The African Dinosaurs Saga continues…

Sarcosachus & OuranosaurusBOr could I call it my continuous searching for staying as close as possible to Nature? Everything started as an imaginative exercise a long time ago for the Holtz/Rey/Random House Encyclopaedia… now I wanted to go a little further. When I was collaborating with the series Walking With Dinosaurs a decade a go I came about with the idea for an “Okapi” Iguanodon skin pattern (that actually made it to the series)… now it was time to have an enhanced “Zebra” Ouranosaurus.  The idea was that in a crowded herd, the pattern would make them look like an indistinguishable mass and the individuals almost disappear. I played with several options before finally inserting several in the soon-to-be released Spinosaurus landscape. Wild speculation perhaps, but I like to draw parallels and keep my dinosaurs as close to living animals as possible… and we know what happens with convergent evolution oddities! Since this was conceived for the new Anusuya Chinsamy‘s project on African prehistoric life, paying homage to an African scene was next… and it was solved with Sarcosuchus as the possible predator! By the way…The indeterminate ornithopods are only ornamental… and there’s more to come in the African saga…OurFB Our2F

Posted in African Prehistory, crocodilians, Dinosaur Movies, Dinosaurs, hadrosaurs, Ornithischians, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dinosnores at the NHM again…!

Bringing Dinosaurs Back To Life goes to the British Museum of Natural History…and late at night!P1040057P1040066 P1040060

Approximately once every two months people gather in their hundreds to have dinner and spend the whole night being entertained (sleeping bags and  all) with natural history events in the sumptuous surroundings of the Natural History Museum in London… It is called “DINOSNORES (for grown-ups)”.

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I have taken part of this extraordinary and peculiar soiree for the third time. I have to admit that the first time was an unnerving experience (as I didn’t know what audience to expect and what would they be expecting from me)… but with every  session that passes I have to admit:  I am enjoying it immensely!

P1040078P1040077 I have only ONE hour to teach people  basics on how to draw three dinosaurs together with a bit of dinoimage history… needless to say this can’t be a truly serious masterclass since we need much more time for that… but everybody seems to have a real interest, asking the right questions and enjoying the lesson very much… and since it is after dinner, everything happens over a glass of wine or two!  Here are some of the drawings produced with their proud authors.P1040081 P1040086 P1040083 P1040087 P1040075 P1040074 P1040071

The results are self-evident. The least I can say is that (based on my first question the other night) a good number of students that came  with still the notion that an iguana was closely related to or is  somewhat resemblant of what a dinosaur looked like,  went out of the session with their prejudices changed… if not shattered forever.  By the reactions   at the end -and the fact that most of the new artists  were enjoying themselves and didn’t want to leave!-  I left satisfied and with the notion that somehow my work  had been not just simple entertainment !

I have to specially thank Christina de Poitiers  (the new boss!) and also Chesca Wilton for their dynamic and effective coordination and to my partner Carmen Naranjo for very effective coaching… And  of course to everybody in the audience and organisation for their support and enthusiasm. Hopefully see some of you next time!

For more information go to http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/after-hours//dino-snores-grown-ups/

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‘Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies’ opens at Yale Peabody Museum

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This is just a little tour of the extraordinary exhibition mounted by Stone And Company  at the Yale Peabody Museum. Yes it is “Hatching The Past” but in a very special venue… DSC_0287 DSC_0261 DSC_0258 The exhibition is going to be in residence until the 30th of August and One fun thing they are doing is hatching emu chicks in the exhibit hall. There is a live webcam broadcasting the hatching that should take place around the 10th of march. DSC_0270 DSC_0283 DSC_0235 DSC_0232 DSC_0227 DSC_0224DSC_0060 DSC_0180DSC_0081

I don’t think my artwork has seen  better  settings… and all thanks to the efforts of (specially)  Florencer, Charlie and Alanna Magovern and Nicvh Regester. Recommended!DSC_0016

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This is not a Dinosaur…

Dynodont portrait B

 

I am currently working in a another, brand new book about African prehistoric life with my friend Anusuya Chinsamy. She is the foremost expert in fossilised integument as well as African prehistory. We have worked in several books together and she has always been keen in open my horizons to animals other than our beloved dinosaurs.  I love doing this kind of close-up portraits… it allows me to concentrate in the “personality” of the creature instead of seeking challenging action shots. I have done this restoration for a dicynodont using some excellent fossil pictures she has provided me with. I have been careful to follow the skull as much as I could… this is the result and it pales dinosaurs in outlandishness!  The book will feature many more illustrations and most of them are going to be either quite new or new versions of familiar material. I expect to follow this thread very soon.

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Walking With Dinosaurs 3D… the end credits!

Nanotyrannus

A ravaged Nanotyrannus reacts with alacrity to the end credits of Walking With Dinosaurs…Yes we know: Walking With Dinosaurs 3D is all the rage these days. I am not going to dwell in the details, but obviously the animation is extremely sophisticated and it had its brilliant moments (including a Three-Stooge Pterosaur sketch or the albertosaur-pachyrhinosaur chase!) . It also had its not-so-good points (including the fact that dinosaurs “talk” and the soundtrack in general is cringe-worthy… but that remains in the realms of my personal taste).  Not long ago I was approached by the production team with a request to add some of the best known illustrations from a book that is rapidly becoming a standard and -I expect- is soon to be fully revamped : “Dinosaurs The Most Complete Up To Date Encyclopaedia” by Dr.Thom Holtz and myself.  I very much appreciated the request and felt good about it, but was surprised and puzzled. After all, my “old” illustrations would be as far from the extremely advanced technology used in the movie as anything could be. However, when I saw the results a few days ago, I understood their approach: THEY  DO WORK within the context of the movie!  I was pleasantly amazed to see these familiar faces rotating in truly spectacular 3D close-ups .

No new stuff here… But given the fact that unfortunately someone somewhere forgot to include me in the film credits’ list, I have decided to share with you a gallery  with all the illustrations provided for the end credits… I recommend you  see them in the big screen and in 3D though!

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The Joy of customising models!

P1030976Yes, you saw it as “blank slate” in the previous blog.  Here’s my own version of Hector Munive‘s fine Centrosaurus model (hoping to do more collaborations with him and Aldebaran Catañeda very soon).  According to the skin preserved together with a Centrosaurus skeleton, it is pretty accurate… but I have seen the incredible Triceratops skin material that is still unpublished and it’s currently obsessing me!  The look  and preservation of the fossil is so vivid, so real and (I would dare to say) “primitive”! … please forget soft ceratopsian skin… they were rough, almost as armoured   as an ankylosaur and the hedgehog-like spiky features would have made them look even weirder (no quite like it but almost like this very old painting from Charles R. Knight of  “Agathaumas sylvestris“).Agathaumas Most incredible is the fact that the  back’s really big, fist-sized mosaic scutes  (alternated and surrounding the spiky  ones) were hexagonal while the scales around the neck  were square in pattern almost at crocodile level! All this new information should be taken in account when doing the next illustration or model!

Héctor also gave me this handsome miniature of Velafrons, the Mexican hadrosaur similar to Corythosaurus that I also customised. P1030986But my latest customising venture took me to do an “update”  of a landmark toy model by Collecta: Deinocheirus. I felt frustrated that (for such rare, winsome toy of an even rarer dinosaur) they >just< missed on the latest information. Since I had the model I felt I needed to do something!… obviously it is >still< not completely right, but something is better than nothing… al hail to the new “Camel” Deinocheirus!P1030960

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… and then México once again!

P1030887Every year, Mexico’s foremost asset to Palaeontology, Dr. René Hernández Rivera, allowed me the honour to speak to his students at his classroom in the UNAM (Mexican Autonomous University), the true temple of popular knowledge in Mexico from which I myself graduated. His students in turn have also become my students in the sense that everybody there is avidly following anything that is happening with regards of the development  and evolution of the Dinosaur Image, specially in recent years. This time I tried to take them in a longer trip… a trip into the depths of paleontological illustration from the 1850′s and beyond… and it  started as a normal class of n hour and a half and  finished five hours later with everybody still asking for more!

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This time things became even more special. Every year these extremely talented students bring some of the artwork they have recently produced for René and myself’s perusal… several years ago I even started to formally collaborate with the nowadays  internationally renowned Héctor Munive (Tzipactewani Splintersaurus Wewetlakwikwilo), who started his career quite a few years back and managed to work with caster supremo Robert Gaston in the US  and whose sculptures are currently doing the rounds in Europe *thanks among others to Octavio Mateus), widely spreading even to Serbia these days!

Héctor and I are currently working in his new pet project: Spinosaurus!P1030934 P1030928

As in every year, Héctor came to the talk to show me his newest stuff (and also as always he comes with a little something for my collection)… this time was this beautiful Centrosaurus that he left unfinished for me to customise… more on that in future blogs!P1030937 DSC01121

But he was not alone this time: Aldebaran Castañeda Salmorán (Aldo), teacher at the Tlaxcala University,  was the revelation this year.

P1030929This man has invented a new kind of dinosaur model with a plastic foam technique and a wire skeleton. Accurate, visually stunning dinosaur recreations worth of the most prized model and paleoart collection! On top of that: they are posable! Yes, you can change posture, move neck, limbs and the lot without any hinges. His colour patterns are also very good… and best of all, at the end of the talk  (thanks also to René’s generosity) I was graciously rewarded with not one but three of Aldo’s creations! The Deinonychus is simply an astounding  miniature work of art and right at every possible level, while the Lambeosaurus and Brachiosaurus are imposing… and BIG! I hope to collaborate with Aldo in the future to create even more marvels and I also hope this note helps him to promote these models beyond the Mexican frontiers towards a worldwide acceptance and distribution. Believe me, you have never seen or FELT any dino model like them: they are actually soft and lightweight!

Here are they proudly displayed on my shelves… you might have to mind the anachronism but I couldn’t resist making the Deinonychus with its hard and sharp claws jump on the back of Lambeosaurus! It’s almost like they are alive!

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The class was a total success and the close of proceedings was a riot as usual! There was time to sign and distribute some of my posters that were avidly searched for by all the students…

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All good things must end, but in Mexico they must always end well and in style. Tacos, beer and the lot followed. Her with Héctor and Aldo…1422658_10202483055222838_1972442101_n

And the late-hour remaining party…           1474008_10202483288908680_1870418101_n

Thank you Angel Ramírez, Apolinar Hidalgo, Ricardo Servín, Valentina Zavaleta and the lot of great students (and fans) for their help and warm welcome. It was an honor to be there once again. And of course thanks once again to my host and dear friend René Hernández, the generous man that has done more to popularise Palaeontology in Mexico than anybody else in recent times.P1030943 His team discovery of a rather massive almost complete hadrosaur in Saltillo was just one of many rewards in his career… look at him with that that beautifully preserved Velafrons tail!dinosaurtailfound01 dinosaur tail.jpg_0_0 CORRECTION_Mexico_Dinosaur_Tail__systems@deccanmail dinosaurtailfound07IMG_0719

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