With the maquette described in yesterday's post, I went outside and set it up on a piece of filmmaker's grip equipment called a C-stand. Now I could experiment both with different angles and different light directions and see exactly what was happening with the shadows.
I found some very tiny leaves and put them in the dinosaur's mouth. I wanted to see real leaves to study the transmitted light. I also went to a botanical garden to photograph magnolia leaves, and used those leaf shapes for reference.
Here's the final painting in oil on illustration board. I concentrated detail and dark accents around the eye and the tongue, which in the maquette is curling back to grab the leaves.
The far forest goes way out of focus to subconsciously suggest that this is a wildlife photo. Technically I handled this with white nylon flat brushes after a bristle block-in.
Shallow depth of field is common in wildlife photographs because they are usually shot with telephoto lenses, which have a very narrow focal plane.
I also used an effect called "bokeh," which I haven't really defined yet on the blog. Bokeh (Wikipedia explanation here) is that cool photographic effect where far away bright highlights or sky holes become circles that increase in size with distance.
Even though I'm a traditional painter, I'm using a lot of photographic effects here quite deliberately to create a photographic impression and to blend the images naturally in Ranger Rick. Although I used those effects, I didn't trace the reference photos because there were a million ways I wanted to improve on them.
A lot of what I've learned about light and color and vision has come from my conversations with professional photographers, who think about imagemaking a little differently than artists usually do. Hope all this stuff isn't too dry and technical.
I'll be heading into New York City today for the Spectrum opening and Art Out Loud, so probably won't post tomorrow.