The Mam­mal That Ate Di­nosaurs: Be­hind The Art

TASTY MORSEL In this short but sweet video, artist James Gur­ney shows how he brought a se­ries of ex­tinct mam­mals back to life for Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Art Tools Software & Training - Pub­lisher James Gur­ney Price $10 (down­load), $24.50 (DVD) Web www.james­gur­ney.com

The tit­u­lar mam­mal that ate di­nosaurs in James Gur­ney’s new video is a repeno­ma­mus, a Cre­ta­ceous-pe­riod pos­sum-like crea­ture. A fos­sil of one such an­i­mal was found with the re­mains of a small di­nosaur in its stom­ach and it’s this in­ter­play of mam­mals and di­nosaurs that in­spired a re­cent Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can mag­a­zine cover story, which James was asked to il­lus­trate. Here he talks through the process be­hind the paint­ings.

The cre­ation of his nat­u­ral his­tory il­lus­tra­tions is ter­ri­tory that James has cov­ered, some­times in greater de­tail, in pre­vi­ous videos such as How I Paint Di­nosaurs. But if this is your first Gur­ney video, you can look for­ward to a con­densed yet de­tailed break­down of his work­ing meth­ods, with plenty of ideas for you to bring into your own process.

Key tech­niques in­clude the cre­ation of a head ma­que­tte (with di­nosaur in mouth), which en­ables James to study the light and shadow across the forms more ac­cu­rately. And the var­i­ous thumb­nails and stud­ies he cre­ates to give the mag­a­zine de­sign­ers plenty of op­tions. You’ll also see mo­ments when the process gets off-track and how James cor­rects it, like the point he re­alises he’s worked too much de­tail into the back­ground fo­liage.

The knowl­edge on dis­play is deep, yet pre­sented in a down-to-earth way that makes you wish there was more here. The down­load is great value, the DVD edi­tion less so – although mak­ing phys­i­cal me­dia and keep­ing the costs down is a chal­lenge for any self-pub­lisher.

The 40-minute run­ning time in­cludes a three-minute bonus on pro­tect­ing il­lus­tra­tion boards from warp­ing. James made and added this clip af­ter feed­back from an early cus­tomer, which just goes to show his com­mit­ment to shar­ing his knowl­edge with the art com­mu­nity.

James Gur­ney’s nat­u­ral-his­tory paint­ing ca­reer comes to the fore in The Mam­mal That Ate Di­nosaurs, a swift over­view of his process. Chil­dren’s mod­el­ling clay and ar­ti­fi­cial eyes help James con­struct a con­vinc­ing skull based on fos­sil pho­to­graphs.

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