Tag Archives: dinosaur

Dinosaur dabblings…

Over Christmas I had the urge to do something creative, but a little less demanding. Back in February 2014 I wrote about a small sculpture I’d created of Allosaurus fragilis, a Jurassic Theropod dinosaur. Frankly this had been lurking in a box ever since I made it, so I decided it was high time to get it out, dust it off, give it a decent paint job and finish it.

I tackle painting a sculpture like this with some of the same sensibilities reserved for making a traditional painting on canvas. The tools and paints may differ, but there are parallels, with careful control of hue and tone used to suggest texture, form and distance. However, I have to say I find this sort of task easier than painting because in some ways it feels a little like 3D colouring-in with clearly defined areas to tackle, the mouth, teeth, hands etc.

I’d spent a lot of time trying to ensure the sculpt was as accurate as I could achieve, and I also wanted to make sure my colour scheme was plausible. Allosaurus was a hunter, and as a rule of thumb standing out from your surroundings really isn’t helpful when stalking prey. So I decided on a muted palette with soft stripes and a counter change of lightish undersides and darker upper body to break up the dinosaur’s profile against the tree line. I originally intended to go quite light and sandy for the main colourway, but it evolved into what became a pleasant dusty, warm green.

Allosaurus left profile dinosaurAllosaurus right profile dinosaur

I used Tamiya liquid acrylic paints in an Iwata Eclipse airbrush for the bulk of the work. Detail was added over the top using Liquitex Heavy Body acrylics and tiny brushes; my poor eyes! This dinosaur is at 1/30th scale, less than 12” from snout to tail, and in common with other small models or sculpts I started by applying a dark purple pre-shading layer over the primer. This informed both the position of the stripes, and helped to define shadowed areas under its limbs. This pre-shading is needed because the effect of ‘real’ light on something so small simply doesn’t always give a convincing ‘weight’ and presence.

Colour too has to be modified. When you view a 12” sculpt of a dinosaur from three or four feet away, it’s the equivalent of looking at the real thing at a considerable distance. At full size the atmosphere between the viewer and subject reduces contrast and makes things appear lighter and bluer. To replicate this in miniature the colours I used were deliberately lightened and toned down to achieve a more convincing reconstruction.

Allosaurus front dinosaur

Dinosaurs, and all manner of prehistoric life, have been a constant passion of mine since I was a very wee person, and now as I plod merrily out of middle age, my interest still shows no signs of dwindling. While I’ll be getting back to painting with a new commission very soon, don’t be surprised if I start work on yet another dinosaur sculpture. Watch this space…

 

Dinosaurs and comic book heroes

Over a year ago now I’d slipped into a bit of a  rut: back from work, an evening of playing Xbox online, bed, work, rinse and repeat. Temporarily fun, but ultimately pointless.

So I determined to reduce the time wasted gaming and re-engage my creative side. I wanted something I could pick up or leave at will. Nothing came to me right away. Then poking around I came across a dinosaur I’d sculpted a year or so previous.

I do love me dinosaurs. Started when I was an enthusiastic, geeky nipper, got worse during my days as an enthusiastic, geeky (and frankly a bit rubbish) biology student and has never left me.

Back in the mid 90’s I made, based and painted this raptor – a 1/5th scale vinyl model kit by Horizon moulded directly from the actual Jurassic Park pre-production models:

Horizon Velociraptor vinyl kit
Horizon Models Velociraptor vinyl kit

Building and air-brushing it was a hoot (the bugger’s about two and a half feet long), but the inaccuracies annoyed me.

So I thought I’d have a bash and made this Allosaurus fragilis from scratch. Purely for my own personal satisfaction, it’s based on respected Paleoartist Greg Paul’s skeletal reconstruction in his book ‘Predatory Dinosaurs of the World’.

Predatory Dinosaurs of the World
Predatory Dinosaurs of the World
Allosaurus fragilis in Super Sculpey
Allosaurus fragilis in Super Sculpey
Allosaurus fragilis in Super Sculpey
Allosaurus fragilis in Super Sculpey
Allosaurus fragilis in Super Sculpey
Allosaurus fragilis in Super Sculpey
Allosaurus fragilis in Super Sculpey
Allosaurus fragilis in Super Sculpey

It’s quite small, 1/30th scale if I remember right, barely a foot from snout to tail. I used Super Sculpey, a pink plastic ‘clay’ which hardens when baked.

Unfortunately it lurched from disaster to disaster and I’ve pretty much written it off as a test piece.

The base still needs finishing, the detailing’s fuzzy (Super Sculpey is over-soft for detail work), the texturing is crude and clunky and not as extensive as planned due to a burning incident (don’t ask)… and cracks, lots of bloody cracks, keep randomly appearing in the supporting leg! (you can see them on the photo of the base). I may revisit it and give it a paint job one day, but not now.

Anyway finding it inspired me to sculpt again, but I reckoned doing another dinosaur would probably give me more angst than enjoyment. So something else then.

Now I also love Marvel Comics. Honestly, my poor old dad wonders where he went wrong. It perturbs him that his mid-fifties son is still into all sorts of ‘babbies stuff’ as he puts it with little sign of growing up. Anyhoo that’s what I decided to do: sculpt one of the heroes of my seemingly extended yoof. Bring on the clay!

Allosaurus fragilis in Super Sculpey
Allosaurus fragilis base in Super Sculpey