Yay! After every spare moment of my time over the course of a full week, I can now whip out a 30 minute 3D color Kentrosaurus. Laugh or cry? Good thing I didn’t have THAT much spare time.
A 3D revisit of the plateo-bovine debate. I did some sloppy booleans of volumes under Heinrich’s supervision. Blue is the volume of the Plateosaur only, green the cow. Shared space is deleted. Heinrich can calculate the volume with his software, I’ll let him present that. We’re both fairly certain that this cow is really, really fat.
Speed yes, paint no. Even though its a photo, this took quite some time to get focus and tonal ranges into gear. A mild reminder that I have more to work on than drawing this year, and that cycads are freaky cool plants. After a dormant period so long we were beginning to suspect we’d bought some elaborate plastic decor, ours suddenly decided to shoot up a new crown. Those insides are succulent tender bits, outside are like metal slabs. Makes me wonder if Steg had neck armor as dinner attire more than as defense.
Fantastic reconstruction being previewed… just hit the image to zap ov- hey, where’d y’all go!?
Andrea Leanza with scientific supervision by Simone Maganuco and further work by Lukas Panzarin and Davide Bonadonna, among others. With a team like that, it’s no surprise that the result is looking so good!
Going back to school so to speak, working off of photos of a green iguana. Those temporal fenestra freak me out. How can muscle fill that up? Where exactly does it attach? I’ll have to work up to a musculature drawing… but for now the bones. The first image is more or less a trace, the skeletal is then drawn to fit that pose. There are gaps in my knowledge in filling out what isn’t in those two skull views, complicated by the different growths stages of the skull specimens.
Interesting stuff about the eyes and the nostrils, and of course that hyoid / dewlap. I’ll have to pester my friendly neighborhood scientist again.
After a few days failing to get a daily something out, I post a 3D tree fern. woot.
Jason Brougham discusses his re-reconstruction of a brooding Troodont, updating the visual image of a classic reconstruction with all of the knowledge that has since been accumulated. Click the image to read from the source.
Another gem from our visit to the Sauriermuseum in Aathal.
Set your calendars (those of you in the States who get to see this): Dinosaur Wars will be broadcast on American Experience (PBS) on Monday, January 17th at 9:00pm.
From the producers Mark Davis and Anna Saraceno:
Edward Cope and O.C. Marsh, pioneers of paleontology in the decades after the Civil War, unearthed thousands of fossils, including hundreds of dinosaurs, from the prehistoric bone yards of the American West. They also nearly destroyed each other in the process, consumed by one of the most bitter feuds in the history of science.
I have great admiration for the way Mark Davis’ MDTV Productions has presented science in the past, particularly with The Four-winged Dinosaur, so I very much look forward to how they treat this very interesting conflict of egos / media and science. One of the things I appreciate is the decision to use puppetry to portray microraptor and kin. That may sound odd coming from a 3D artist, yet the way they portrayed the reconstructions maintained a tight focus on the people and the scientific questions. Of course, I’m also sure that this can be done with cg animation, but the efforts wee see are all too often driven by low-budget attempts to mimic Jurassic Park style realism. Hats off to Mark Davis, and – please, someone get this to Europe so that I can see it!
Over at his blog, David Orr writes about a comparison of two reconstructions of Diabloceratops, asking how his perception of their difference could diverge so much from that of Jim Kirkland, who felt that Matt’s take was too close to Brad’s, the version which appeared with the release of the paper. I’m fairly certain this is a non-event, as both versions have their own merits and are obviously not infringing on the other. What I find worthwhile is how we can discuss the issues, and what vocabulary can be used to distinguish visual aspects of such illustrations – all with the goal of designing efficient artist-scientist collaborations. One person’s blue is another persons ultra-marine, so to speak. So, here goes. some terminology that might be of use…
Level-of-detail, or LOD, describes the amount of details per area. This can apply independently to both to volume and to texture. Pixar generally employs mid-level LOD in the volumes of its characters, combined with high-level surfacing details… as illustrated by Roz, below. In contrast, Pocoyo (right) has a low-level of detail both in volume and surfacing.
Squinting your eyes is often enough to assess a design’s surface LOD. Try it out… look at Brad’s and Matt’s Diabloceratops and squint your eyes. Brad’s has lost significantly more detail than Matt’s. All those finely articulated scales and wrinkles disappear. Matt’s hasn’t got that much to begin with, so it only looses a bit.
Another difference are tonal ranges and contrast. I took each image and isolated them from the white background, then called up the histogram in Photoshop. Brad’s is balanced whereas Matt’s is contrast-rich, with more pixels falling into the dark and lighter ranges than in the middle. You don’t need the histograms to see this, but its a solid way to describe the effect.
None of this is sufficient without recognizing that the stroke qualities and overall mood play a major role in influencing the viewer. Both artists have created great-looking images that inspire the imagination as to what those fossils represent.
But, what’s it mean?
All of these visual descriptors will never be as clearly defined as as anatomical descriptor such as dorsal or anterior. Nor will they alleviate different backgrounds and expectations. One person’s industrial-influenced thrash metal will be another person’s indistinguishable heavy metal. Most scientists I know also enjoy cool imagery that shows their focus of interest in a manner that the general public can get psyched about. But not all… some mistrust the attempt and bemoan a depreciation of the original bones. what I find interesting is that there are divergent volumes being presented in these two images.
Brad’s has a very different nose shape, for example. There are soft tissue divergences about the mouth that are interesting.
Discussions with a skilled paleontologist like Heinrich Mallison is a luxury not many illustrators get to enjoy, so you can imagine what it’s like to have a day-long private tour of a museum… in this case, the wonderful Sauriermuseum in Aatal. (those Stegs!) I wish I could have had the whole day on tape, as I’m sure I was able to digest less than half of what we talked about. Here we are at the Tyrranosaurus rex skull. Sorry for the background sound and my left arm camera rig, but the energy makes up for it.