Wednesday, 2 August 2017

HOW TO DRAW A WUKONGOPTERUS

Hi folks!

I´m racing towards the finish on my follow up to the dinosaur book from earlier this year. This one, as you perhaps already know, is about pterosaurs and their reptilian marine contemporaries: ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and mosasaurs plus a few others. 

One of the brilliant scholars who are helping me getting the sciency stuff right for the upcoming book is pterosaur luminaire Dr. Mark Witton - a well known name in the paleontology community. He´s made a rather flattering piece about my stylised approach to paleoart on his blog, which also includes a lengthy interview with yours truly. 

Head on over to markwitton-com.blogspot.se and have a look. If you're at all interested in paleontology and trailblazing paleoart I wholeheartedly recommend following Marks well written, informative and often highly amusing blog.

To celebrate the upcoming book and unexpected paleontological attention I thought I´d divulge some of the secrets behind my particular brand of paleoart. This techinque just requires a pencil, some copying paper and an eraser. 
Plus of course an iMac computer with a Photoshop license and a Wacom Cintiq tablet...

STEP ONE - RESEARCH

The most important step. We´re not just drawing any old monster here, but reconstructing a real animal that was very much alive at one point in history. I look up the creature I´m about to illustrate in books (I´ve got an extensive reference library at this point) and also by using google, wikipedia, paleontology blogs, academic papers - the more information you can gather the better. What the animal ate, how, where and when it lived is just as important as the basic anatomy when you do a reconstruction.
I also study skeletals and other peoples reconstructions to get a feel for the animal. In this case I chose the basal Chinese pterosaur Wukongopterus as my subject. 

STEP TWO - SKETCH

I do a sketch on paper using an HB pencil on normal A4 copy paper (I personally prefer the slightly heavier 120 g paper). I then scan this loose drawing into my computer.

Sketch

STEP THREE - TWEAKING

I open up the sketch in Photoshop and slightly tweak the sketch. Sometimes I move things around or make features larger and smaller - everything to get the basic anatomy right. In this case it´s hard to see but I used the warp transform tool ever so slightly to accentuate the sprawling posture somewhat.

Tweaked sketch

STEP FOUR - BASIC COLOURS

I put the sketch layer in multiply and create a new layer under it. Using the polygonal lasso tool as much as possible ( to get that special Egerkransian angular feel ) the shapes are blocked in and coloured. The coloration of the animal is pretty much made up as I go along but the aim is always to make it believable so I take a lot of inspiration from birds and other animals. I try not to simply copy paste patterns from living animals onto the reconstruction, but rather use them as starting points for a new unique colour scheme.

Basic colours

STEP FIVE - LINEART

In a new layer on top of the colours the lineart is added. The actual pencil sketch won´t be seen in the final image but I try to stay true to the spontaneity of the loose lines in the preliminary drawing when I do the lineart. I also choose brushes with a little texture to create "nerve" in the lines.

Lineart

STEP SIX - SHADOWS

I createca new multiply layer at 50-60 % opacity and draw in the shadows, often using a greyish violet. The shadows help define the shapes and anatomy of the animal, making it less flat.

Shadows

STEP SEVEN - DROPSHADOW

To make it even more three dimensional a grey/cyan dropshadow was added under the pterosaur in this case. 

Dropshadow

STEP EIGHT - ADDING A BIT OF TEXTURE

After that I slapped on one of my patented watercolour textures in overlay mode on top of the whole thing, which brings it all together and makes the final image feel less "computery". 

And with that my friends, we are done! 

Wukongopterus








Friday, 5 May 2017

VAESEN

Finally!!
The first copies of Vaesen - the english language edition of Nordiska Väsen - have just arrived!! Personally I think the anglosaxon version looks even better than than the original thanks to the shorter, larger title which really pops in all its gilded splendour.

Order it here: http://www.bokus.com/bok/9789132181948/vaesen-spirits-and-monsters-of-scandinavian-folklore/

The ISBN number is 9789132181948 if you want to search for it that way.

It's still a Swedish book so it's not available in the States yet but hopefully it'll find it's way to Amazon soon.


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

PTEROSAURS AND SEA MONSTERS

Hello boys and girls!

My dinosaur book "Alla tiders Dinosaurier" has been out for a while now and I'm rather happy to say that the reaction has been very positive. Not only has it received great reviews in the Swedish press and book blogosphere, but it also seems to have been embraced by the paleoart and paleontological community to a much larger degree than I had expected.
Which of course is very nice.

Here's some links to a couple of reviews (all in swedish I'm afraid):

Dagens Nyheter

Tidningen Kulturen

Borås Tidning mfl.

There's also an exhibition based on the book at the Stockholm House of Culture & City Theatre (Kulturhuset Stadsteatern). I helped curate it which was a lot fun, and they've even built a large scale model of a Camarasaurus based on my art. The exhibition will be  running at least until the end of May (and perhaps over the summer as well) so if you're in Stockholm swing by and have a look.

Camarasaurus (right) next to the author (left)

http://kulturhusetstadsteatern.se/Bibliotek/Rum-for-Barn/Evenemang/2017/Alla-tiders-dinosaurier/

I'm now working on the sequel which will simply be called "Flygödlor och havsmonster" (Pterosaurs and Sea Monsters) which will deal with all those other funky mesozooic reptiles that weren't dinosaurs but were around at the same time.

Here's a few samples from that new tome. Enjoy!


Mosasaur vs Pteranodon


Dorygnathus


Dsungaripterus


Platypterigius