Friday, April 27, 2018

Gouache Sketches for a Magazine Cover

The art director of Scientific American asked if I could help him with a rush assignment—a cover painting featuring a dinosaur.


The dinosaur is skinny, about the size of a housecat. At least that's what paleontologist Stephen Brusatte thinks. There's no skeleton to reconstruct. Prorotodactylus is known only from its footprints.  
The point of the story is that dinosaurs lived for millions of years at the margins of ecosystems dominated by amphibians and mammal-like reptiles. It was just a set of lucky circumstances that allowed dinosaurs to take over the planet. 

I gave the editors lots of options to look at. The sketches are in gouache, each one smaller than a business card. The editors discussed the options, and Design Director Michael Mrak requested the layout of Sketch #5 with the color scheme of Sketch #2.  


The final result, painted in oil, uses theatrical lighting to spotlight the little dinosaur and his footprints. I love the headline that the editors came up with.

It's the May 2018 issue, on the newsstand now.

3 comments:

Jim Douglas said...

Jim, does a "rush assignment" like this one force you to forgo making a maquette for reference?

Allenmorrisart said...

Thumbnails are always one of the most joyous stages of my own process. Although I try not to get attached, I always end up loving some more than others. Were there some here that you really wanted to paint more than others?

Janus G said...

Thanks for posting these sketches. Great to see how this cover took form, will try out this approach sometime soon. New to gouache – and enjoying "Gouache in the Wild".