Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Picture of the Day: a Temnospondyl

This is a drawing I did for a book that never appeared. A pity, since I don't even have the original, just this bromide. It is one of my better works and portrays the Australian Middle Triassic Paracyclotosaurus davidi, a member of the Mastodonsauridae (but thats another story).


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Sean Craven said...

Very nice work, sir.

I don't suppose you'd care to provide a few more details about the animal in question? Size, nature of the remains, and so on?

And if you don't mind an impertinent intrusion into the artistic process, I find that straight pencil/graphite drawing are usually a little weak wen it comes to contrast. I've found that using a black Prismacolor (or any other black colored pencil) to reinforce the deepest areas of shadow can really make things pop.

But again, this is lovely work. I'm always jealous of people who can do really accurate reconstructions that use deep space.

Adam Yates said...


you are absolutely right, more recent work of mine (not that I get much time these days) uses a very soft black pencil for the deepest shadows.
Paracyclotosaurus davidi is known from a complete skeleton preserved in a large nodule collected from a brick pit in Sydney Australia (now filled in). The actual bone is actually missing, what s preserved are the spaces where the bones used to be. These were cast to provide positives of the bone and a mounted skeleton used to be, and still might be, on display at the natural history museum n London. The total length of the animal is just over 2 metres. Skin impressions are preserved and indicate that the body was covered in small rounded fish-like bony scales.
Paracyclotosaurus has since been found in similar aged strat in India and South Africa, ie. it is a Gondwanan taxon.
It was probably an aquatic predator that mostly ate fish but I don't think there was anything stopping it from taking any other smallish tetrapods that crossed its path.

Adam Yates said...

I've taken your survey, I hope it helps you.

Sean Craven said...

Hey, Adam!

Thanks for the info.

I can't help it -- gonna go all art-nerd on you.

The reason I suggested using a black colored pencil is that at least for me, after a certain point graphite can become over-worked and when that happens it gets a certain shiny quality that I find unattractive. The Prismacolor doesn't do that -- but it isn't erasable. So I add it toward the end when I know exactly where I'm going to use it.

I also use (used, rather -- these days I'm mostly working digitally from sketches) areas of black ink with highlights added in white colored pencil.

This approach really does allow you a wider range of tone than you can get from graphite alone. Not trying to bully you into my approach but it's nice to be able to talk about this stuff with someone who understands what you're talking about.

Here's an example, if you're curious. The keratinous parts were done in ink with white Prismacolor, the rest in pencils ranging from 4B to 9B with Prismacolor for the darkest parts. (It's a Protoceratops andrewsi, a purported male I believe.)

Sean Craven said...

Waitaminnit, temnospondyl scales were fishlike? That changes everything.