I painted a hatching Triceratops for the article on baby dinosaurs in the new issue of Ranger Rick magazine.
I suppose I could have painted the scene in sweet pastel colors and bright morning light, but I imagined it more as an urgent moment of crisis, where life hangs in the balance. So I set the scene at night, as if dazzled by the intrusion of a photographer's flash.
I limited the colors to yellow ochre and a dull slate blue, leaving out greens, reds, and pinks. The whole composition includes a wider shot of the nest, with shell fragments, and mud caked on the eggs. I painted everything in shallow focus to evoke the impression of wildlife photography.
This photo of a hatching turtle provided the stimulus for the pose. I liked the way it reached one foot to the ground, and seemed to be gasping for air. But a photo like this is just a starting point.
The shapes of very young Triceratops skulls are known from fossils.
I needed to know the exact light and shadow design of the whole scenario, so I sculpted a small maquette from Sculpey.
The egg is a thin layer of Sculpey applied over a styrofoam egg. I didn't know what would happen to the styrofoam egg when I put it in the oven.
It was awesome! It sort of shriveled up to nothing, leaving the Sculpey shell. I spray painted the maquette a flat gray and took it outside in sunlight to figure out the best lighting.