Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Boar Croc

The current issue of Ranger Rick magazine has a small profile portrait of BoarCroc, or Kaprosuchus.

This recently discovered croc lived in Africa and was a contemporary of the dinosaurs. The painting is in oil over a pencil drawing.

This little maquette out of Sculpey helped me understand the form better.

I painted the maquette with acrylic and lit it from the left before photographing it with a digital camera. What I’m looking for in a maquette are the unexpected nuances of light and form, such as the cast shadows from the long teeth.

Here are the initial sketches presented to the editors, drawn with water-soluble colored pencils. The editors chose the closed-mouth variation, which hasn’t been illustrated as often before.

Ranger Rick magazine
Previous RR paleoillustrations on GurneyJourney


Dangerous Don said...

Stunning work. I still can't imagine how you find the time to do these maquettes for so many of your illustrations, along with all of the other things on your plate.

jeff jordan said...

Sculpey question--I'm assuming you have a dedicated oven for sculpey. What do you use?

James Gurney said...

Jeff-sometimes just the little toaster oven, though I should have used the regular oven. The toaster oven got too hot and baked the little guy so hard his teeth turned black.

Anonymous said...

amazing process and result! Love it, specially the sketches!

Unknown said...

That is just awesome! I love this guy, nature is so amazing, particularly the prehistoric stuff.

goat89 said...

Love it Mr Gurney. Mean looking lizard there. :D

armandcabrera said...

Great painting. I have a question though. It seems nature tried a lot of extended tusks for animals that no longer exist. Any of your own thoughts on that or from scientists in the field? Not many animals still have them except boars,and elephants.
But when you see the fossil record even things like deer had them at some point.

Greg Tatum said...

One thing I've been kind of dealing with in my own work lately is the vivacity of studies versus the finished piece. I can spend hours fully rendering an image (especially for a commercial image) but at the end my studies tend to have more life and motion to them.

What are your thoughts on the difference between the two? I can understand how the end product, especially for clients, needs to be that finished polished look, however I often ache for the more expressionistic qualities of my looser work.

I'm only pointing this out because I get a similar impression from the life and elegance of your studies. Your finished work is really technically awesome, but I'm still more drawn to the smaller sketches and the maquette.

Artillory said...

What is the best paper to use to do those water soluble pencil paintings that you do?

Unknown said...

I wonder why the RR-art director chose the BoarCroc in full profile... The other studies showed more depth...

SKIZO said...



James Gurney said...

Greg, I agree with you, and am attracted to that loose sketchy look. In my own work I find it only happens when I'm on a very tight deadline or am working on location. If I try for it as a stylistic thing, it never works as well.

Bryan, you can use almost any kind of paper, including regular card stock, but if you want to be fancy, you can use 100% rag bond or watercolor, which works great.

Ivo, it's a really small illo, a diagram, really, so I agreed with them in picking this one, which shows it clearest.

Armand, My guess is that big tusks like this served a similar function to those of warthogs, and probably had as much to do with males fighting as any practical use, but paleontologists like Paul Sereno (whose team found it) have thought harder about it than I have.

Thanks everyone else for your kind words.

Stephanie said...

I'm happy to see RR employing some actual illustrators. I've picked it up recently only to find it's 95% photography and 5% horrible looking 3-D modeling. I was quite depressed as I loved the mag as a kid and was hoping to illustrate for them someday. This is a good sign to me.

Markus Bühler said...

Great to see the maquette and the final painting James! It is really nice. It is always again and again interesting to see how you work with models.
As I work a lot with sculpey, I learned for example from an accident with the model of an orthocone nautiloid that it can become extremely though when I is baked on higher temperatures. This can be sometimes good if you want to have your models lesser fragile, but you have always to be cautious not to burn you models. In the case of the nautiloid the shell partly melted, and the remaining shell was so though that I had problems to remove it with a saw. Normally I prefer it to bake them at a comparably low temperature, around 100°C and let them cool down very slowly to get lesser cracks. Sometimes if you bake them to warm, they will become too soft in the oven and can sometimes even deformate from the own weight, even at very small pieces like pinhead-sized eyeballs.

Armand, even not that few animals have tusks. Actually a lot of modern deers for example, like musk deer and many muntjaks. Among the carnivores only the walrus has real tusks, but those are of course not comparable to those of sabretoothed cats.
Tusks can have very different purposes, and you shouldn´t look at them in a too general way. There is for example the killing-tusk which evolved independently among several meat-eating animals. Most famous are of course the sabretoothed cats like Smilodon, but there were also large carnivorous mammals like Thylacosmilis which evolved huge sabre-canines. Some south american late-cretaceous terrestial crocodylians from south america evolved large teeth which were also similar to those of sabre-toothed cats, as well as some "mammal-like reptiles". Some of them like Dinogorgon had quite impressive pseudo-canines:
Other animals have tusks mainly for display like in some herbvores, but this can be also coupled with functional purposes, as seen in elephants or also for intraspecific fights (like in fang-toothed deers) or partly as defense against predators (like in pigs which don´t use their tusk only to bite each other but also predators). In some animals tusks grew to extreme proportions. Modern warthogs can have huge tusks, but they are dwarfed both on overall body size and tusk propoirtions by their ancient relatives of the genus Metridiochoerus.
Even comparably much marine mammals evolved tusks. The walrus and the narwhale are the most obvious living species, but male dugongs and some beaked whales can also have large tusks. There were some ancient marine mammals like Odobenocetops, Desmostylians or the giant seacow Rytiodus which had enlarged teeth too.

irinapictures said...

What a great place your blog is. Pleasure to read and to watch and to learn and to laugh.
And thank you for commenting in my blog.

Marianne said...

Beautiful paintings!I just got your book Imaginative Realism, and it is one of the best fantasy art books I ever had! I am an artist myself, and I have been struggling with the light and shadows in my fantasy art paintings. Your book is going to be a great help!

Zubin Erik said...

Looks a lot better than what I did. I love the purple hue it has, not something you see with most reconstructions of this crurotarsan.