Thursday, 24 April 2014

As I thought, it looks better with a dragon chick inside it

Here's the egg from the last post now that it has a chick in it.  I know it's a little late for Easter, but I was visiting my parents and didn't get an opportunity to upload the post.

Monday, 21 April 2014

The finished Easter egg

Here's the Easter egg from the last post, all finished.  To get it looking like this, I painted it, and then I covered it with a couple of layers of toilet paper covered in polyurethane.  This is what I did with the dragon membranes I made a while ago, and it makes the paper semi-transparent.

I find when I use this technique the key is to use a lot of polyurethane.  It works best if you really layer the stuff on there.

Now, I know I titled this post "the finished Easter egg", but I think it will look a lot better if I put a chick inside it.  Maybe a dragon chick.  I'll show you that next time.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

An Easter project

Since Easter is coming up, I thought an egg-related project seemed appropriate.  I have some good sized hen's eggs too, so I got to work on one of them last night.

I've glued tissue paper to the inside and outside of the shell, and added some veins made from twisted paper.  Covering the shell in tissue paper strengthens the shell, but it also gives a nice leathery effect.  Bird eggs have hard shells, but reptiles often lay eggs with flexible, leathery shells, and it's this kind of look that I want to play around with.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Introducing Dan Baines' DIY mummified fairy kit

I suspect people who read my blog may well be interested in this project, so I'm writing a post about it.

The Derbyshire Mummified Fairy Kit and DVD Workshop is the brainchild of Dan Baines, the artist who created the original Derbyshire fairy.  Dan made the fairy as an April Fool's prank in 2007, and it has since become one of the greatest hoaxes of the internet age.  There are people out there who still believe it was real.

The Fairy hits the news!
Image from the project's Kickstarter page.

People with a different type of mind, like myself, have been speculating ever since about exactly how Dan made the fairy.  In the DVD Workshop Dan will finally share some of his artistic secrets, while the kit will contain all the supplies needed to make your own mummified fairy.  I cannot wait to get my sticky mitts on this thing.

The project is funded through Kickstarter and it has already exceeded its funding goal.  The extra money will be used to realize stretch goals - extra fun stuff over and above the initial scope of the project.  Backing the project through Kickstarter works out cheaper than the kit's anticipated retail value, so if you'd like to get a kit backing the project is probably the way to go.

Stretch goals

Production is scheduled to be completed by August, and then the kits will be for sale at Pyewackett and Pecke, Dan's exciting new online store dedicated to strange arts and antiquities.  There are some really cool things in that store, so do head on over there and take a look.  

As a side note, I think "Pyewackett and Pecke" is possibly the coolest name for an odditorium I've ever encountered.  It sounds like the names of a witch's familiars, and what do you know?  Further research confirms that the names come straight out of Matthew Hopkins' witchfinding pamphlet The Discovery of Witches.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Look at my trophy head!

After a disgraceful amount of procrastinating and general laziness, I finally have the trophy head painted, mounted, and hanging on the wall.

I have yet to find a good source of wall plaques for mounting taxidermy, so I cheated and used a bread board.  I think it works okay.

In the end I spent several hours fiddling with the colour inside the mouth, but I'm pleased I took the time and I'm happy with the result.  It has a nice, organic feel and it works well with the outside of the face because I've used the same base colour.  Yes, it needs to look like the inside of a mouth, but it also needs to blend into the rest of the skin around the edges of the mouth.  

I'm also pleased with the skin colour.  Now that I've lacquered the head those bright blue-green streaks have come up nicely, and they look good with the white markings.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The trophy head mouth

Here it is in all its repainted glory.

The original paint job looked okay in photos with the flash on, but in person it really didn't look that great.  I've reworked the colours, and I'm much happier with them now.  Here's a close up, including a good look down the throat with its pharyngeal teeth and papillae.  All it needs now is a coat of gloss varnish for that all-important wet look.

Friday, 28 March 2014

What's better than All Yesterdays? More All Yesterdays, of course.

When I reviewed All Yesterdays last year I loved it, but felt I could use a second helping.  Well, guess what?  There's a second course available in the form of an equally wonderful sequel: All Your Yesterdays.  Truly, I am in speculative biology heaven right now.

All Your Yesterdays is a crowdsourced publication.  The authors of All Yesterdays invited submissions of speculative palaeoart from anyone who wanted to contribute, and C.M. Kosemen collated them into an ebook.  The results are truly excellent.

This painting by Brian Engh is one of my favourite pictures from All Your Yesterdays.  It depicts two young sauropods (diamantinasaurus) that have wandered into a cave looking for minerals to supplement their diet.  Of course, there's no evidence sauropods really did this, but it's not entirely outside the realm of possibility and it makes for a great picture.

Raven Amos' Ichthyovenator is another of my favourites.  I love the use of colour and line in this picture.

The book's cover features this beautiful painting of two baby troodonts by Alvaro Rozalen.  Troodonts were intelligent dinosaurs, and the smarter theropods probably took care of their young much as birds do today, so Rozalen has pictured these cute little guys sitting in a nest waiting for their parents to bring them some food.

One reason I love this book so much is that it goes against the trend of conservatism so common in palaeoart.  Obviously I realise that when artists create depictions of extinct animals they're usually trying to convey as realistic a picture as possible, and therefore they need to avoid being too fanciful.  Good scientific illustrations, after all, are well researched and conform to what we know about the animals' anatomy, appearance, and habitat.  But not all art needs to be realistic.  Personally, I like art that celebrates the weird and wonderful.

Another thing about this book that impresses me is the incredible generosity of the artists who contributed.  They weren't paid, they donated their work because they thought the project is fun.  All Your Yesterdays is sold here using a PayPal honesty box; you pay what you can afford.  As such, it's a good example of how the internet has enriched our lives.  Ten years ago neither you nor I would have got the opportunity to see these beautiful artworks.  Mainstream publishing houses are reluctant to pick up projects like this, which might be termed "niche market" books and don't generate large profits for the company.  Now that it's possible to make content available on the internet, artists can get their work out there without having to convince some corporate executive that it will look okay on the balance sheet.

If I could, I would buy a paper copy of All Your Yesterdays.  It's only available as an ebook, and the ebook format doesn't do the pictures justice.  But that's really the only criticism I have of the book, and it's certainly worth buying the ebook edition.  Thank you so much to everybody who helped to make All Your Yesterdays happen!  You've done a fantastic job.