hooked me up with huge numbers of rare source papers on dinosaurs that have been enormously helpful in my research, but the potential that anyone can get sued if their work merely looks like something Greg Paul could have done is frightening. In other words, give up, NOW.

Furthermore, his warning not to do a skeletal in the pose he uses (left foot pushing off) comes across as nothing short of megalomania. The precedent of his having sued the people behind "major projects that should have known better" is hardly a "practical issue". It's putting the cart before the horse. So now because he sued one person who used a similar pose (but possibly for a totally original skeletal OR a plagiarism - Greg's a bit vague on that point) then nobody can pose their original skeletals that way? The details of that case are not even known to us!

You can copyright an image, but you can't copyright a pose. Who knows, just as with the whole idea of black and white skeletal drawings, Greg Paul may not even be the first person to use such a pose. It makes no sense to copyright a pose for a skeletal of all things, since they are all in profile and most are not necessarily unique "life" poses. On the other hand, if we're talking about a drawing or painting of a live scene in action (i.e. perspective poses, not bland profiles) then if your poses look like those of a specific Greg Paul painting you are in the wrong and can be sued since for a live scene you have to replicate both the pose and the angle to make it have the same "pose" as a Greg Paul work.

For example you could draw a T. rex in the same pose as the his famous T. rex pair painting (running, with head turned right), but draw it from a completely different angle, and with different patterns, color, texture, etc. There is no grounds to sue for this, because from a different angle there is no spatial resemblance to the Greg Paul painting. There are only so many anatomically accurate poses a T. rex could be in. There aren't "gigillions" of poses for a skeletal either, and the fact that a skeletal is usually in profile limits the number of angles to just one for primary profile skeletals. There are only so many ways you can pose a profile skeletal and still have it be accurate. Theropods need that s-curve in their necks, brachiosaurs need vertical necks, diplodocids roughly horizontal, tyrannosaur arms have to be supinated (facing inwards), and walking/running poses (and even tail poses) are limited by the biomechanics of the animal. Even if you try to make the pose different from a Greg Paul pose, it will probably still bear some similarity if you want the thing to be accurate! Unless you make it a snapshot "action" pose like Jaime Headden and some other artists are known to do, but that just makes it more tedious to illustrate. There aren't gazillions of ways to restore a dinosaur, especially not in terms of posing a skeletal profile. Indeed Greg Paul himself said something remarkably similar in his 1991 paper on dinosaur myths:

Myth: At the end of a heated discussion, often I have heard the retort, "well, there is
more than one way to restore a dinosaur!"
Reality: A dubious statement at best, it is becoming less and less true as we learn more and more about the actual appearance of dinosaurs. After all, each taxa had a particular form and appearance in life, and in many cases we know what this form was (Paul, 1987a). Hadrosaurs have down curved rather than straight anterior dorsal columns, soft dorsal frills are often preserved, and their skin is well documented. The knees of giant theropods, ornithopods, and ceratopsids articulated correctly only when they were flexed like those of birds, they did not have the straight knees of elephants (Paul, 1987a). Of course, there are many other things we do not know, and many areas remain open to dispute. Even so, I have noticed that the above statement is usually voiced when the speaker has run out of specific arguments for their case. So it contains little useful information, and it encourages the anything goes attitude that long plagued the field of paleorestoration.

Either you're an anything goes proponent of dubious ways of looking at dinosaur anatomy, or you're potentially an intellectual property thief.... seems to be what his statements add up to. Which smells like total hypocrisy in my book. The fact is, as long as you do your own research, it shouldn't matter what pose you use, there are only so many accurate or plausible ones. And there is no single Greg Paul pose for any one dinosaur. He's revised all of his skeletals, changed things like arm poses, neck poses, etc. So now are all his current and former neck and arm poses off limits for illustrators? Even if every bone in another artist's skeletal skeletal is the original illustration of that artist? Should every artist then come up with a trademark pose, that no other artist in the future can ever use? There would quickly be no realistic poses left!


"So the choices are these -- 
Do your own researched and produced skeletal restorations in an original 
pose. If some of these turn out it is very similar to mine that's OK as long 
as the documentation exists. 

Do not do your own skeletal restorations, but do not copy my art either 
 (i.e. stay away from the Greg Paul look). There are some current artists who 
do this and they are not violating my copyrights. I of course prefer to think 
such work is not as accurate as mine but what do I know."

That better be a typo. Do do your own skeletals but don't do them, and don't copy mine either? That's a catch-22 if I ever heard one. Greg Paul's not the only person who can do skeletals. But of course if you're not Greg Paul, don't even try to do your own skeletals, because even if you're being original and not cheating, you're still never going to be as accurate so might as well give up now!

Don't get me wrong, I'm actually in Greg's corner for most of this issue, but even though he's probably done more skeletals than anyone, claiming a monopoly over the right to produce skeletals for commercial work is no more ethical than stealing someone else's skeletals and passing them off as your own. So I hope that really is a typo.

However this does not mean that skeletals should all be open-source. Some artists do make them open-source, while others simply cannot afford to. Greg Paul makes a living off of art, so for him this is not a viable option. I'm all for seeing less experienced artists who do not have a good working knowledge of dinosaur anatomy (and hence can't make their own skeletals) paying for the right to use Greg Paul's skeletals as resources for their commercial work. He deserves the money. However, to make something as unavoidably ubiquitous as certain skeletal poses "closed-source" runs the risk of successively making it impossible for any artist to avoid getting sued because there is a limit to how many ways you can accurately pose any one dinosaur in a profile skeletal. As years and decades pass, and more unique poses get "claimed" as trademarks by various new artists, it will become exponentially harder to find your own and still remain accurate. If you make a simple pose a copyright violation, then everyone will be a criminal at some point - perhaps in less than a hundred or even fifty years - unless you want to get really crazy and put your skeletals in all sorts of crazy barely believable dislocated poses. And even after a while of new artists doing that, it would get even harder to be fully "original" in posing. As they age and die, who will their copyrights pass to? Family or some big corporate trust? When the copyrights expire will it be legal to once again use accurate poses? Or will the profession become so choked by litigation that it will die and publishers in the next century will simply have to continue using old licensed illustrations by long-gone artists? Shouldn't the content matter more than the pose? This brave new world of trademarked poses looks like nothing so much as a key to a Pandora's Box of insanity.


Scott Hartman, whose skeletal drawings have a roughly similar pose to Greg Paul's, has offered to change the poses on all of them, though since there are over a hundred, this may take a very long time. He claims that Greg was very gracious and did not threaten any litigation, but that his warnings are more like "best practices". While he's totally right on this, I don't know how reasonable it is to go change everything for reasons that have nothing to do with updated research, especially when this might make the skeletals less accurate.

Here's Scott's response:

Greg Paul's posts have garnered a polarized array of responses.  I
don't really want to add to the cacophony of people addressing
specific legal claims, but regarding the issue of skeletal poses I'd
note that Greg did not seem (to me) to be making a copyright/trademark
claim as much as a statement on "best practices" based on his
practical concerns about branding and such.  Note that it came in a
section of his post that was aimed at artists who potentially want to
do their own reconstructions.

Allowing Greg to establish a branding around the poses he popularized
is a request I'm inclined to grant; after corresponding briefly with
Greg I've decided to embark on the process of reposing my 100+
skeletal reconstructions.

I want to be clear: Greg did not contact me about changing my
skeletals, nor was he anything but gracious in the discussion.  I'm
not doing this out of fear of litigation.  I've been asked innumerable
times by others why I haven't adopted my "own" pose so I'm simply
using this as a final impetus to do so.

Like Mike Taylor, I lament that the situation has reached the point
where commercial concerns outweigh the scientific utility of posing
animals consistently.  I had earnestly hoped that by adopting the same
pose that I would be helping to "standardize" this aspect of skeletal
reconstructions to better facilitate comparison.

So there you have it. I don't agree on the posing issue; suing for a skeletal pose seems pointless and unfair if the actual bones are drawn differently and the result of original research (like that of Scott Hartman). However changing the poses was Scott's personal choice based on many reasons that mostly had nothing to do with Greg Paul, and I can respect that. The tricky thing about the point Scott brings up is whether artists should even have a "signature pose" or not. Theoretically, not all artists would even want any part of this world of everyone having their own copyrighted pose - this could eventually lead to successive closure or exclusivization of poses through copyright attrition. If we all have to avoid using "popular" or previously used poses like the plague, two problems pop up: 1) it's harder to compare skeletals of the same species by two different artists; 2) everyone's going to be in a heightened state of paranoia about avoiding looking too much like another artist's skeletals while simultaneously trying to remain accurate. There are only so many ways you can interpret accurate poses in profile without inadvertently "imitating" somebody else, and as time goes on the number of options will get exponentially smaller and more miserable. Of course directly copying others' work is flat-out wrong and can also unintentionally lead to replicating their mistakes and causing widespread inaccuracies in the field (something else that Greg touches on in his posts to the DML, and was also sadly common for many years with people ripping off the outdated paintings of Knight and Burian). But a simple profile pose isn't going to lead to those same errors, nor does it in any way imply a wholesale ripoff. The question is where do you draw the line? At what point can a mere pose be considered a "brand" or a trademark? Can it?

What's your perspective on this? Feel free to post comments below. Here, here, and here are Greg Paul's original posts on the DML for reference.

P.S. I plan to cover the problem of paleoart fraud in later posts. So don't forget to remind me :)

P.P.S. I'm considering not even touching taxa for which I believe Greg Paul has done a ridiculously unsurpassable and above all iconic skeletal (such as Giraffatitan). So far I'm only planning skeletals of more obscure species, almost all of them titanosaurs. And I've got plenty of documentation in digital form, which I plan to post on my blog as each skeletal or other restoration gets completed. I understand the concern about inventing your own pose - the problem is that I don't have access to the same layer-manipulating programs as Scott Hartman and others, and also I'm not in favor of trying to find a "signature pose" because with skeletals (quadrupedal one anyway) there are some limits to how much diversity of poses there can be. Some of my poses are the opposite of Greg Paul's (right foot pushing off, not left) and they all face the opposite direction. So far these skeletals are not commercial projects anyway, and commercial projects were GP's main concern. For commercial projects I'm open to doing a different pose, much as I dislike it. But for all intents and purposes copyrighting a pose on its own is not practical and probably not valid in a court of law.

P.P.P.S. even if the style of some of my work does end up looking roughly similar to Greg Paul's "look", (though strange as it may seem, I actually don't use any of his skeletals for direct reference) the thought of underbidding him makes me sick. Having personally met him and seen the state of his lifestyle, I thinks he's actually under-charging for his work, though this may just be a result of the devaluation of paleo-art that he's complaining about. The thing is, I met him in 1999, long before any of these complaints of intellectual property theft were raised. And even then, he wasn't exactly prosperous. I have no problem with charging twice as much for my work, particularly because it IS my work, not a rehash of his work (and frankly, some of it is better...)

Friday, March 11, 2011

svpow Stomp!

Here's mine. Didn't want to have some small little thing gettin' stomped, a full-fledged adult. I'd love to see if anyone can guess the species. Even if it's all painted rather quickly, I'd be interested to see if I got a likeness across.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mad Art Lab, a new science/art blog from Skepchick

Just a quick heads up today, to let you know that there's a new blog on the block. It was started by the Skepchick crew, and it's called Mad Art Lab. Exploring the dance between science and art, it adds the additional step of the skeptical worldview, and based on recent posts about skeptical graffiti, propaganda, and abstract expressionism, I think they're off to a good start. Check it out!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Colouration Input

I have been working on more of my new and improved feathered Dinosaurs this week, but I have hit a creative road block. What colour should my Saurornithoides be?

I'm going for a nocturnal night prowler look. So something that would be camouflaged in the dark.

Which of the following variations looks better? (Just looking at the "pelt" colour, and ignoring the current black and white display feathers)

1. The darker blue version

2. The lighter blue version

3. The Black version

Or any alternate suggestions?
I'll be dedicating a few speed paints to the Sauropod stomp session. Let me know what you think and if you're also doing something. Here or at my blog.

Glendon Mellow Interview at Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs

Hi, folks! Please head over to Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs to check out an interview with AE member Glendon Mellow. We talked about all sorts of issues around the intersection of science and art, and his experiences at the ScienceOnline conference.

On a related note, I recently listened to an early episode of Neil DeGrasse Tyson's StarTalk Radio about science and art. Interesting conversation with 60's pop art icon Peter Max, but I can't help but think they dropped the ball by not bringing Glendon on!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Making a Dinosaur in Carrara (Spline Technique)

So after having requests from a few people asking how I make my 3D Dinosaurs, I've finally made the time to do a quick series of tutorials. To be honest overall these will probably be of only direct use to Carrara users, but for you general readers this will give you a bit of insight into how I roughly make my 3D graphics (I don't use a traditional format afterall).

I am using, again, Carrara. At moment I'm on the latest version, number 8 (which they have finally fixed the majority of bugs on... after a mere 9 months!), but my tips for today are good for any version of the program (and even its ancestor software Raydream).

Where I am a real rebel is I will be showing you how to make a Dinosaur today with a Spline editor. Most 3D people make organic creatures with Vertex or Metaball methods. So if you're looking for insight into those realms I am not the guy for you.

So what is a spline object?

A spline is an "object" created by drawing several cross sections along a linear path, and filling in the spaces between the cross sections with "mass". While this might sound complicated it is actually rather simple.

Using this simple cylinder above as an illustration, the cylinder is formed by a single circle cross section which the computer stretches along the line to create the remaining mass. If you were to insert additional cross sections and change them from simple circles you can make your arm (as an arm is basically a slightly distorted cylinder).

If this still doesn't make sense, hopefully it'll make more sense as I jump into how I make my Dinosaurs.

So Carrara people, you're going to have to create spline objects to follow my technique. The necessary icon is show above when starting in the overall modelling window of a new project.

TIP: Try to drag the spline tool towards the middle of the modelling grid so you're object isn't huge or way off the modelling plane.

Once you create a spline object you should pop into here, the spline editor. Welcome to my workshop of wonders...

If you want to model in here you'll have to learn and master the use of the extrusion path (those purple lines you hopefully can see on the grids above... sorry the picture was shrunk in the upload).

Taking a closer look at one of the extrusion paths (there are two out of the three possible planes. Here I'm looking at the Y path... you will also in the long run want to get to know the Z plane path as well), the key thing are the extrusion points. Those are the black dots you can see on the purple line.

Whenever you create a new Spline object you will start with a basic extrusion path. This has a cross section point (red arrow) and a extrusion point (blue arrow). You are not restricted too, nor will you typically use, just one of each. You can have as many of either as you want. Though the more points you add the more difficult it will be to manage certain attributes on your object (but too few will make your life difficult with the other attributes... there is always a cost to these things).

What is the difference between a cross section point and an extrusion point?

The main difference is that a cross section point will more define your objects make up and look, while an extrusion point is a means of subtly influencing and tweaking the object. Both are necessary, but cross section points in the end are the most important.

So let's start with cross section points, as 1. their the most important and 2. you can't start really creating an object without cross sections.

Again a new Spline object starts with a single cross section point at the back of the extrusion path.

Tip: Sadly there is no display difference between a cross section point and an extrusion point. They both are displayed as black dots. You'll just have to try and remember which are which. If you loss track (don't worry we all do) swap to the director's camera point of view which will let you easily and quickly see which are which.

Selecting one of the shape primitive options from the top icon bar, draw an initial shape on the cross section.

If you stick with the initial format of a new spline, you're object will be determined from its back end. While in some cases this might be handy for some types of models, in my experience it is not so good for organic parts.

We're going to want to customize your initial setup.

Grabbing the add point tool, shown above, you can click on either extrusion path (side or bottom) to add a point. Remember to press the ALT key if you want a cross section point. Just left clicking with the add point will give you a standard extrusion point, NOT a cross section!
For my technique you'll want to add a cross section roughly in the middle of the extrusion path. Than as close to the original cross sections end of the extrusion path you'll want to add a extrusion point.
That should give you an object like this. Note how I now have 2 cross sections (both circles, but this will not be the case for long) out of 4 points. Those other two points, while not defining my objects overall shape, will be important to close the object with a solid end point.

Next I personally like to get rid of the cross section at the end of the path. The reason being that cross section have a greater effect on the objects shape, and in the ends I like to have a more easy and subtle means of controlling my object.
So select the remove point tool from the top and click on the end cross section to remove it from the path.

This now leaves us with a perfect starting point for ANY body part of a Dinosaur you might want.
We have three points (for now). A single cross section in the middle (marked by the red arrow) and two extrusion paths (blue arrows).
Again so you understand what is happening the cross section (red) is defining the extrusion points (blue), and at moment as I haven't modified any attributes of the extrusion path or added any more cross sections I'm getting a perfect cylinder.
Let's start changing this into something more Dinosaur like.

First we're going to want to change our cross sections. I personal like to start with a single customized cross section (as opposed to a generic circle of square), and work off this on all new cross sections.
Tip: Remember that if you add a new cross section when there is another predefined cross section on the path, that your new cross section will be a copy of that original cross section's shape. You can use this to your advantage with some quick advance planning.

To customize a cross section shape I personally start off with a primitive shape (typically a circle). I will than ungroup the shape to allow me access to its controlling points. To do this select the shape by clicking on it, than either by going into EDIT and choosing Ungroup or simply hitting Control U.

You will suddenly have a number of points around your object and their vector handles. You can move the points and vector handles any way you'd like around the cross section plane. So any possible shape you can imagine is possible... With enough time and play.
The shape points represent connecting points of the perimeter of the shape. The vector handles control the curvature (or lack there of) of the lines that connect the points.

So to easier see how we're changing a cross section we'll want to switch viewpoints. Selecting our view point option pick either Front or Current Selection to get a clear view of a cross section.
TIP: Try to do key cross sections first, as the more you add the harder it is to see them from the front, as Carrara stacks them all in this view. Meaning that it will get more difficult to tell layers apart especially when you're making a very linear object like a Dinosaur's body part.

Okay so here is your cross section up close and personal. Again this is the best when to manipulate a cross section. At least at the start of modelling.

To more easily customize our circle we're going to want to add points. For this select the add point tool again, and add some points to your circle where ever you are going to want to pull, distort, or reshape the cross section's shape.

Pulling the points around the cross section plane, and modifying the curve with the vector points you can start to make Dinosaurian looking cross sections.
You will have to play a little bit with this part to get the hang of it. I could do a tutorial section on it, but in my experience the only way to really understand this is to do it yourself. So enjoy, and if you hit any real snags let me know in the comment section and I'll try to help you out.
TIP: When finished reworking a particular cross section go into Section and select Centre. This will centre your cross section shape on the cross section plane, and make it easier to find and line up other cross sections with. You can also regroup a Cross Section by hitting Control-G to easily drag the shape around the cross section plane (as opposed to have to select EVERY point while an object is ungrouped).
So once we have modified our cross sections the way we want, how do we modify the overall extrusion path?
To do this we need to pick an extrusion envelope which gives us a means of controlling the way cross sections and/or extrusion points connect to one another.
Click on Geometry and select Extrusion Envelope. You have several options. Most of the time you'll want the Free mode, but to initially start off with say a symmetrically body part like the top profile of a head you can pick symmetry in plane.

In any envelope your points will suddenly appear above and below your extrusion path alone both extrusion axis. The points will all be connected by blue lines. This is simply a visual means of seeing how your objects points are connecting to each other.

You can grab any of these points and move them along the extrusion plane. Depending on the type of point and the envelope you have selected different things will happen.

Moving a Cross Sections point here will cause every non Cross Section point connected to it up until the next Cross Section to move with it in proportion to how much you move that one Cross Section. If you are in a symmetrical envelope the other point(s) of that particular section will move accordingly.

Again testing out and playing with this part of splines will clear up any questions you have.

Lastly you can curve and smooth out the connections between points. To do this you'll need to select the vector tool as shown above.

With this you can give any point along the extrusion path vector handles that will allow you to curve the connection lines and thus curve your object.

Applying multiple cross sections along the path, modifying their shapes individually, and finally editing their connections along the extrusion path is exactly how I create and modify my Dinosaur parts.

This just requires multiple rounds of all the steps I just outlined for you in this lesson. If you found this useful or interesting let me know in the comment section below, and I will do more if people want more.

Till then happy 3Ding, and good luck with your own three dimensional prehistoric creatures!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Palaeo-Art Blog

Last month Stu Pond launched his new Paleo Illustrata blog where he examines all things Palaeo-art. He is launching a series on how to make a 3D Dinosaur, which will be interesting to compare to my own upcoming series (we're using different softwares).

Be sure check out his site.

Sauropod Romp Rumble...

We've been called out. Unsatisfied by a bout of Brontomerus football, Mike Taylor has incited the death, injury or at least shame of even more theropods. And - flatteringly - he's thought of us!

So I've decided to call out Friday's speed paint with a full week's advance warning. It takes time to properly lay waste to those crafty carnivores.
As further motivation, feel free to take as much time as you'd like and to collaborate. If anyone has good scenarios that reflect scientific plausibility, please share them!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Terror Bird Gallery

Welcome to ART Evolved's March Gallery: Terror Birds!  
(Click on any image to enlarge!)

If you want to add your piece to the Terror Bird Gallery, send in your art to!

Terror Bird Attack sketchpaint by Glendon Mellow

An Unusually Tender Titanis by Trish Arnold

Dapper Phorusrhacos by Trish Arnold

 Hypothetical Juvenile Phorusrhacos by Taylor Reints

Late Miocene Patagonia by Bill Unzen

During the late Miocene, a pair of Devincenzia pozzi dominate the carcass of the giant sloth Pyramiodontherium scillatoyanei. The scene attracts assorted scavengers including the adjutant stork Leptoptilos patagonicus, the giant teratorn Argentavis magnificens, and the sabre-toothed metatherian Thylacosmilus atrox. All species represented are known from the Messinian (Montehermosan) Age of Argentina approximately 6 million years ago.

Devincenzia pozzi by Bill Unzen

Patagornis marshi by Bill Unzen

Kelenken guillermoi by Bill Unzen

Kelenken guillermoi by David Tana

This phorusrhacid lived in Argentina around 15 million years ago during the Middle Miocene.  With one of (if not) the largest bird skulls known, this animal was an agile, active hunter, but probably wouldn't have turned down a free mean if it stumbled across one. Created in Adobe Photoshop CS5 on a Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet. 

Terror Bird! by Craig Dylke

A Sketch and Colour Version of Paraphysornis brasiliensis by vultur-10

No More Feathered Terror Birds by Albertonykus

Read Albertonykus' rant on feathered terror birds here!

Terror Bird Classroom Sketch #1 by Peter Bond
(sketching without references = nostril in the wrong place!)

Terror Bird Classroom Sketch #2 by Peter Bond

A Really Really Big Bird by Peter Bond
Phorusrhacos longissimus by Mo Hassan
Digital illustration created using photograph and MS Paint.

 Terror Bird by Christopher Hutson

Kelenken by Sarah Snell-Pym

Kelenken is one of the largest of the heavy set meat eating Terror Birds, found in Argentina. The bird dates from 15 million years ago. The drawing is a just a rough out line of what I think the bird looked liked.
Terror Birds by Smnt2000

 (left to right) Titanis walleri, Kelenken guillermoi, Dromornis stirtoni and Gastornis giganteus.

And there we have it, ladies and gentlemen!  The end of this month's Time Capsule: Terror Birds!  

The next gallery opened will be Hadrosaurs on May 1st!  We expect a massive turn-out for this popular dinosaur group, so get out the paints and pixels and send in your Hadrosaur Art to!