Nov 2, 2012

My productivity of late

Just thought I'd post some of my most recent work here. Though do keep up with my dedicated palaeo-art site at I post everything there!

Stegosaurus Progress

I've been quite productive in between the hecticness at work lately. All my last few Dinosaur pieces have been models or entire scenes that I started long ago, and only had to do some finishing work on now.

The one true new construction I've been toying with lately is a piece for the Stegosaur gallery.

Work in progress
It is a long ways off, but I'm quite happy with how the environment is building up. I'm not happy with the Stegosaurus base colouration underneath the bright blue. So I will be playing with that a lot more immediately after this post.

Oct 23, 2012

Avengers Ripoff #6

My favourite fake teamup by far. Buzzlight Year, Mr. Incredible, Pelvic Thrust Batman, and.... well you can't love them all... Spiderman.

Avengers Ripoff #5

Yet another counterfeit superhero teamup. Ben 10 takes the cake on weird member. Though pelvic thrust Batman tries darn hard to compete.  

Avengers Ripoff #4

 Another counterfeit superhero set. This time we see the movie stars Wolverine, Captain America, Spiderman, and... Gladiator?!?

Transformers Ripoff #62

Chariot King: Transform

Transformer Ripoff #61


Transformers Ripoff #60

Sorry these aren't the best pictures. I snuck these snaps in a very carefully guarded and hostile (especially to photographers) Chinese department store. I barely managed these given the one clerk who was keeping her eye on me (I got it in while she was helping another customer).

Conversion: Metals Car

Avengers Ripoff #3

Bonus points to anyone who can present an actual comic with all these characters on one team together

Avengers Toy Ripoff #2

Like I predicted, after this summer of super hero blockbusters the counterfeits have really started to roll out on the streets of Hong Kong. So with three choices of film Dark Knight, Spiderman, and Avengers I've been finding it humorous how these all get combined.

Take for example who this "Avengers" set includes... 

Transformers Ripoff #59


Transformers Ripoff #58

Interchange Super Marshal
Robots Warriors

Transformers Ripoff #57

Dong Man Jin Gang

Transformers Ripoff #56

X-Formers Mutantes: Power Trucks

Oct 13, 2012

This is why I hate making Stegosaurs!

 Now that Stegosaurs have officially won the ART Evolved poll, time to hammer out a submission. As I'm starting to find my artistic bearings returning (especially after my museum success), I want to create a very unique and hitting reconstruction for this gallery. 

Before I can do that I need to tweak and fix my model for posing.

That means I have to rig every plate... Which is "fun". Increasing my enjoyment, it takes about 5-10 minutes per plate...

Oh well. Once it is done I have a fantastic scene in mind to show off a twist on Stegosaurus I've never seen before.

Oct 7, 2012

Is this a finished piece or not?

After a bunch of rendering through the night (I slept while my computer worked) I'm finally close on this Goronyosaur piece.

In fact I'm personally happy with how it looks now. However my wife has accurately pointed out the water is too blue given the stormy sky. I totally agree, but I don't want to render it all again, and I like the paintingy look it gives the piece.

Possible final version
Is the water too blue for you to handle
What do you think? Is this finished or not?

Oct 6, 2012

Contrasting with other splashes

I've improved the splashes a bit on the Goronyosaur piece. However I hit a better way to improve the piece, and that is my old friend photoshop.

Work in progress
I took some of the highlight out of the splashes, they were looking like balloons. The big coup of today was tinkering with the contrast in paintshop. The final product will definitely undergo this treatment.

Nearly there...

I'm closing in on the winning splash amount and placement for my Leopard Goronyosaurus.

Work in progress
The problems are minor but definitely there. The most important is the flatness of the prey splash off the ocean. I'm adding some supplementary splashes to give that a more rounded feel. The splash off the Goronyosaur's neck is doing something funny with its transparency, so that will need a bit of a tweaking. Finally while I like the blooded water around the neck, the stuff out of the Goronyosaur's mouth seems a bit over the top. So it'll be gone next pass.

Apart from that I think it is starting to come together alright. I also want to build a shoreline to put in the background, but beyond that this might be the end of what I thought would be a long build.

Oct 5, 2012

A better colour for splashes

I think I got this a bit better on the shader. I need a LOT more splashes yes, but I think I got the colour pretty darn close...

Work in progress

It's all a matter of scale

Been plugging away on 3D splashes in between staff meetings (I got promoted to a vice chair on the sports committee... ironic given my sports history) and renewing my HK work visa (can't believe I've been here a year now).

While the splashes as objects show promise, at moment they just don't do the trick...

Work in progress
They are way too big, and their shading is totally wrong. In my efforts to fix it I created an interesting mistake where the splashes glowed bright white when they overlapped anything else... I would post it, but I didn't finish the render (my new splashes are sadly bogging down renders to a snail paced 30-40min for 2000X2000 resolution... I'm only rendering when I'm really wanting to see stuff).

Oct 4, 2012

Making Splashes

I've always loved creating stuff to do with water, but hated making the water itself in 3D. It is a very complex and finicky substance to imitate, especially when it comes to splashes. Typically I've tried to use Carrara's frustratingly limited particle systems for these, but they are next to impossible to get precious control over and add horrendous amounts of render time.

With my new Goronyosaur piece, I need splashes EVERYWHERE, but I'll be darned if I'm going to waste days and days fighting with particles (AND rendering them) to make this happen (if they let me in the first place). So I've branched out into a new tool in Carrara I've never used before, one I should have tried years ago!

Work still in progress
It is called metaball, and it seems perfectly built to make still water splashes. I was able to use it instantly for this purpose (although admittedly I won't be able to do anything else with it at all right now). All you do is create spheres that the program than will connect through virtual viscosity, and thus you get great looking water.

The only issue I'm having is keeping droplets the right size at moment.

I do need to tune the splash shader a bit, but for a quick 20 minute play I think these prototype splashes are promising...

Thoughts or comments?

Oct 3, 2012

Ripping into a new piece

Well given that I got a new Mosasaur done, I needed something for him to do. As I based my Goronyosaur on a Leopard Seal, I took a quick look through photos of my favorite seal type to see if anything leapt out at me. Funny enough this photo popped right out at me. So I've tried to recreate this with a Globidens juvenile as a fill in for the Penguin (based on some of the musings by Darren Naish in this article, where a possible reason of Goronyosaurus' crazy jaws was hunting down the young of other marine reptiles... Globidens being (I believe) found in the same general area and time).

Work in progress
I'm no where near finished (I'm hoping obviously). I definitely need a ton of splash and water commotion to properly convey the motion and power going on here. I also wanted to add some land on the horizon to put this into a clearly coastal setting.

I'm quite happy with the clouds I've put in and light. I think the initial lighting is serviceable for the moment.

Thoughts, input, or comments?

Oct 2, 2012

Expanding my Mosasaur ranks

I was in an artistic funk, but had a long weekend the last few day where I had the time to let loose. So rather than give into my apathy, I figured I'd aim to do some more obscure critters. Obscure because that has so far been my ticket to success (which makes sense, everyone and anyone has done T-Rex, but how many have done Squalodon). 

 So I decided to tackle something easy, but still neat. Thus I did one of the most unusual of Mosasaurs. The crocodile (yet cartoon) like Goronyosaurus.

Seriously it is such a ridiculous skull.

The shader proved (as always) to be the time consuming part. I went for a Leopard Seal, after a failed Pilot Whale scheme.

The only problem is I have no reliable info on body proportions on one of these guys. Only the skull...

Does anyone know much about Goronyosaurus.

Thoughts or comments?

Sep 29, 2012

Ready for a Plate victory...

Yes I'm counting my fossils before they're found, but I nearly finished my Stegosaur for the next ART Evolved gallery.

There are a few tweaks needed, but overall I'm happy with it.

I did a quick picture test. I think it is looking promising.

Thoughts or comments?

Sep 26, 2012

Hedging my bets

Yes I know the vote on ART Evolved isn't over, and it could go either way before the end. However given Stegosaurs are currently winning two to one (though that's only a 4 vote lead so far) I thought a bit of preparation work couldn't hurt.

She's not done (I'm hoping) obviously. I just got the baseline shaders composed, ready for harder more detailed work when Stegosaurs (hopefully) win.

Sep 23, 2012

Taking a break from breaks

Man I thought moving to Hong Kong was tough this time last year. I should have tried starting work up properly.

We've been back at school now for three weeks, and holy smokes it has been hard work! Honestly the whole teaching facility feels like it has been three months already...

Given my success in the summer with my palaeo-art now in museums, you'd think I would have jumped right back into the art. Well no. If anything I decided I needed a break from it all. Especially given work has seen that I haven't had a whole lot of free time this past month...

Today, while doing some tidying up type chores in anticipation of my wife's return from a month long trip home to visit her family, I started tinkering on a possible critter for the next ART Evolved gallery.

Yes Stegosaurs haven't won the poll yet, but I'm game either way for Plates or Armour. However as all my Plate modelling was stuck in the Traumador era this gal needed some major revising...

Aug 22, 2012

10 years ago...

This whole growing up thing is weird. Time seems to just pass by silently, and events that felt recent suddenly were a decade ago.
One such event occurred roughly 10 years to this day. While it in some ways is a very silly thing for me to reflect on, it has been a constant flavour of, what I consider, my adult life.
It was the closing of the 2001 summer camp season, and I was wrapping up my third summer at Kamp Kiwanis my first long term job. What I didn't realize at the time was this would be my last summer at Kiwanis, while simultaneous the teaching program I got into would not pan out for another seven years.
However on this day, while finishing packing up my cabin two of my best friends of the era (one is still to this day) came to help and give me company. They brought with them a new game acquisition. One that would become an addiction for the next five times two years.
Having rehooked me on comic books some six months earlier, this new game would be far more dangerous than my old game of choice the Star Trek card game. The superhero miniatures game Heroclix.
Given that the game is celebrating its tenth year I thought I might do a few top ten posts about the game.
I promise to resume "normal" blog functions here shortly. Whatever normal is on this blog anyways :P

Aug 16, 2012

My New Art Logo

Well I'm truly an official artist now. I've just sold my first works to two clients (one museum and one fan). All I have to say is it is nice to have money to buy Heroclixs with that the wife can't complain about :P

An incidental idea presented itself as I was using Paypal. There is space provided for you to upload a logo. At the time I didn't have one, but now I might just have something to throw in there in the future.

My new art logo
Here is my new art logo. What do you think?
My new art logo
Here it is with writing. My only complaint is I can't for the life of me figure out to flip the web address in Corel Paintshop when wrapping it to the circle.

By myself (Craig Dylke)
Test with a recent piece to demonstrate the new logo
I'm thinking about using it as my watermark as well.

So does this work. Does it look semi-pro? Granted remember I'm not quiting my day job. I'm just a part time palaeo-artist still (I can't even go THAT crazy on the Heroclix :P)

Aug 5, 2012

Seems I just graduated to a real Palaeo-artist!

There has been some big developments in my palaeo-art "career" this past month, in that as of the past two weeks I now have a career of sorts to speak of!
During my last week of work I was contacted by a museum in New Zealand putting together an exhibit about Mesozoic New Zealand. If there is a topic I'm the modern specialist in (following in the footsteps of the far more talented Geoffrey Cox) it is prehistoric New Zealand. The museum contacted me due to my recent heavy online presence of New Zealand marine reptiles, but they also wanted to use some of my (comparatively really really) old Zealandia Dinosaurs.

Now I had a surprise in store for them on the Dinosaur front. I've been working on updating all my Zealandia Dinosaurs for a book I'm in the midst of putting together on the topic. Granted I only had some of them done, and no final pieces. However the museum was thrilled with what I had to show them, and said if I just bashed them into some New Zealand looking photos they'd be very pleased (the irony is most of the photos are from dreaded Australia :P).

So over the two weeks before my trip to China I had some composites to do (and a few minor model or texturing tweaks). I'm mostly happy with my output except the Sauropod in its solo piece (but that was the 11th hour critter, and the museum didn't care it was a super old inaccurate model).
Just before the end of my trip to China I have now been contacted by a European museum about the use of my Squalodon piece. Meaning as of now I guess I'm a "real" palaeo-artist...

A quick run through of my Zealandia output.
Zealandia Dinosaurs by myself (Craig Dylke)
This was an overview piece I threw together to show off what typical life in Cretaceous New Zealand would have been like. I feel kind of bad throwing the Titanosaur into the river, but I didn't have any descent photos with this sort of POV where it could be on the ground and not be behind a ton of trees (aka lots more photoshopping for me on a tight schedule).
Zealandia Hunt by myself (Craig Dylke)
This is a redo of one of my first ever New Zealand pieces. It was that original that really peaked the museum's interest in my Dinosaurs. While they said they'd be more than happy to use the 2009 version, I wasn't. The Ornithopods in that shot are of Traumador vintage, and thus cartoons. Not something I wanted as my official breaking out. I redid this version for the occasion. While I'm very pleased with how much better the Ornithopods came out, the Carnosaur isn't as awesome as the first version.

Part of this was a shader conflict I was having. The Carnosaur in the first looks so good as he is in direct comparison to the inferior Ornithopods. The instant I put that shading set in with the new Ornithopods we had a problem. You could suddenly see his shader was over 3 years old! I ended up (due to time) having to use the Gorgosaur textures on him, and while it "works" I'm still not pleased with it.

The other issue was the original Carnosaur is from my "wing it" modelling method era. This new version is properly proportioned and built to match a Carcharodontosaurid skeleton. This made the head smaller. In the original piece his head was probably 30-50% too big, and gave him a more impressive and scary maw. Here it's not as monster like. So while being more scientifically accurate and life like, some of the aesthetic appeal has been removed.

New Zealand Ornithopod by myself (Craig Dylke)
If I had to pick my current favourite Dinosaur model from my catalogue, this would be the one. I'm very glad I started reworking the Ornithopod last November. While I posted on the remodelling I was doing, I didn't post my further feather/fur additions to the model.

So this one I'm quite pleased with (though I might add footprints in the snow at some point).

New Zealand Ankylosaur by myself (Craig Dylke)
I'm also very happy with how the Ankylosaur ended up integrating into photos, despite his vivid and bright colour scheme.

New Zealand Carnosaur by myself (Craig Dylke)
I'm surprised this one worked out at all (I'm not 100% pleased with it). This particular shader only works in a pure forest. I was about to scrap it altogether when I upped the light out of desperation. Amazingly it worked if I matched the rough lighting of the canopy on the shader. So given my time constraints I kept it.

Oceans of Zealandia by myself (Craig Dylke)
I also threw together a redo of my oceans of Zealandia. I'm still very fond of my original 2009 seas of Zealandia series, and so this just required sticking in the Elasmosaur and updating the lights. A nice easy improvement.

New Zealand Coelurosaur by myself (Craig Dylke)

As time ran out so did the quality of my pieces. While this piece is not terrible, it is by no means good or great...

This fellow was the true dud of this current effort. With no time left I emergency tweaked my 2009 Brachiosaur to have more Titanosaurian proportions and rendered it. When I saw tweak that's what I mean. I only had a couple hours so textures, overall modelling, and mistakes all remained as they were in 2009. In particular the feet and claws are all wrong. In the future I intend to fix it for the book project.

So there you go. I'm now Craig Dylke palaeo-artist at large. Whatever that means :P

Aug 3, 2012

Transformers Ripoff #55

Monster King

While not strictly a transformer, it was a robot and the catch phrase in chinglish was too good not to post, as this fellow "fight the brigade"!

Transformers Ripoff #54

Missile Truck

This one is one of the best to come from China yet! It is the missile truck that "change into robot and missile eagle" no less...