Fantastic dinos and beasties. The paleoart aficionado in me sees a lot of potential.
Fantastic dinos and beasties. The paleoart aficionado in me sees a lot of potential.
DSG entry. Kaya and her crazy dinosaur. You know I was gonna try something for it. And someone needed to help keep up the non-Barney/non-jabberwocky end.
Seriously, though. All the firm commands and painstaking labour in this place, to research human anatomy and get it just right. Then when it comes to other matters it's like "Uh... whut's a dinosore? It's just a big fing wif big teef, right? It dun matter 'cos they're just for kids anyways roflololol..."
It's enough to make you moan on an internet forum. I don't expect or want much, especially for a DSG. Just go type 'Tyrannosaurus' or something into your search engine of choice, first.
P.S. That's it. I'ma gonna getta new scanner. No srsly. A week. Two weeks.
Last edited by Vermis; October 13th, 2009 at 10:09 AM.
Since my scanner's on it's deathbed I thought I'd posts pics of more sketches taken with a camera. Medium: plasticene. Forgot to include something for scale so there's some approximate 'actual size' insets.
First is the Hulk. It looked okay until I stuck the hair on. Second is a young Allosaurus fragilus. It was while I was putting the finishing touches on that, that I thought "What on Earth am I doing wasting my time with plasticene?"
Last edited by Vermis; October 17th, 2009 at 04:12 PM.
Hey, is this thing still on? Has it been since October? Can't have been. Can it?
Here I am wasting my time with polymer clay and epoxy putty instead of plasticene. Roughly 50:50 flesh-coloured sculpey III and a green stuff/apoxie sculpt mix. Fresh sculpey III doesn't like me as much as the old, firm terracotta stuff, behaving more like the fimo soft (too springy and jellylike for my liking) even after leaching. But the curing putty firmed it up nicely, I thought.
It's not apparent but I was trying for a kind of round hobbit/halfling-ish face.
And I still don't have a new scanner. I did go and look at some in a shop, though. It's a start.
I've tormented other web forums with my opinions on comparative anatomy and 'realism' in creature design - particularly dragons - and after a recent bit of disagreement on Conceptart, I might as well make a start here. Just a quick heads-up, it's a fair bit of a rant.
"Dragons aren't real! Magic did it! They can look any way they want! I've never seen a dragon walking down the street!"
These are a few of the typical soundbytes that I've seen wheeled out when the subject of 'dragon anatomy' comes up in art and sculpture; and in my personal experience, whenever I utter even the mildest, breezy pointers. The outraged resistance can be baffling. But they're lame excuses, and often used by people who haven't much of a clue about any kind of anatomy. There are a few points I want to make about this kind of attitude and statement.
Firstly, they completely miss the point. No, I agree, you're not going to see a dragon walking down the street. Your typical flying, fire-breathing dragon is going to be a scientific impossibility, particularly if it's also an immortal hyperintelligent spellcasting wizard.
This isn't about basing your art on 'real' dragons, or making sure it adheres to every footnote in the laws of physics and biomechanics. It's about helping and making your dragons seem plausible and real. Verisimilitude - one of my favourite ten-dollar words. In the case of dragon design it should involve borrowing and adapting appropriate features from real-world creatures.
Secondly, I could argue that since fantasy dragons aren't real, it's a little more important to have some anatomical basis and knowledge. For horses, lions - any real creature - you can go sketch from life, or film, or google some photo references. But if you want a superficially realistic dragon that doesn't look just like, say, a horse with spikes and big teeth, it helps to know something about the structural parts you want to swap around and tweak, to result in a relatively unique creature.
That brings me to the next point, but one I'm unsure of. Do people see the comparison and use of real-world anatomy as some kind of cop-out, or big restriction? If so, it's a little unappreciative of the huge variety of life on this planet. It also assumes that imagination and creativity have no part in it. Not at all. In fact, it seems to me to require more creativity to draw from nature, than to simply plug all the old draconic cliches together.
Lastly, forum posters rail against 'anatomy nazis', and I'll be surprised if I don't pick up some heat for this particular little manifesto, but the results speak for themselves. I've seen too many stinkers and masterpieces alike, ruined or held up by the artist's knowledge or references, to be convinced that this is wrong.
I've attached an image with two dragons, for comparison. The first is admittedly simplified and crude, but shows some of the specific cliches that I see in too much fantasy art. Most are in the form of miniature sculptures, though a number of fantasy illustrators use them too.
From the top:
- Flat, round skull. Arrow-straight jaws like Pacman or a muppet. Horns, spikes and frills jutting out as if they've just been glued on, like a lizard in an old monster movie.
- Neck meets the trunk at an almost perpendicular angle. Animals can rest their necks at surprisingly sharp angles; but they generally have and show some measure of curvature connecting the neck to the head and trunk, in the bones and the flesh. Longer-necked creatures in particular. The contours of long-necked dragons in some fantasy art look like their necks just snapped.
- The belly texture, usually extending to the neck and tail. Looks like the dragon's done a Buffalo Bill on the Michelin Man, though sometimes it'll be huge, overlapping roof tiles. I guess this is supposed to be a connection to snakes, which have a row of wide ventral scales, but most of the time it comes off as the artist doing something because they saw other artists doing it, not wondering why. Even if it is used for the snake reference, ironically it usually implies another lack of understanding. A snake's ventral scales are used in rectilinear and other methods of locomotion. For that they have to be thin and flexible, not like the enormous concrete-style slabs in a lot of dragon art (which still manage to conform perfectly to the dragon's hyperflexible body). Brilliant for a legless, serpentine dragon; but what are they for on others? Armour? Turtles are barely as well armoured. Isn't the cliche supposed to be a hard-back-soft-belly, not vice versa?
I can tolerate some giant belly armour for the sake of imagination and variety, and sometimes they're done well, but they're way overused and you won't catch me using them anytime soon.
- Back scales aren't usually much better. Here the concrete slabs are random patches of crazy paving rather than a row of shingles. Random, but not especially organic. You also get big, too-regular diamond scales, again conforming perfectly to flexible appendages and the bulging muscles on...
- Bizarrely out-of-place humanoid limbs. Not so bad if the dragon's meant to be humanoid, but otherwise...? Usually have token claws and those steroid-pumped muscles, particularly the enormous pumpkinlike deltoids pushed way up to the dragon's spine.
Remind you of anything? They weren't likely intentional, but that Strongbad video's got a few relevant moments hidden in the comedy. Remember kids, the S is for Sucks.
Besides looking weird, it also gives the impression the artist doesn't understand how deltoids etc. attach and function on the human body, let alone non-human creatures. Especially with...
- Tubelike bodies. Necks and tails too. Nearly cylindrical, with hardly a hint of pectoral or pelvic girdles, or even a ribcage. Alright if the dragon's similar to snakes or small-legged lizards, but not with big, powerful limbs, and even snakes have some shape to their bodies. This also applies to...
- Wings that look like someone's taken a broken umbrella and stabbed parts of it into the creature's back. Wings and flight are one of the more unbelievable aspects of typical dragons, but portrayals like that don't help anything. I said that this drawn example was crude and simplified, but that wing isn't a million miles from some I've seen in professional artwork. Stiff, inorganic, and not connected to anything in any meaningful way.
Compare to the second dragon in the image. It uses bits of tyrannosaur, lion, alligator and obviously bat, shook up a little; with a couple of hints of iguana, pterosaur and horse in the mix too.
Now, I'm not saying it's perfect and the best-designed dragon evar and I am the greatest. No sir. I'm still learning myself, and I'm a long, long way from John Howe, David Krentz, Terryl Whitlatch, or any number of other great and successful pros. Or amateurs. But in the instances these superior heads are absent, maybe the pic shows I know a little of what I'm talking about, when I poke holes in cookie-cutter dragons.
Last edited by Vermis; March 17th, 2011 at 01:31 PM.
Good pointers about designing dragons there. I've noticed that humanoid looking limb thing in people's dragon designs and other creatures alike. Many things there I haven't thought about too. I think the good example alone (and this whole sketchbook) covers pretty well the worth of studying creature anatomy.
You obviously know what you like drawing and that's great! In addition to the dinosaurs, I like the halfling sketches a lot too. Keep them all coming!
Thanks! I realise I've got a bug up my butt on the matter (and like I say, I'm not the most qualified), but that's partly to make up for the people who don't. I'll get at least a few snipes and sneers at that little speech, but that's okay.
Last edited by Vermis; May 22nd, 2010 at 03:55 AM.
always fun to see new dinos do you plan to be a scientific illustrator?
and i have seen that argument before, the 'its not real so what would you know' - well...
anyway, anytime i wish dinosaurs were still around, all it takes is a good look at one of the giant flying raptors still around to feel like they still are.
Although you can guess from my rant that the subjects aren't completely unrelated. In my opinion too many dragon, fantasy creature, and even dinosaur gaming minis are crudely sculpted or badly designed; and defended to the hilt by the 'but they're not real' camp. (modified for dinos to 'nobody knows what they looked like') I might not be great or exceptional, but I'm driven to give it a try because I think I can do better. It's all at once a big confidence boost and a sobering thought.
I just need to get off my keister and do something about it.
You get a similar vibe with the big ratites on the first page.anyway, anytime i wish dinosaurs were still around, all it takes is a good look at one of the giant flying raptors still around to feel like they still are.
Last edited by Vermis; May 23rd, 2010 at 10:05 AM.
DSG: Impressive alien beast combines properties of both rhino and lion.
I enjoyed reading your thoughts about dragons. I don't know what people you have been in touch with regarding the points you present, to me, everything you've been talking about is sound and solid. Something everyone who wishes to draw fantasy creatures should keep in mind.
I do wonder though. I get the feeling that this is mostly pointing towards the boards over at DeviantArt? It's only there I've met those kinds of reactions (like the ultimately stupid argument "it's not real, it's magic, therefor it can look in any way possible"). The disagreement on conceptart gets me cruious though..
nevertheless, good read! great dragons! and fantastic Dinosaurs!
I haven't had a good look at DA for what must be years, at this point - and I was only there for the palaeoart. The sad thing is that essay was partly prompted by a sculpture topic right here on CA, although I've practised it often on a few different miniature gaming forums. Gamers think it doesn't matter and can get surprisingly angry (much like DA members it seems, while making the most fuss over the most 'realistic' monsters); and it can be near-impossible to persuade even some professional sculptors to use references for real creatures. They think they know it all after looking at a Games Workshop plastic wolf. But I digress.
I'm pleasantly surprised and I feel fairly vindicated by the replies so far. I'm too used to the opposite response, and now I feel kind of daft for being so defensive. Although I did have a little boost beforehand: I recently found Tom Kidd's book How To Draw And Paint Dragons, and saw it agreed with most of my opinions. Or rather, I agreed with his. Gave me a little courage to go throwing my opinions around again.
(Short review here, if it's unfamiliar)
Last edited by Vermis; May 26th, 2010 at 11:32 PM.
I got me a Pentel brush pen. It's more convenient than dragging out the old W&N series 7 (And ink. And water jar. And paper towels etc...), but proves the old adage that better (or fancier) tools don't correspond to better talent. That hatching is diabolical.
Also, the only half-decent sketch I got at a recent agricultural show.
There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)