Wednesday, January 28, 2009

T. rex is cool. Period. . See?

The above drawing is a detail of this piece. In various upcoming posts, I'm going to discuss the different decisions that led to the final look of some of my drawings. There is a lot of scientific evidence that an illustration has to take into account to be accurate ("accurate", of course, as of the date of the drawing. There will always be new data that will out-date previous work). Maybe y'all have criticism or advice that can inform my future works.

This first post is about the early development of this drawing. I wanted to accomplish these things while portraying Tyrannosaurus rex: environment, facial structure, and the anatomy of the flesh covering the skull. It all started with this sketch:
The skull of T. rex has lots of intense shapes to it that I wanted to highlight. The boxy cheeks, big teeth, big rugose lumps of bone above the eyes, nasal ridges and bulging jaw and neck muscles are very appealing as subjects for harsh lighting. But I wanted to show off different aspects of the skull, with the mouth closed and open and from different angles of light, so I added another animal:

Now, when I look back at this sketch, I think to myself, "Those thumbnails all look the same, you fool." But at the time I had a specific piece of illustration board set aside for this and I wanted the animals and the scenery to all fit on the 12 x 20" space. So T. rex has wide-set cheeks with eyes facing forwardish. Most images of dinosaurs in general are fairly boring sideviews of the animals. In the end, I chose boring sideviews, too, because the image and the shading, I felt, would be least confusing this way.

The lighting I wanted would have to come from about head-level of the animals and cast distinct shadows, so dusk of dawn was the natural choice. But since there's no sky visible, I didn't have to portray this except with the lighting. Since I wanted a plant-filled background, they must be at the edge of a forest or something for the light to work this way. I can only assume that my viewers pick up on that or that the piece looks natural enough. I chose magnolia, conifers, and cypress as representatives of T. rex era plants and made the undergrowth dense and leafy. These dinosaurs are knee-deep in plant matter, yessir. And that'll be all for now.

Next time I talk about jaw skin anatomy. Stay tuned!

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