Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Monday, August 17, 2015
Thursday, August 13, 2015
As part of the Mammoth is Mopey crowdfunding campaign, I offered custom illustration commissions as some of the higher perks, and now I've fulfilled them. Two of the backers, Emily Willoughby and Michael Fleischmann, asked for prehistoric subjects, so I figured I'd toss them up here. To check out all four pieces, head to my recent post at the Mammoth is Mopey blog.
First, Emily wanted me to create a new character in the style of Mammoth is Mopey. She wanted a Deinonychus that represented her love of learning. Remembering that I'd once shared a photo of an Eastern Towhee and remarked that it reminded me of one of her beautiful dromaeosaurs, she suggested I try that songbird's coloration.
Michael asked that I stretch out a bit from the Mammoth is Mopey style and only prompted me with the taxon he wanted: the Triassic oddball Longisquama. I loved digging into the paleoecology of the Madygen Formation. Learning that Longisquama lived alongside the enormous titanopteran insect Gigatitan, I had no choice but to include it in some way. Once I sorted that out, having a considerably smaller cupedoid beetle attracting the foreground Longisquama's attention seemed like a good choice.
I'll have another piece of Mesozoic art to share soon, along with some musings about paleoart I've been kicking around in my noggin lately.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Monday, August 3, 2015
Saturday, July 25, 2015
The Big NewsFossil hunter Wendy Sloboda was honored for her years of work with the description of Wendiceratops pinhornensis. While it's always fun to see a new ceratopsian with some new configuration of headgear published, this is especially interesting because it's the earliest known centrosaurine ceratopsid. Read more: Integrative Paleontologists, Laelaps, Royal Ontario Museum.
The publication of a new Cretaceous snake, Tetrapodophis, was met with a mix of delight, surprise, and facepalms. While snakes experimented with a variety of limb configurations during the cretaceous, Tetrapodophis was the first found that reveals four limbs. They're small, and probably more useful for grasping than locomotion, but they're there. Unfortunately, the provenance and legality of the fossil is questionable. I'm going to go ahead and just suggest reading Dr. Shaena Montanari's article for Forbes Science, which explains both the potential significance of the find as well as a good dissection of the ethical and legal concerns.
Around the DinoblogosphereAt Pseudoplocephalus, Victoria Arbour shares pics from her visit to Dinosaurs Unearthed.
Not Mesozoic and I don't care! Gareth Monger's cute Hallucigenia.
Check out Rebecca Groom's life-size Velociraptor plushie!
Speaking of plushies of the prehistoric orientation, check out the Kickstarter campaign by Jungle Plush. The company says they strive "to make our plushies in a way so that any young dino enthusiast can easily identify and learn about their favorite dinosaur, all while having fun at the same time." And it looks like the campaign has funded! There are a few more days to chip in, however.
What can be said about the spinal cords of extinct animals? Liz Martin's got some ideas.
Fernanda Castano has a post specially crafted for all you lovers of paleontology's history: Owen, Dickens, and the Invention of Dinosaurs.
At The Integrative Paleontologists, Andy Farke interviews Mike Keesey about his terrific website, Phylopic.
Dave Hone is publishing a book about tyrannosaurs!
Speaking of the tyrants, Mark Witton cops to a bit of a bias towards them in his art of late...
At Method Quarterly, Laura Bliss writes a nice triptych of interviews, providing an introduction to paleoart for the uninitiated. Read what Doug Henderson, Mark Witton, and Emily Willoughby have to say.
Paleoart PickI love paleoart that tells a story. Certainly, restorations that Marc refers to as "spotter's guide" style (isolated against a white background) have their place, and I often love them. But a well-thought out paleoart story captures the atmosphere of a lost world, has the feeling of a dream made real. Emily Willoughby is a master of this, as shown in her recent take on Zhenyuanlong suni, a new dromaeosaur from China. Read more about the story she is telling over at her DeviantArt page.
Filthy Lucre CornerBlame Mammoth is Mopey for the lag in round-ups. It's pretty well been a full-time job since March. Once the campaign was funded, production and fulfillment ate up most of my and Jennie's time. But this week, with the completion and release of the expanded ebook, things are easing up quite a bit. Now my main task is to complete the custom illustration perks, which are proving to be quite a bit of fun. I've been spending time with a studious dromaeosaur, a notorious Triassic weirdo, some charismatic canids. I'll be sure to share them here when they're done!
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Sunday, July 5, 2015
Thursday, June 25, 2015
The overwhelming majority of fossils from the Craddock belong to Dimetrodon, which was remarkably common in the seasonal floodplains and channels of the period. I'd never drawn Dimetrodon before, and decided to look for a movement analogue in order to get a feel for the animal. I ended up settling on big monitor lizards and Argentinian Tegus as a stand in, and watched a bunch of videos on Youtube of big lizards cavorting around. Dimetrodon is, of course, a stem-mammal and not a squamate, but the body plans seem at least marginally similar.
I soon started doodling. The resulting sketches are my attempts to get to grips with Dimetrodon anatomy and some wild ideas about what they got up to on a day to day basis, including a very speculative hatchling (clockwise, 4th from top.) Other highlights include display pushups (5th from top) and a Dimetrodon taking a dip on a hot day (2nd from top.)
|Copyright 2015 Asher Elbein|
For the painting, I envisioned a big bull Dimetrodon attracted to a drying pond by the splashing of trapped sharks and amphibians. As a tip of the hat to my lizardy inspiration, I gave it the broad, flapping jowels of an Argentine Tegu, a sexually dimorphic trait, and a snout scarred by repeated tussles with other Xenacanthus sharks. This particular fellow has made a habit of killing sharks, and has gotten fairly good at it, but still gets tagged occasionally. In this frozen moment, he's shaking the shark hard enough that he's actually all but left the ground.
|Copyright 2015 Asher Elbein|
|Copyright 2015 Asher Elbein|
Finally, I scanned the finished sketch into Adobe Photoshop and began cleaning it up and painting it. I eventually decided that I might as well go all the way and settled on a showy, Tegu-like color scheme. Dimetrodon was pretty clearly a somewhat flamboyant animal, and as a big predator of aquatic game may not have needed much in the way of camouflage. The final image, after much fussing, fuming, and some momentary, computer-freeze related terror, is below. I'm rather proud of it.
|Copyright 2015 Asher Elbein|
Dimetrodon, as it turns out, is quite fun to draw, and is a much more fascinating beast than is popularly credited. I can't wait to share the finished article in a few months.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
I liked that movie so much I gave it the title "Jur-Ass-Kick World"! The dinosaurs were mostly strong and it was very exciting to see the people die. I liked it that dinosaurs died to, like the brontosauruses that died, those were better dead than alive, and it was exciting to see how dead they were.
I liked the mean pterodactyls that attacked the people. Those pterodactyls were pretty scary. I liked the mean mossasaurus that ate the pterodactyl. I liked that the babysitter died. I don't like to admit when I'm wrong, but I sure was wrong about pterodactyls. I thought they sucked but they didn't suck. They were badass. VERY COOL.
Indomnus was the show stopper of course! I was excited every time that naughty freak showed up on the screen to wreck havoc. I was sad when mossasaurus killed it, but I know that the mean guys will make another Indomnus. Maybe a bunch of them! I liked the raptors best when they were chums with Indomnus, I don't know what kind of crazy juice they were drinking to be buddies with Starlord anyway, I had a hard time suspending my disbeliefs about that. THANKS HOLLYWOOD.
If I have to pick which people were my favorite people were the mean people with guns. I don't know why more people aren't mean, it's fun to watch. But I still get to see all those people get ripped up by dinosaurs and it is entertaining.
Jimmy Fallon tickles my funny bones, so that gyroscope scene was just extra gravy on the whole cake for old King Craptor. I still want him to be ripped to meat pieces by a gross killer dinosaur though.
So over all, I approve, go see the move already! It's the opposite of garbage! Double A+!!