Some doodles of a few demons devouring each other, just on a whim. Why destroy your enemy when you can incorporate? Also featuring a quick 3d sculpt of the sharky one’s head, for drawing reference.
Some time ago I got my hands on a copy of Dishonored, a first-person stealth game. I fell in love with the characters, the plot, and the world; it’s something of a dark, steampunky city full of crime, corruption, and plague, and you play as the framed bodyguard of the recently assassinated Empress out for either vengeance or justice… your choice.
These are just a few things I made in response to the game. The plain sketches are just silly ideas scrawled out, but the color image of the noblewoman is the result of my own discontentment with the lack of representation of non-white people in the game. We know there are people of color in Dunwall; one of the main characters in the DLC is black! She is also the only black person in the game. In some fairness, the world is modeled largely off of the British Isles, but it would have been really nice to see some visible racial variety, especially since they also mashed in other cultures alongside the English, Scottish, and Irish (notably, Russian and Grecian/Italian).
I’ve always been a fan of Knuckles the Echidna, ever since I first got my hands on a copy of Sonic and Knuckles as a young human. It’s very much an ingrained part of my childhood.
Some folks really dislike Knux’ new design because where he was once somewhat shrimpy and markedly shorter than the other characters, he now towers over them as a bulky mass of muscle. Me, I quite like it. Where Tails was agility and Sonic was speed, Knuckles was always the powerhouse “punch the problem until it’s gone” character, and his body finally matches his skill set.
Preamble aside, here’s some fan art.
Life sure has a way of happening, and in ways that you don’t even realize it until months have rolled by. The daily grind may sometimes be monotonous, but it has a way of filling up your sight until you lose track of everything else.
I’ve kept busy- making art and helping with the family, among other things. Applied to grad schools, rejected from some, waiting on others. Same old, same old.
The only real news I have- I’m going to NCECA, a conference for ceramic artists. This year it’s in Milwaukee, and it’s so close to home, I couldn’t justify not going. I look forward to meeting other artists in the medium and learning from their experience!
Now, here’s a few doodles of centaurs I did a few days back.
Spending so much time on my monotreme dragons made me gradually broaden my horizons even more. As can be inferred, all the “breeds” I developed are based off of mythical creatures including the Bunyip, the Thunderbird, and the Selkie. Why not werewolves? If I can make a were-seal into a dragon, I see no reason I couldn’t do the same with more widely known shapeshifters.
This werewolf would be closely related to the Thunderbirds of North America, though highly specialized for hunting on land in groups. Its wings are entirely gone, though secondary shoulderblades remain.
I’m not sure if this design will ever be a finished painting, but I am rather fond of the idea and the sketches.
Honestly, I think it can be done. The trick is just getting the right people to contribute a small bit.
I’m putting together a mailing list of biologists, ecologists, paleontologists- anybody I can find with a passion for paleontology and sharing it with others, and the expertise and resources to provide insight and material. If enough people help even the slightest bit, or if a few people help a lot, I may be able to get a site online.
Still, it is quite the ordeal. I think I would cover key fossils in the beginning, ones that are important to various evolutionary lines or are popular enough to draw in google searchers. After that I could go back to fill in gaps and expand clades. I imagine animals would be easiest to provide information on, especially vertebrates, but I would ideally like to include organisms from other kingdoms.
It is simply impossible to accomplish alone, though. I will need the help of experts who probably don’t have the time for me. Still, I can ask.
I think I’ll put together a business plan of sorts after I get my mailing list together. It will consist of website thumbnails, a mission statement, a list of organisms I’d like to include at the start and more to hopefully add in later.
If I can achieve the support of the scientific community, I am confident that I can get this project crowdsourced. I don’t intend to profit from it; I would simply need money for the domain and bandwidth, and perhaps funds to get past paywalls or hire web developers, artists, and scientists who simply cannot help without pay. And I understand, I really do. I’m in the same boat, honestly.
But I’d really like to see this happen.
I’m calling it Paleo Earth. For now, anyway.
I’m an avid reader of Tetrapod Zoology, a scientific blog run by paleozoologist Darren Naish about tetrapods, both modern and ancient. (Tetrapods are those vertebrates that evolved four legs. Living tetrapods include amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds.)
Exactly one year ago, Mr. Naish made a long, well reasoned article about a website called reptileevolution.com, and why we should ignore it. I read it when he posted it and agreed with what he had to say, but remained troubled.
For those uninterested in reading it, the article discusses ReptileEvolution (the site) and its creator and curator, the artist David Peters. While Peters in undoubtedly extremely creative, imaginative, and technically skilled, and could surely provide interesting new ideas to explore, he is not a scientist, and both ignores existing evidence and invents his own by running photos of fossils through Photoshop (say that ten times fast).
The reason I’m still troubled by this is the same reason many science professionals and hobbyists are troubled- the website is shiny and clean and it’s the only one out there. The concern is that the public sees his very… creative interpretations of fossils, and because they are presented so impressively, and because Peters uses HTML meta tags to dishonestly boost his website traffic, the average person may take his ideas to heart, even though they are all refuted by fossils that don’t need image editing software and a creative vision to interpret. For example, Peters insists pterosaurs were bipedal, though we have fossil evidence that they walked on all fours.
Naish’s article is very well done. It is straight-forward, easy to read, and explains why ReptileEvolution is a problem. However, the people most likely to be hoodwinked by the site are the people least likely to be reading Naish’s article, let alone some of the other dryer (but still well-written) articles on the matter. These are children who are fascinated by dinosaurs, and the parents and teachers trying to educate them. The site has the potential to mis-educate an entire generation.
And here, a year later, I’m still troubled. I was one of those kids, back in the day, just the latest in the huge boom of dinosaur enthusiasts created by Jurassic Park; there was no real internet yet, but my shelves were stuffed end to end with books about dinosaurs. All I drew from grade school to high school were dinosaurs. I was honestly in love with the Jurassic Park books and movies; I even invented a genetically engineered dromeaosaurid for a story a friend and I were creating based on the series.
Of course, I knew my dinosaur wasn’t realistic. Even then, good dinosaur books were hard to come by, and I found myself scouring more legitimate sources for anything, anything to feed my passion for prehistoric critters. Had ReptileEvolution been around when I was young, I may have never gotten past it. It’s one stop shopping, complete with pretty pictures and a wide array of scarcely illustrated beasts. A little kid doesn’t know to make sure the source material is supported by science. Grade school science teachers aren’t much better. They’re more concerned with keeping their kids in line and focused than actually making sure the very polished site they’re sending their fourth-graders to is legitimate.
If I were ten years younger, I would be hoodwinked.
So what’s the solution? A few people in the comments section over on TetZoo had the right idea. Articles denouncing the site only work if somebody is looking for them, or if they’re already invested enough in the field to realize at a glance that Peters’ work is based off of fantasy, like my Carno-raptor, not scientific evidence. However, if another site were introduced to the world wide web as competition… That just might work.
The idea was this: do everything ReptileEvolution is doing, but do it right. Get actual scientists to write about the organisms, in a vernacular kids and teachers can digest. Get artists to work with the scientists and produce faithful images of the organisms. Cite sources. Include up-to-date phylogenetic trees that show the connections between the organisms. Maybe include some activities to encourage teachers to bring their students to that site instead of ReptileEvolution.
But why now? Why am I returning to this article a year after it was published? Perhaps because I never really left it. Lately, now that I’ve graduated and have more free time than I know what to do with, I’ve been trying to find ways to constructively fill my schedule, and this article floated back to the surface of my thoughts. I’m an artist; I’d like to think I’m capable of producing good, accurate work. Suppose I tried to make such a site happen? Maybe if I asked around the scientific community I could find some folks willing to spare some of their time to send me information and photos that I can work with. With a successful Kickstarter campaign I might be able to get a web designer/developer more skilled than I am to help with the site structure. I know artists, myself included, who might be interested to provide artwork for the site.
The only hitch is getting scientists to work with me. I know they’re busy and underpaid in general, so such a project might just be a distraction they can’t afford, but many scientists are also very interested in dispersing information to the public.
As I ponder it some more, I’ll probably write about it. For now, have a fake dinosaur from 2007.
A trio of Pterodaustro feeding in a tide pool.
The two males (mid and right) will have their breeding colors. The lady on the left will be a bit blander. We can assume sexual selection by females is a huge thing in pterosaurs, judging by the many varied crests we’ve found in the fossils of male pterosaurs and their conspicuous absence in conspecific females. Thus, flashy colors, and a low crest, which is speculated to have possibly existed in Pterodaustro.
From an artist’s standpoint, and setting biology mostly aside, pterosaurs are super fun because they have all the cool bits- strange beaks, teeth, crests, dewlaps, wings, fuzz… they can just sit around filter feeding like these guys, and they’ll still look awesome!
On a related note, I’ve come to realize why I like pterosaurs, but not most depictions of them. Most people seem to enjoy drawing or painting them as naked skeletal terror beasts, out with their gray or green skin and raptor hands and eagle feet and bloodshot bulging yellow eyes to maim and kill everything… when really they were just animals, and probably looked rather mundane, all things considered. The ironic bit is that the mundane depictions of pterosaurs (and other prehistoric beasties) always seem to be more successful and interesting than the vicious cold-blooded monsters other folks are inclined to draw.
I mean, velociraptors probably took very undignified dust baths more often than they photogenically savaged large herbivores. Just saying.