Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Nobody Doesn't Like Therizinosaurs!

In which I describe the step-by-step* process by which I made a picture for the Therizinosaur Gallery, which will appear at the ART Evolved website in March.
* - You're going to get the song in your head anyway, you might as well listen to it now. :)

Step One: Where we can have lots of fun.
I can't show you the real Step One, coming up with an idea. I hit upon a concept that has to do with one of the reasons why Therizinosaurs are among my favorite animals: paleoartists had such a hard time trying to work out what these animals *were* -never mind what they looked like- throughout the years.
So I sketched out a drawing of a modern, accurate-as-far-as-we-know Therizinosaur (on the bottom here) looking in confused disgust at some earlier interpretations. Then I scanned it.
1.20.10 - "Therizinosaurs Through the Years" scan
And here's the scan as it appeared when I opened it up in Photoshop.

Step Two: Where there's so much we can do!
Nobody Doesn't Like Therizinosaurs.
I rotated the image and saved it. Now the "Therizinosaur" on the far left is based on an old shame in Gregory S. Paul's otherwise excellent book Predatory Dinosaurs of the World. He thought they were some kind of "predatory prosauropod", or even a mishmash of bones from random animals!
The guy in the middle is a happy character from the video game "Dino Crisis" (shows up at the 6.50 mark) - though I know I've seen this "look" before. Seems to be based on the assumption, "well golly, they got big gigantic claws, they MUST have eaten meat!" Of course.
Before inking the sketch, I got out my copy of Predatory Dinosaurs and looked for a drawing of an actual Therizinosaur skeleton online. Turns out the proportions were a little off - generally, these animals are more awkward than you think they are.
"Therizinosaurs Through the Years" blue sketch
So I sketched out their longer necks in blue. (I love my Wacom tablet.) I'll use this as a guide in the next step.

Step Three: Where it's just you an' me-e-ee!!!
"Therizinosaurs Through the Years" inking
Here's the inking halfway finished. I do each figure on a different layer. That way, I can move them around and make sure they're all standing on the same "floor" when I'm done. I can also shift the two long-necks around so I can trace their original heads, then move them to where they should be according to the blue sketch.
Since I got my Mac, I've fallen in love with some of the stranger brushes in Photoshop CS4. Now I usually ink with a calligraphy pen brush. This keeps the drawing from looking "too neat".

Here's the inking all finished:
"Therizinosaurs Through the Years" over the hump

Step Four: Where I can give you more!
"Therizinosaurs Through the Years" almost there
The "Predatory Prosauropod" is now in glorious extra-color. Note the gray background, which helps me not forget to paint in the white areas. This step usually takes the longest depending on what coloring method I use. (This time, I used a variation on the method detailed by illustrator Tony Cliff in this tutorial.) This is most often the step where I say, "Thank God for layers".

Step Five: Doncha know that the time has arrived!
And here is the final piece!
"Therizinosaurs Through the Years" Final!
Is the "Dino Crisis" guy too gory? Nah.


Peter Bond said...

Wow, Tricia! Thanks for sharing your process! How did it feel? Some steer away from actually showing the creation process in all it's glory/gore! Great job!

Trish said...

It felt OK. Actually, it was no problem showing off the process because seeing other people's step-by-step tutorials helped me learn more about digital art.

Thanks for including me in the gallery!

Zachary Miller said...

Very nice, Trish!

I love the prosauropod angle. Brings back memories of Greg Paul's original interpretation. I don't remember the group ever going through a "horrible predatory allosaurid" phase, though.

I'd be remiss in pointing out that trackway evidence now suggests that larger therizinosaurs were...get this...plantigrade.