Dec 2009

Happy Holidays!

I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.
Charles Dickens

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Best Wishes to all of you who have been kind enough to spend some time here over the past year. Here’s hoping Santa finds your name on the right side of his ledger!

Sketchbook drawing.

National Geographic Dinosaurs

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.
Douglas Adams

I recently completed this illustration for National Geographic’s children’s division. The Illustration is for a story about footprints being left behind to fossilize and become archeological evidence of the dinosaurs who used to roam the countryside. The idea was to show a “slice of life” type of scene, in a way that was both realistic and time period correct, but also colorful and eye catching. That meant I was free to amp up the dinos colors and patterns beyond what might typically be considered natural.

Of course, that’s the great thing about painting dinosaurs; the freedom an artist has to push the color/pattern barrier. No matter how high the mountain of fossilized remains may be, no matter how accurately the internal structure may be reconstructed, no one has any proof as to what the dinos exterior actually looked like. Besides who’s to say, maybe I got lucky and my renderings are as accurate as an Audubon bird painting?

My initial pencil was approved with only minor changes, mainly to accomodate type placement. From there it was straight to Photoshop, where the pencil was imported and placed on its own layer, the style set to multiply. The background was painted first, with a few deviations from the pencil overlay here and there to accomodate the revisions or to improve composition. The dinosaurs were roughed in on separate layer groups, that is, one group for each dino. I wanted to get a feel for the overall color of each individual dino, but to reduce the file size and increase PS performance, I didn’t want to paint all the finished dinos in place. At 18”x23” 300 ppi, you have an awful lot of pixels to deal with. Start piling on the layers and the response time suffers like crazy. So each dino was painted individually, using a duplicated and then cropped version of what became the “master” file. This also allowed me to move back and forth between PS and Painter, where I could take advantage of Painter’s texture rendering qualities. As anyone who has tried it knows, attempting to work with a file this size in Painter, would be a miserably frustrating experience. The finished dinos were then placed into the master version, where they were tweaked a bit where necessary. The piece was completed by painting in some transparent shadows on a layer set to Multiply.