Ceratosaurus Science Ink

Another dinosaur tattoo design!

In March of 2012, I posted a bit about the process behind paleontology author and blogger Brian Switek's 
Allosaurus tattoo design, which he commissioned from me and had inked at the Heart of Gold Tattoo studio.

Brian Switek is the author of Written in Stone and My Beloved Brontosaurus and the former blogger at Laelaps on Wired, and Dinosaur Tracking on the Smithsonian site.

Recently, he's taken his Laelaps blog to National Geographic's new "science salon" blog network, Phenomena. 




You can read more about how I personalized it with hidden Easter Eggs in the design to make it specifically for Brian in the original post.

Brian liked it enough, he needed another carnivore.

Ceratosaurus!


Sketching the horned beastie in my Moleskine. Ceratosaurus was much like Allosaurus but with a wicked horn, and devilish ridges over its eyes. 



My work in progress, inking using ArtRage Studio Pro. The inks in ArtRage are pretty phenomenal. In this case, I mostly stuck with the technical pen. 
Illustrators out there can see why I enjoy Artrage so much. It's like working on a desktop in realspace. Reference photos pinned, all my tools on the quarter-wheel to the left, all my paints in the palette on the right. 

My first proposed final design. 

You can see one of the differences I made from the Allosaurus in the top image in this post:  The allosaurus had hollow, outlined vertebrae and ribs, with solid black limbs and skull and the Ceratosaurus has the reverse. The dinosaurs are similar enough (and I was proud of my skull linework on the Cerato) that I thought this might be interesting.

Brian made the call, and it was the right one to have both matching: outlined vertebrae and ribs, solid limbs and skull. The two predators are, after all, side-by-side on his arm and so the similarity strengthens the design. 


From left: Allosaurus, revised Ceratosaurus, initial Ceratosaurus. Click to enlarge.
Yeah. The middle one matches the Allosaurus much better, and the skulls have more impact in solid black

Brian visited Jon at Heart of Gold tattoo in Utah again, and here's the final result!  

Brian's arm photo by Tracey Switek.

It was amazing working with Brian Switek again and boy oh boy - I want a dino skeleton tattoo now myself.

You can read more about how the two skeletons I largely worked from for the Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus are related over on Brian's post on the new Laelaps!

If you'd like to see more of my science ink designs, check them out at my portfolio at glendonmellow.com under the science tattoo header


Thanks Brian!

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Two-Headed Mutant Ammonite

© Glendon Mellow


I mentioned on Twitter I was drawing a two-headed mutant ammonite. 
Here's the discussion. 

















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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite © to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

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Making of Trilobite Boy Rocks Out

Last spring, I was contacted by Karen about a commission. Her boyfriend is Mike Haubrich of Quiche Moraine, one of my favourite bloggers and a supporter of my artwork since the beginning of this blog.  I've met a lot of people so far in my blogging, but Mike and Karen are somewhere at the top of the list of people I haven't shaken hands with yet.

Karen wanted to get Mike a painting of mine for his birthday this past August.  I was thrilled, and honoured.  Contract stuff out of the way, we discussed what sort of thing he might like.

I suggested possibly something with a young Darwin and barnacles, and drew a bit in pencil.  I also had this idea for my Trilobite Boy character playing guitar or bass onstage:  I knew Mike has worked in radio and is a rock fan, so it seemed appropriate. (I also had a sketch of Trilobite Boy naked on a fur rug by the fire, but that seemed more appropriate for LouFCD. )






I sent Karen this hastily scrawled image done in ArtRage, a realistic computer painting program:






 Karen loved it, and I got to work.

Next, I did some sketches using my plastic Art S Buck male model.  These generic super-heroically proportioned models (there's a female one too) have about as many points of articulation as the average GI Joe or Star Wars action figure and make a great starting point for life drawing if you don't have a real human handy. Sketches below:





Click to enlarge my scribbles.
I liked the thumbnail sketch near the bottom, and decided not to do another looking-over-the-shoulder pose, like this one.

I selected a beechwood cradleboard to paint on, 12"x18".  I gessoed it black while listening to Debaser and Die Antwoord. Next, I cartooned in the image using white chalk. I find the chalk disperses nicely in the oil paint and it won't slowly rise to the surface of the paint film like graphite can after a number of years.

As oil paintings age, they darken and become more transparent, so it really matters what colour your ground and drawn outlines are. 


Look close and you can see a bandana around his right arm, and bracelet on his right wrist. 


Started painting.  The trilobite fossil and ammonite shell (seen below) were there for colour and texture reference and maybe as superstitiousy talismans, I suspect.  Safety blanket.  Or I just like looking sciencey when I post pictures of my process.

You can see this is what I call the "
Ugly Phase". Lots of splotchy unblended colour laid down. Originally, I planned to have spotlights on the edge of the stage, but I decided to paint over them.  They competed too much with the bright circles of light.

This was getting later one evening, so I was listening to Massive Attack.  Still some fast beats for me to time my brushstrokes to, but mellow enough not to bother my wife while she works on the computer. 





Below, a partially finished head compared with the completed head. 














I worked and re-worked the head and spine of the trilobite body parts over and over.  Still worry the front looks like a big ol' mustache from this angle.  
You can see there's a lot of glare in the photo on the left.   Photos of wet oil paintings are tricky.  What you need to do is have two light sources waaaayy out at the sides, and take the photo.  Or, if you live in a small apartment, take a picture on an angle in diffuse fluorescent light, and use Photoshop to mess with the perspective afterwards. 






For the musicians out there, note how wrong I have the shape of the bass.  I only noticed after everything was almost done.  I wiped it down with tissue dabbed in solvent and re-did the area.  Throughout this painting, I kept returning to the Toronto band Debaser as inspiration.  My good friend Nevin is/was the guitarist, and I love the way he played.  Mind you, he's never done devil horn's on stage that I can recall.

When I paint, I tend to work on one element at a time, bringing it all up in detail before moving on.  This is contrary to how painting is supposed to work:  you really should rough-in everything then refine, going around all the elements.

I like to see the figure emerging from the darkness whole: first an arm, then an eye, then the neck and back, and so on. It feels more like pulling something out of the blackness than painting a picture. 


The finished painting.



I sent images of the final to Karen and waited.  That can be the toughest wait of the job, seeing how the client will react. I try to keep people I'm working for in the loop throughout the process so if there's a major concern we can spot it early, but the suspense when I send that last photo or the final in the mail is still tough.  Karen loved it!  And importantly, thought Mike would to.  She was right.

Rock on Karen, and Happy Birthday Mike!

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Creative Commons Licence.



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Sketch - Trilobite Boy Saves the Day



We're moving pretty soon (possibly sooner than expected!) so not a lot of time to complete self-started projects at the moment.

Here's a sketch for what will be a brightly coloured painting: Trilobite Boy Saves the Day.  I'm thinking bright lime green for the cape. Standing on a red brick rooftop with bright blue sky and fluffy clouds overhead.  I'll probably re-pose the arms.

You can click
here for more Trilobite Boy sketches and artwork.  I'm just getting started with this character and his cast.

Don't forget to vote on my poll!  Kthx.

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Original artwork on
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Creative Commons Licence.

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Art Monday: dinosaur skull sketches

A few past dinosaur skull sketches, mostly made at the Royal Ontario Museum. All done with .3mm or 2mm technical pencil in my trusty Moleskine sketchbooks.


Pachycephalosaurus
. Original post here.

Parasaurolophus
. Original post here.


Oviraptorosaur
. Original post here.


Gryposaurus. Original post here.

The contours and shadows are endlessly fascinating to draw. I gotta get a new ROM membership.


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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Art Monday: Trilobite Tree

Trilobite Tree

Since I am under more deadline pressure than usual, please enjoy this little drawing originally shown on The Flying Trilobite back in June of 2007. Lots of work is happening behind the curtains right now, just like on The Muppet Show. Only imagine Kermit trying to get some painting done while Gonzo rounds up chickens and Fozzie sets fire to the stage. Life is like that sometimes.

Need more sleep. But first must draw anatomy on stretched surgical gloves.


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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
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Fanboy Monday: Cloak & Dagger sketches

Lately I've been filling my sketchbook with some of my favourite characters from various pop culture franchises in a very fanboy-ish manner. So for the month of August, expect each Art Monday to feature something fun and different from usual Flying Trilobite fare.

Cloak & Dagger are two of my favourite Marvel Comics characters, created by Bill Mantlo and Ed Hannigan. The duo are teen runaways who were forced to take a fictional, experimental synthetic heroin, which unleashed their powers. They have fought alongside superhero staples such as Spider-Man, the Punisher and Dr. Strange in their efforts to stop the drug trade, lead normal lives and rescue the innocent. I drew these two in my trusty Moleskine Folio book.

Cloak's real name is Tyrone Johnson. He's a nice guy, a stutterer and he suffers from low self-esteem. When he is Cloak, he can travel through darkness, sweep the guilty into his cloak and the demons within will feed on their guilt. Or their "light". Or their minds. It's a bit vague, which helps with both science-y and magical plots. Unlike his alter-ego Tyrone, Cloak is haughty, brooding and does not stutter. Both as Cloak and Tyrone, he worries he's not good enough for Dagger, on whom he depends to feed him with light to keep the demons inside his cloak.

Tandy Bowen is a rich kid who ran away, and met Tyrone at the bus station. She was an excellent dancer, at one point became blind (with some well-researched stories about what that's like by writer Terry Austin). She can throw light 'daggers' at criminals and infuse them with a sort of pure goodness, painful to their evil bodies. The blindness got better.

Costume-wise, these two represent for me comic characters at their most iconic. Cloak's deep blue and black costume with only his human face -invariably with glowing eyes, and sometimes deep lines- is mysterious and spirit-like. I wanted to show here that his cloak is not always a solid article of clothing, but more unreal, like a piece of fabric you could be lost in.

Dagger on the other hand has one of the only excuses for a superhero to be wearing tights. She's a dancer, and in battle usually gracefully leaps toward the villain hurtling light-daggers at the foe. The deep cutout dagger shape on the skin-tight costume gives her an almost scandalous look, which really doesn't come out in her personality. And I love that weird circle around her right eye.

These days, usually both male and female comic characters have unrealistic bodies, but Cloak's swirling costume, and Dagger's skinny physique are different from that.

Hmm. I will see what I can do about oil painting these two and using Gimp to assemble the final piece.

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Next week: more Marvel!
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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.
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Cloak & Dagger
are copyright and trademark to Marvel Comics.
This is a fan homage, not a licensed illustration.