Friday, February 8, 2008

Eye Stripe

Once in a while a design feature will show up in animals that are not closely related. A good example is the “eye stripe” coloration pattern, which appears in sparrows, antelopes, and chipmunks.

In all of these creatures, a dark facial stripe runs from the snout to the eye. Directly above the eye stripe is a bright white line called a supercilium, and above that another dark line called a lateral crown stripe. Presumably, eye stripes serve as protective coloration in all of these prey animals, disguising their eyes from predators.

Whenever such features exist in animals as diverse as birds, ungulates and rodents, it’s reasonable to speculate that they may have appeared in dinosaurs as well. This was my rationale for showing eye stripes on the Beipiaosaurus in Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara.

I used the same idea when I painted a dark patch on the flank of a Camptosaurus in the World of Dinosaurs stamps for the US Postal Service. This flank patch also appears in the springbok.

The Camptosaurus was a tasty morsel for ceratosaurs and allosaurs in the Jurassic, just as the springbok is the Chicken McNugget of the Kalahari.

Tomorrow: Mahl Stick


Anonymous said...

Incorporating characteristics from unlike animals, like you did with the eye stripes, is one of my favorite things to do when designing creatures.

Anonymous said...

I always wonder why a lot of people are against using vivid patterns of markings and coloration in dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasties. Nature, in all her beauty, does have a knack for reusing designs in her creations and there's absolutely no realistic reason why dinosaurs wouldn't have colors similar to animals today, especially birds.

To me, incorporating these kinds of things into contemporary renderings of dinosaurs makes them that much more alive. Drab greens and browns are just so boring.

Michael Damboldt said...

Ditto here. Amazing that so many depictions of dinosaurs have been so bland. Even in the early 50s dinosaurs were in muted tones. One of the great things about Dinotopia is the incorporation of coloration in animals that makes the dinosaurs look more like what they possibly looked like. If that makes sense. :-D

tlchang said...

I think (really great) illustrators (such as you) have to know pretty much *everything* about *everything*! I am constantly amazed....

James Gurney said...

You are very kind, Tara. In fact, I know next to nothing about everything, but what I love about illustration is that the act of visualizing things brings us into new awareness all the time.

Skogul, Michael, and Cory--yes, bring on the bird-like coloration and patterning, not just for camouflage, but for sexual display, like in so many male birds--especially in the hadrosaurs and ceratopsians when you've already got bizarre skull formations that could have had no other purpose.

The Warrior said...

A good example is the “eye stripe” coloration pattern, which appears in sparrows, antelopes, and chipmunks.

Or the Wood Frog, Rana sylvatica:

And I definitely agree with the coloration, and especially as to ceratopsians and hadrosaurs. I agree with Robert Bakker on all of this; if the dinosaur has ornamentation, it's for sexual display and rival intimidation first, before it's a "radiator," or whatever. And bright colors, why not?