HP Tracy Ford wrote:
> > Ok, lets look at this point. When did Jim start his work
and what was
> > at that time? NO FEATHERS on
theropods. Sure he can change his theropods,
> > but then he'd have
to change his whole world and explain that hey, I was
> > wrong when
I started but I'll change everything now but can't explain why
that happened in his world.
This is a fact scientists can also explain: when new
fossils are found, scientists and paleoartists have to change their way to
show or paint dinosaurs, while in a fantasy characters have to stay quite the
In my case, I just finished a _Nanotyrannus_ drawing:
it's lipless, of course, because it's the most likely. But in my comic-strip,
I'll go on drawing lips on my "dinosaur-like characters" - well, all right, I
don't speak about true dinosaurs here - because it's easier to give'em mimics,
and because I prefer them like that.
Back to paleoart...
I began to draw paleoart after watching WWD on tv,
the scaly _Utahraptor_ with wrong hands and all those kind of things, now
I draw all little coelurosaurs feathered, even my _Nanotyrannus_ is a bit
*** In the right arena or framework, there is nothing
wrong with extrapolating on reality.
I am a big fan of fantasy art when it's well executed
and presented in an appropriate
forum. I just like to take extra steps in
preventing confusion amongst individuals who
might innocently come to false conclusions when the
material is presented in close
proximity to science related material. As an
experiment, stand sometime in a
paleontology museum exhibit and just listen in on
some of the comments and
conclusions people make based on the information
before them. You may be surprised
to see how easily they are lead astray.
MS wrote, in a previous post:
> If scientific
(paleontological ) "fact" is based on physical evidence or
repeatability, then truly "scientifically accurate" paleo art must be
restricted to illustrations of skeletal material or paleo ichnological
evidence. Fleshed out reconstructions of dinosaurs, etc...
> referenced to skeletons, myology, modern analogs and
> collaboration with paleontologists STILL remain
speculative in terms of
> outer integument, other external soft
anatomical features, color, etc. . ..
> While this imagery remains our
closest hope of experiencing a living
> terrestrial dinosaur, it is both
hypothetical and speculative, subject to
> artistic taste and skill and
( as much as I might not like to admit it)
> inexorably bound to the
annals of a nebulous "grey" zone, from an academic
Of course it's speculation! But IMHO it's all the fun
we have, us, the paleoartists, to draw the dinosaurs as how we think they
were, based on scientific evidence, and it's sometimes up to us to explain to
people the difference between our illustrations and dino-fantasy (see the link
*** I agree. We can only go by the best
information available in assessing the "look"
of living dinosaurs and until we invent a way of
retrieving live examples from the past,
or develop new techniques of recovering more detail
from fossil specimens, this is as
good as it gets. Entering into discussions with
the public, based on the artwork, is a
good jumping off point from which to make people
aware of the newest discoveries in
paleontology. This is however, complicated
enough in and of itself, without having to
"explain away" the false and gratuitous
embellishments of movie makers. Again the
combination of movie producers and scientific
advisors is a bad mix, when the advisors
are there merely as "propoganda" and the advisory
recommendations are ignored in
favor of sensationalism and ticket sales.
Dinosaurs only based on information provided
by paleontologists would have been just as intriguing
on the big screen as the "improved"
Hollywood versions, but would have avoided all
"corrections and explanations" endured
by the academics after the fact. To avoid the
confusion, either produce "state of the art"
dinosaurs using the best current information, or lose
the advisors and make a glorified
Godzilla flick where there are no false impressions
about what you are looking at.
> (Not that this for an
instant would dissuade me from the
> pursuit of my artistic
And there I agree with you.
> > So your going to tell a child who loves dinosaurs that he
> > dinosaurs from Dinotopia at the Smithsonian Natural
History Museum, where
> > he/she knows dinosaurs are but at an Art
Museum all because of
> > 'Scientist/dino artist" didn't like it at
the USNM because it was fiction?
> > Won't work, they know where
dinosaurs are suppose to be. And I really
> > think
it's the ones who are really into dinosaurs that need to be shown
> > difference, it's the adults and those who 'fake' knowing
> > all meet them). I say it's better at the USNM
because there THEY WOULD be
> > able to tell people the difference
and not at an ART museum, but the Art
> > museum would only be
interested in the 'art' and not the 'science'. Kind
> > a
> *** Sorry, but go to the dinosaur halls to learn about dinosaurs and
> the art
> museum to enjoy masterfully painted fictional
art (dinosaurs or otherwise).
> It won't
> hurt the kids to be
exposed to a broader range of artwork also displayed in
> an art
museum. The visitors to the paleo exhibits who are unfamiliar with
> trying to learn about will have an easier time of
it without having to
> interpret the
> fictional element.
Do you wanna drive little kids to the museum ? In
this case the "Dinotopia" exhibition can help very much, and scientists will
explain them why the Dinotopia characters aren't feathered and why we think
now dromies were feathered, they can show them photos or feathered fossils,
and kids will understand very well, don't worry!!!
Plus, they'll see a big _Allosaurus_, _Triceratops_
or other dinosaurs skeletons; even if they aren't well mounted (and scientists
can expain them why, it takes time to correct it), they'll see 'em; maybe
they'd never came to see 'em without the Dinotopia exhibition.
And it's the same for some amateurs.
***If kids are interested enough to want to see
Dinotopia, they will convince their
parent(s) to take them wherever it's on display. If
they make a trip to an art museum
and a paleontology museum, it will only teach them
more and increase their
knowledge of the world. If the parent(s) aren't
willing to make the effort to take
the kids to see both, I consider that to be a bad
reflection on their function as a
parent. Also, I don't think I remember a single
instance of visiting a paleontology
museum or exhibit, where I've encountered a
paleontologist sitting out in the
public galleries, addressing questions by random
passersby about the content of
>> but to onlookers who see his reasonably portrayed "naked"
> > theropods
> > in relatively close proximity to a
display that is teaching people about
> > an insulating
covering on small theropods, there is then ambiguity
There's NO ambiguity if it's well
*** But there is ambiguity when it's not, which is
the more common occurance.
> *** The way lay people will best be able to understand issues
> dinosaurs is if the information is
presented in a clear, concise and
> unambiguous way.
If you show them the true things for comparison, it's
> Exhibits like Dinotopia are not helping in this matter, they
> completely different
> purpose that being strictly
entertainment, which is what makes the comment
> in the
release about people gaining a greater understanding of dinosaurs
> fictional encounters with man, so erroneous.
Dinotopia is fantasy, it's a dream, and it's easy to
see it's a dream. There's a difference with showing dino-fantasy, poesy, and
going to the pictures to watch again this §#6*ù&&!! JP which is really
confusing for common people and show 'em erroneous things - sorry, I
definitively don't like JP.
*** Dinotopia is fantasy, but you know what, there
are a lot of impressionable young kids
who have a lot of interest in dinosaurs and will
"believe in" anything they're exposed to. . .
including Dinotopia, Santa Claus, the EverReady
Bunny. . .you name it. And there's nothing
wrong with indulging their fantasies ( it helps
foster great creative minds), but all the same
they are susceptable to drawing incorrect conclusions
based on the material they are
presented with and the context it is presented
in. Dinosaur exhibits and Dinotopia are both
valid and legitimate in their own ways, but still
require separation. I even vaguely remember
reading accounts regarding a small component of the
adult population that believe there are
places on earth where you can encounter dinosaurs in
the wild. I'm not referring to people
who are dillusional, cryptozoologists, or the like. .
. just misinformed everyday individuals who
didn't learn in school ( for whatever reason) that 65
mya we had a little bump in the night with
a big rock from outer space. No different than
the percentage of the population that still
believe dinosaurs and cavemen existed together.
Science and media access have gone a long
way to dispel popular myths, but the information
hasn't reached everyone yet, not by a long
> > > This is why I write my
How to Draw Dinosaurs articles for Prehistoric
> > Times.
OK, I don't have a PhD, I'm only an amateur
paleoartist for JUST one year or so, and this discussion made me ask
questions to myself, if I should go on with paleoart, and especially the
*** My opinion is that paleo art is still a noble
endeavor. We all want to know
what dinosaurs looked like and we're not likely to
see any of the extinct ones
any time soon. So, the nice part is that by using the
information available to
reconstruct the appearance of dinosaurs, many artists
(in spite of their individual
styles) are developing a sort
of "collective" image of what various species of
dinosaur probably looked like. As new
information is made available and
processed through artistic renderings the relative
inconsistencies are gradually
eliminated and the result is a roughly "reliable"
impression of what dinosaurs
may have looked like. Since our choices are
hypothetical imagery tempered
by artistic flare or no imagery at all, I elect
to go with some visual semblance
of the truth rather than a visual "void". A
dinosaur book without illustrations or
photos is like cake
without icing, you can choke it down but you better have
that glass of milk handy!
(My personal opinion, but I'm biased and proud of it!)
> > > >>Artwork that
includes dinosaurs within modern fiction stray much
> > afield, but don't do any favors in helping the public make
> > > between dinosaur art "extrapolated
from real fossil material" and
> > > art that
resembles the "real thing". In the end, the forum in which the
> artwork is displayed may make a big difference in how said art is
> > > by the masses and while I wish Jim every
success, I think the exhibit
> > would
> > > have better
served on display at an alternate venue.<<
> > I hope you don't mean that people
shouldn't include dinosaurs in their
> > > science fiction? I
doubt many of us would be here if we ever did.
Agreed, and I'm not afraid to explain little kids why
I don't draw _Velociraptor_ like in JP;see
BTW, the drawing published a while ago in Prehistoric
Time isn't totally correct, the hands are very difficult to draw and I just
begin now to draw dromie's hands quite accurate. I really admire your
reconstructions, dear Michael, and the same for Tracy, Luis, Mark, Todd, Dan,
and others I've forgotten, and I work hard to get a hi quality, as I did for
comic strip, and it's not that simple, but I think it's easy for an artist or
a scientist to make the difference between paleoart and fantasy and to explain
it to people and to lil'kids.
*** Thanks for the vote of confidence. I'm all
for continuing the discussions of
the differences between paleoart and fantasy art,
just interested in keeping the
explanations down to their simplist common
> > ***Not at all, some of the best fiction out there has a
> > component. My
> > ONLY concern is to draw
(no pun) a clear distinction between what is
> > considered
> fact and fiction, for those members of the populace who lack the
familiarity with the subject matter we have.<<
And that's also what I try to do.
It took me nearly 2 hours to explain my point of
view, but I needed to.
Back to work now.
*** I hear ya! I've just about spent more time on the
DML over the last
couple of days than I have on my
Always friendly (I think, at least) - Luc J.