It's painted in gouache, using white and black, warmed with yellow ochre and raw umber. I chose monochrome to evoke the look of an old photo. The gouache gives me more precise control over the recession of values in the dense, backlit atmosphere.
|Detail of Tyrannosaur's head in "Grapple Hold" from Dinotopia: First Flight by James Gurney|
I reserved the darkest values (though still not black) for the dinosaur's tail. The darks on the dinosaur's head are much lighter, closer to 50%.
To give it a photographic look, I tried to paint each section with just three values: a light value, a dark value, and a much brighter edge light. Those values step back together as you go back in space, like paired notes in music.
This painting is part of the new backstory development for the Dover edition of Dinotopia: First Flight coming out next month.
The new edition has more than 40 pages of new supplementary material: character sketches, vehicle designs, cinematic story treatments, and backstory notes--all of which is published for the first time. This material fleshes out the tumultuous ancient origins of Dinotopia, which predates its utopian recent history.
I also just wrote a special article about painting in monochrome for the April/May issue of International Artist magazine. The article is illustrated with six of these steampunk mech pieces.
Preorder the book on Amazon: Dinotopia: First Flight new Dover Edition / April 2014
More about color in my book: Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter