I'm running before walking, aren't I? I'm trying pin down my structural drawing, anatomy, perspective, lighting and values through pencil sketching which I'm more confident with.
My next few paintings should copying lots of smaller stuff (like keys, fruit, other household objects, etc) until moving on to bigger stuff, photos of the sky, and copying Van Gogh stuff.
i would pick a loomis book and just work through that. understanding form and anatomy are the two areas i would focus on. work on being able to see things as they are. when you drawing something in a study don't give it up until all the proportions are correct and values accurate.
My Sketchbook http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=141148
Well you can get away with artistic license with eons extinct creatures, but I'm thinking of painting a fairly realistic looking human eye.
I mean, nobody's going to care if you make the dinosaur red or brown or purple, or if you give it four or five toes, but they're going to notice if you didn't put the shadows in the right place to make it look properly 3D. We have no experience with extinct creatures but we sure have a lot of experience with three-dimensional objects.
Actually, they know that some small feathered dinosaurs were red and grey. You'd be surprised what they can learn from fossils.
The awesome thing about dinos is that there are pictures of their skeletons everywhere. And you can tell a lot from a skeleton, including things like how it would have moved - for example, it's likely the vertebrae in a T-Rex neck would not bend at a 90 degree angle, like in the picture above.
Scientists have been working for years on all kinds of things to do with dinosaurs, including things like muscle placement and possible modes of movement. So once you're done with the basic 3D shapes, I would recommend drawing pictures of dino skeletons first and reading up a bit on what the current scientific research says about them - really get a feel for their size and weight, and how they would have walked and hunted.
I have the most wonderful memories of old encyclopaedias full of beautifully rendered artist impressions of extinct creatures. If you can find them, they'd be a great reference. Also - watch Jurassic Park. They got a lot of stuff right with the creature movements.
Ian Mack says  DRAW EVERYDAY  >
Obligatory Andrew Loomis Link
I've heard about the remains of early feathers being found on the skeletons of later dinosaurs. By the way I used an old toy model of a T-Rex for my reference (but at least I tried and put movement to it; it seems much more like a texture/motion study than a properly finished and lifelike illustration).
Anyway thanks for popping by, Vermis, since you are sketching solid looking dinosaurs and other beasties.
I stuck my oar in so I guess I'd better elaborate.
I hold my hands up, Vineris. When it comes to value, composition, and realistic, meaningful rendering, most on conceptart have me beat hands down; you not the least. But when you - as a veteran member of this forum, where there's so much table-thumping and breast-beating about study study study, knowing form and light and colour and human anatomy inside out - when you say things like 'eh, it's an old dinosaur, who cares about how it looks', I do get a certain tightening feeling in my temples. 'Til now I haven't even seen members here as dismissive about fantasy creatures.
Calireayn has already well explained it, but I'll say my bit too (I've got me dander up): dinosaurs and other fossil creatures were real. They aren't made-up. That might be stating the obvious but in cases like this I think it needs to be reiterated.
Palaeontologists don't dig up half an isolated, crumbling old bone, pull on their bottom lip for a second, and conjure up an entire animal and prehistoric ecosystem out of their head. There is a lot of time and effort put into these things; a lot of analysis and peer-review, especially these days. Not every detail is known, no. Colour is one of the major blank spaces (for the most part, as Calireayn mentions); though while I won't go into some details now, that in itself is not normally as much of a free-for-all as you might think. But off the top of your head you suggest that such a fundamental anatomic feature like the number of toes is irrelevant to a representational figure; possibly even that it's an unknowable quantity in scientific understanding...
Read a few month's worth of the Dinosaur Mailing List archives. Pay attention to the announcements of new scientific papers, and if they're open access, read the methods and analysis.
Take a look at Scott Hartman's latest blog post. Try to spot all the tweaks to his acrocanthosaur skeletal, as he worked to bring it in line with the latest findings. Decide if these are more or less established or variable as the number of toes.
Over at the Dinogoss blog, here are some posts on the subject of fossilized feather colour. Look up the papers in the links and reference lists. Figure out if these are based on evidence and reason, or pulled out of a hat.
Take at look at Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs, and the 'vintage dinosaur art' tag. See how much the bloggers and commenters hoot at art that deviates only a little from basic, known anatomy. Read some of the reasons why they care.
Here's Art Evolved, a chipper little bunch of palaeoartists. Even with the varied rendering skills on show, ask them all if they'd stick a fifth toe on every Tyrannosaurus picture. Then ask them why they would care.
Here's my own sulky little grizzle, from years ago. I thought I was much too hyperbolic with that silly 'voice', until I read this thread.
Sorry for the hijack, Big Orange. Normal service is resumed. For the art and science of painting and rendering (including studies of what's otherwise likely an innaccurate toy, sorry), read what the good people here have to say. For the art and science of dinosaur restoration, maybe listen to someone else. Some of those sites in the links would be a good nucleus to build a bookmark list around.
Last edited by Vermis; March 4th, 2012 at 08:04 PM.
What Vermis said. All of it.
We really do know quite a lot about dinosaurs. Again, I really can't recommend Jurassic Park enough. They may have taken plenty of liberties with some of the science, but the movement of the dinosaurs is really really good. It gives a great impression of the weight and scale of them that could be missing from just looking at pictures of skeletons.
It may also be worth looking at the evolutionary progression of various traits in animals similar to the dinosaurs you're drawing. One thing I really want to see is different colored dinosaurs. They're often drawn in dull earth tones, but we already know from life that hide colors are incredibly variable, whether reptile or mammal (dinos were somewhat in between). It would make perfect sense from an evolutionary perspective if, say, a herd dinosaur like a hadrosaur had zebra stripes, but I keep seeing them being drawn in flat greens and yellows.
Ian Mack says  DRAW EVERYDAY  >
Obligatory Andrew Loomis Link
And you're right, accuracy can be very important. It's not always, I like some awfully stylized stuff and I think some of it works, but then you get into issues of design and how much you can distort things while still having them read correctly. And obviously saying that nobody cares IS wrong.
Thanks for the heavy feedback (and making me even more paranoid about thinking about things before posting them ).
I know I'm messing about and taking too many liberties with my T-Rex (but I know enough about dinosaurs to be bugged by his tail flapping around like that).
I've recently seen BBC's Planet Dinosaur (based on a ton of recent archaeological discoveries about dinosaurs) and book version of Walking With Dinosaurs (a late 90s series, so somewhat out of date and long before the recent finds discussed in this thread).
I've got an old ass VHS copy of Jurassic Park for possible reference, but I've also got a newer DVD boxset of Primeval.