Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Evolution of Utahraptor

I love how the shiny digital future has opened up so many artists' processes to a wider audience. A primary message I impart to my students - which I pummel them with all the time - is how important it is to invite critique throughout the creative process. I teach graphic design, but it's a practice that can certainly apply to other disciplines. All sorts of artists can share the development of their work as it evolves beyond a peer group at hand. It's not for everyone, of course, but I appreciate being able to look behind the curtain. It enhances my appreciation rather than ruining the mystique of the vaunted final artifact.

So here's a new version of Utahraptor, shared by Paul Heaston at Flickr.

utahraptor dancing

A previous draft received some constructive criticism from Mike Keesey.
Really nice work -- I like how you've done the leg feathers. There should probably be primary feathers attached along the second manual digit, not just the ulna. (Obviously, we don't know for sure for Utahraptor, but that's how it is for other winged maniraptors.)


So cool to see. More from Paul at his blog, and of course my recent interview with him. And this isn't the first time I expressed this sentiment about Paul's work. This Utahraptor was just too cool to not post.

Update 9/13/12:
As Paul notes in the comments to this post, he will almost certainly be revising this further - something a lot of Utahraptor artists will be doing. Followers of the Dinosaur Mailing List have been hearing about stunning new Utahraptor material in prep for a while now, and Scott Hartman has seen it. He writes on the DeviantArt page for the skeletal diagram Paul used for this piece:
Important programming note: Do not restore the current skeletal reconstruction. Utahraptor does NOT look like this. It's stranger and less Deinonychus-like than I realized. Unfortunately I can't share the changes with you just now, but I didn't want anyone else to put time and effort into restoring Utahraptor from an outdated skeletal. Further bulletins as events warrant.
Cannot wait to see how Utahraptor changes with this new research.


  1. Haha, thanks for the post. Really, it was just bugging me, especially with the attention you had given the older sketch, and I'm nothing if not self-conscious that people will figure out I don't know what I'm doing. I still have to look a lot longer and harder at all things feathered.

    And if that weren't bad enough, now Scott Hartman has indicated his skeletal that I used for a reference is out of date: So it'll be back to the drawing board soon enough.

  2. I was going to ask what in the heck the big problem would be, but a visit to that skeletal reveals that he must have access to the material Jim Kirkland has been teasing us about on the Dinosaur Mailing List. Jeez, I cannot wait for that description (redescription, I suppose) to hit.


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