Mar 25, 2010

The Real Origin of Batman

Been going through the "fun" process that is applying to teach in a new country... PLEASE smash my head in with a rock or other hard object!!!... When my friend Mike sent me this.

It is too funny!

Mar 22, 2010

Lillian Tranformed

Here is what Lillian ended up looking like after an afternoon of TLC. I think she actually looks pretty darn cool...

She just is not looking much like her inspiration, my all time favourite statue by Brian Cooley, formerly on display at the Tyrrell . This is a old promo shot I came across of the original "Lillian" statue from the 80's (which you can tell from the clothes :P)...

My first Mark 2 model never exactly matched the original sculpture either, to be fair. Though I did try my best with my much more limited skills in those days.

However my new Mark 5 is a total departure from the sculpture. My more attuned sense of accuracy has led Lillian 2.0 to look more like Mr. Cooley's modern era Albertosaurs he built to replace Lillian for the "new" (to me anyways... as I've been away a while) Cretaceous Alberta entrance to the Tyrrell.

My excuse, I guess could be that my Lillian went on a diet after leaving the Tyrrell and lost all her excess bulk. Especially from around her throat region.

However this raises an interesting problem for me. Do I want my CG Lillian to look like the original sculpture or do I want my own take on the "character"?

I originally turned Lillian into a character wanting to keep something of the statue "alive", as the Tyrrell was in the process of getting rid of it when I left the museum. That statue has always been the face of the Tyrrell to me. We go back a long way. I visited Lillian every year between her unveiling in 1985 all the way up to her departure in 2006... (In good news Lillian was donated to the local high school and thus saved from the dump as I'd feared back in 2006.) My motivation was not to copy Mr. Cooley's work, but rather pay tribute to it.

So what do you think?

Is mine still Lillian enough?

Am I copying Mr. Cooley's art too much?

Can mine survive being the same or different from the original statue?

As a funny wrap up, in case you missed it, here is the behind the scenes origin of how Lillian became Traumador's love interest... It's funny how these things happen. Who knew this one tiny gag would have me worrying so much years later?!?

The Downside of Improvement!

So having pretty much mastered my technique for colouring models as Mark 5s, there is just one problem. If I put any of my older Mark 2 style models with a new Mark 5 they look ridiculously cartoonish.

Having mastered and streamlined how I create Mark 5 shaders, it has not been too big a problem to revamp these old shaders. It just takes time!

Of all my old Mark 2 models, I haven't been prouder of any of them than Lillian. She is also one of my oldest models! I built here wayyyyyyy back in early 2008, which is like a whole different epoch in my 3Ding techniques!

Up until recently she has stood up incredibly well. However with the addition of the Mark 5 shaders her whole look changed, and not for the best! Despite not changing the baseline model, Lillian's head went from one of my most impressive to nearly farcical!

It appears that the black outlines of the Mark 2 shaders were drawing emphasis to the parts of her head I sculpted well. While in the Mark 5 doesn't emphasis anywhere. Leaving the many inaccuracies of my old model (from way before I started to really use references!) plain for all to see...
Now that I have entered the era of references it was time to get comparing. In this case to my childhood favourite picture of Albertosaurus by Gregory Paul (its depressing to think this "cutting edge" picture by Mr. Paul is over 20 years old!).

Superficially my old Lillian's skull matches, but if you pay attention to the details they are quite off.

Meaning it was time to finally retool Lillian... Which I suspect will be an ongoing trend this year!

So considering I reworked her skull with just eyeball referencing of this Paul drawing and some skeletal pictures I have from the Tyrrell, she has turned out incredibly well.

Though Lillian is not an exact match for the Paul drawing on all fronts, she is pretty close. I'm going to have to figure out how to get that slender snout look in 3D.
Though to be honest I want to know exactly which skull Paul was referencing for this drawing? All my photos of Albertosaur skulls (5 of them in total) show them to have have taller snouts than this one here. Don't get me wrong I like the slender look, but I'm not sure it is accurate...

Mar 16, 2010

Epic Weekend

I am STILL tired from everything that went down this weekend!

In case I didn't mention it (which I just realized I may not have) this past weekend was the annual Alberta Palaeontological Societies' Symposium. I'd attended a couple of these back in my Tyrrell days, but back then it was more an out of season reunion for all the Tyrrell staffers.

This year I had a totally different agenda. Most of my Tyrrell people have moved on, either to different regions or professions, and as of such there was only a few people I knew to see (which was awesome mind you!).

Due to this though, this year I aimed to get myself out there in the Palaeontologic community, and start networking and replenishing my connections! I was highly successful on this front, but sadly I hit a big stumbling block at the end of the day, but in hindsight it was still a truly epic day!

Bright and Early

Fortunately I woke up a bit early on the morning before my alarm clock, at around 6:30am. After the Olympics (which I still haven't fully recovered from either!) this was really early! This gave me a little bit of extra time to add a couple extra slides I'd forgotten into my powerpoint.

Slides for what you might ask?

My presentation, the first of the day! My lecture "The Fossils of New Zealand: Remnants of a Lost Continent".

In bad news I went about 10 minutes over my time limit (oops! Sorry again to the group right after me!). I was trying to cover a WHOLE countries fossil record in 25 minutes, and to be fair i was just off the cuffing my talk (I didn't have any notes of any kind on me!). In good news my talk went over very well. I had many people compliment me on my talk, and my lecturing style. It also put me on people's radars for the rest of the day.

The only problem with going first was that I started my talk with probably only about 1/3 to 1/2 of the later day's total audience. So I still had to do some leg work getting myself out there.

Among people I most wanted to meet and network with were the Palaeo-artists who were going to be in attendance. Chief among them my long time hero, and favourite artist Marianne Collins. The most influential illustrator of the Burgess Shale ever! Not only did I meet her, but...

The Greatest Lunch Ever!

Marianne was nice enough to let me tag along with her for lunch! Which just got better and better. So in addition to getting to talk to her about such things as artist's rights and illustrating mediums, we suddenly found ourselves sitting with many of the other big names of the conference!

This was my meal company! In the foreground is Marianne Collins and beside her is author Judy Horan (I may have gotten her last name wrong, sorry if this is the case). Across from the ladies was Dr. Scott Sampson (who I hope needs no introduction!), and Michael Skrepnick another super heavy weight Palaeo-artist!

This singular event of the day stands as a competitor for my best moment of 2010. Pushing Speed Skating to a close, but separate second.

Among the highlights were getting to hear two professional palaeo-artists talk shop! Dr. Sampson also praised me on my talk, and asked me a couple questions... He was very intrigued by the prospect of post KT Dinosaurs I mentioned from the Chatham Islands north of New Zealand. Something we should all pay attention for coming from either New Zealand or Australian researchers!

I Learned a Few Things!

The rest of the talks all day were very informative and interesting. Some of the ones that particularly took my fancy included:

A new photography technique that guarantees perfect fossil shots NO matter the lighting in the museum or collections you are shooting in! I'll be giving this a try soon...

What Palaeo-artists have been doing wrong in their reconstructing of Ankylosaurs and Theropod Tails. These were both very relevant to all accuracy seeking Palaeo-artists, and I have made arrangements with the presenters of these talks to perhaps grace ART Evolved with a guest article or two on their subjects!

Dr. Phil Currie gave us a run through of the significant Palaeo-art throughout his life. Starting as a young boy right up into the present. It was a very interesting talk, and among other things I learned that both Dr. Currie and myself were HUGE fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellicular as children.

The Lost Boys

For the last talk of the day the event's organizers had either a sense of humour or drama. We started the day with my talk about the lost continent of Zealandia, and we ended with Dr. Sampson's lecture on the lost continent of Laramidia. Framing the day with lost continents.

Laramidia if you were wondering (as I was too), is the name of western North America during the Cretaceous, as during this time NA was split into 2 or 3 separated land masses by the Western Interior Seaway.

It was a fantastic talk. Which got better when my talk, due to those aforementioned post KT Dinos, was directly referenced in Dr. Sampson's lecture!

A Piece of Unfinished Business!

The other singular thing I was after (and got anyways) was a long overdue photograph. Through all of my years working at the Tyrrell, I have never successful managed to get a photo of me with Dr. Currie. This could not stand, as Dr. Currie has been my longest running hero since childhood. There were several failed attempts at these throughout the years (but I either never got a copy, or they turned out extremely blurry!).

Sadly this latest attempt was a bit on the blurry side, but it works I guess (till next time :P). Besides the Traumador photos with Dr. Currie turned out brilliantly. So I'm not complaining.

The Less Than Ideal Ending

The conference itself was everything I wanted and then some. I had an absolute blast while it lasted. Much in the traditions of most symposiums I've been too, the plan was to move interested people to another venue and carry the discussion on afterwards.

There was just one problem. The pre-"planned" restaurant was shut down due to renovations when we got there. Now as I'd stuck around the lecture hall for 20ish minutes catching up with a couple people not coming out afterwards, my idea had been to show up fashionable late. Only to discover, that everyone was long gone from the shut down location.

To say I was bummed out is an understatement, at the time I was truly shattered. I'd left many things undone (including Traum pics with various palaeo celebs!!!), and more to the point I wasn't able wrap up with many people I'd wanted to. In particular Marianne Collins who'd been nice enough to let me tag along with her all day, and snap all the Traumador photos from this day (talk about a special guest photographer!).

I have managed to contact everyone via email (except Dr. Sampson, but his excuse is good. He is on his way to the White House this week!). So that is something. Not the way I'd hoped to end the day at all, but still a not too bad outcome.

Now I just need to think of something for next years talk :P

(Also a quick note. I'll be away for the next few days on a romantic retreat with Lady R. So please don't take my lack of responses in the comment section personally)

The Final Piece!

Here is the final version of my New Zealand Dinosaurs I ended up with. Sorry it took so long to post, but due to the time constraints of getting my talk completely together it had to wait.

I ended up reposing the Theropod to make the scene more dynamic and alive (except in the case of what I put in his mouth :P).

As for the talk that it went in. That will be my next post.

Mar 12, 2010

A Masterpiece In A Night...

Alright so after another day of showing Lady R around town, I've gotten back to my New Zealand Dinosaurs piece.

So here is my progress thus far. I just upped the lighting.

I plan to crank out the whole piece by the end of tonight!

Mar 11, 2010

Talk Preperation

Alright the next big item on my plate is my New Zealand Fossil talk.

With some big names of palaeontology set to attend (and present after me) I figure it couldn't just to have some of my best palaeo art illustrating the talk. Especially as there is only a few previous pieces by other artists I could include. Otherwise my talk would be nothing but snap shots of various specimens.

So for NZ's Dinosaurs I'm thinking a herd of Hypsilophodon being chased by a...

Big generic theropod.

So both are in need of work obviously, but feedback is welcome.

Mar 10, 2010

I might just make it :P

After a nice day of taking the girl shopping, I only really had the evening to tinker on my Spinosaur piece.
Due to this time constraint (along with ALL the other stuff I need to get done this week!) I went with the most obvious and easy to complete confrontation for the Spinosaur theme. Spinosaurus vs. Spinosaurus.

This is the initial pose, set, and lighting. In many ways it is my favourite composition, as the lighting interaction on the models gives the Dinosaurs a sense of being part of the actual photograph.

There was just one tiny problem. Due to the composition of the photograph (I didn't frame it at the time with two Spinosaurs in mind) the Spinosaurs hide in the background. Notice how they and their fins remain out of the blue sky. When this picture is shrunk to the rough size it will be in the magazine you can't make them out easily.

In a large format, this is my favourite version. However as it'll be small in the magazine I needed to rework the whole piece!
The solution was "easy". I simply reversed the photograph plate, keeping the Dinos in exactly the same spot.

This wasn't actually easy, as I had to reset all the lighting. This caused all sorts of problems. The opposite angle of the lights hide all my models mechanics. From the new angle it exposed all of them! So after an hour of minor tweaking and test rendering, we finally hit this version.

Again invoking a sense of photo integration (though not as well as the top one).

Leaving me with one last, but actually easy to fix, problem. In a smaller scale the previous picture leaves the Dinosaurs visible, but devoid of detail. In order to bring them out of the background entirely for the magazine I've cranked up the lighting values to twice the natural level.

I don't like it. Especially in the larger scale. However its all about keeping options open, especially for the magazine.

Mar 8, 2010


So the real joke of my 2010 is that 90% of it occurs now!

I had the Olympics which were intense (awesome, but intense). Now I have a billion Palaeo projects, that all are due this week!

First on the block is a Spinosaur for the Prehistoric Times...

This is my start. It is just a lighting and plate test. I'm thinking of having this full grown Spino being challenged by something for its fish. Should it be more Spinosaurs? Or a Carnosaur?

I also have to get my talk (and some palaeo art to spruce it up) done for the weekend... As I present it to the Alberta Palaeontological Symposium on Sat. The guest list includes a certain Currie and Sampson... So there is no pressure or anything!!!

I'll be keeping you posted as these progress.

Oh and some sort of Saurian related winter games... I need to start posting those too!

So yeah. By the end of March I'll just be in a coma to recover from it all.

Wish me luck!

It's my Birthday, and I'll geek out if I want too!

Today I have exactly one year left to my 20's. As of such I'm vowing to do all the silly stuff I hadn't gotten around too yet.

First of all is this fun Star Trek quiz I came across thanks to NeuroDojo.

My results are as follows:
You are James T. Kirk (Captain)

James T. Kirk (Captain)
Beverly Crusher
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Will Riker
Deanna Troi
Mr. Sulu
Jean-Luc Picard
Geordi LaForge
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Mr. Scott
You are often exaggerated and over-the-top
in your speech and expressions.
You are a romantic at heart and a natural leader.

Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Test

So there you have it.

I promise to get around to some posts about Tasmania, Vancouver, and the Olympics.

At moment me and Lady R are settling in here in Calgary. So far all is well. Keep you posted.

There are likely to be some Drumheller and Palaeo adventures coming up ubber soon (thus delaying all my other backlogged adventures further... so let me know of Aussie, Olympics, or Van you wish to read more about. As time is not something I have tons of these days!)

Mar 2, 2010

I used to praise Bruce Timm?

So we were renting some movies to put on in the background of our work.

Among them was one of Bruce Timm's latest direct to DVD movies.

Green Lantern: First Flight.

I haven't been 100% about Bruce Timm's efforts after his ongoing DC animated TV series. So far the only of these movies that I have slightly enjoyed was Justice League New Frontier.

Well I can now safely say Green Lantern is the worst thing (other then maybe Gotham Knights) Timm has done.

There was not a single good moment in this production.

Yeah I agree with that look Hal. It really was puzzling just how bad Green Lantern was.

The movie was one none stop action sequence, but with no framing or intelligence. We had NO idea who any of these characters were (even having read the comics it was pretty lame). There was next to no plot.
The worst part of all, the none stop action consisted of nothing more then someone shooting an energy beam and the other person blocking with their energy device, harmlessly deflecting the attack. Repeat several more times... Until the Green Lanterns needed to win the fight, and suddenly they'd out will through an adversaries defenses.
I'm really starting to wonder if I should seek out Bruce Timm projects anymore?
Wonder Woman was good I'm told. So we'll see if that can redeem things a bit.

Mar 1, 2010

Live Blogging: Okay not so live...

Due to the precious and limited nature of the time we had/have available, I opted to not post anymore on my progress from last night. The sacrifice was worth it I'd venture (especially as not many of you would have been as foolish as us and still awake into the early morning).
Here is where Mr. Rex ended up.
Key improvements include:
  • New and improved leg to hip connection
  • Way better toes
  • Refined claws
  • A total overhaul of the arms/hands
  • Experimental lips (not sure how I like these yet...)
There are a few things that still need work. I have to put all the lip scales back, and maybe a few new little details.
JUST before I went to bed in the wee hours of the night I threw together a quick skeletal rig to test pose him.
I think he is starting to look pretty sweet already. Though I need to fix the foot area of the rig. Still not bad for a 10 minute stab at it.

So I present to you the Bond/Dylke hybrid 3D Tyrannosaur!