Flat dinosaurs

I have a lot of gripes about dinosaur art. I’ve mused about dinosaurs here, but I don’t think I’ve ever griped about it much on this blog. Let’s rectify that!

I subscribe to one of the dinosaur clubs on DA, and they update all the time. So I glance over a lot of dinosaur art. (Everybody draws raptors and t-rexes.) But one thing I notice a lot, especially in official art for publication, is the flatness of the animals. You can click to enlarge these.


Not flat enough for you?

How about …


Now, I understand that these may be stylistic choices on the part of the artist, and I couldn’t find the picture I wanted, of the really, really flat compsognathus. But I notice flat dinosaurs are a trend that pervades the paleoart sector.

But I didn’t understand it until I was reading this article, about what they found when they started scanning a mummified hadrosaur:

“The fossilized duckbilled hadrosaur is so well preserved that scientists have been able to calculate its muscle mass and learn that it was more muscular than thought, probably giving it the ability to outrun predators such as Tyrannosaurus rex.

The study is not yet complete, but scientists have concluded that hadrosaurs were bigger — 3½ tons and up to 40 feet long — and stronger than had been known, were quick and flexible and had skin with scales that may have been striped.”

Up until this dino was found, they thought that hadrosaurs moved slowly and couldn’t outrun predators. Nobody could figure out how duckbills managed to be so prolific anyway.

Oh, wait! You mean dinosaurs weren’t flat? You mean they had muscles or something? Perish the thought! We’ve been drawing them flat for years! It couldn’t be that the skeleton was mashed flat under a billion tons of rock! It’s like reconstructing a flat cat from highway roadkill.

In real life, animals tend toward roundness. I always watched my chickens and chortled about how baby chicks are egg-shaped, and as adults, they’re still egg-shaped. Nobody draws extinct birds with the egg-shape. They draw them long and snakey, like the lizards they supposedly evolved from. Oh wait! You mean ‘feathered dinosaurs’ have always had feathers and nobody has found any transitional form? Like, maybe they’re just BIRDS?

That’s not even a creationist site. That’s a straight-up evolution-based scientist saying those things. It’s very interesting.

So yes. People need to beef out their dinosaurs in their art. Let ’em have muscles, like elephants and rhinos have today.

Spooky face

What is it about a face lit from below that’s supposed to be so spooky? And yet, it kind of is. Also, it does really interesting things to the planes of the human face.

Afraid I don’t have any interesting writing-related thoughts for tonight. I’m currently rewriting the climax of that story I just finished. The story was a world-tour of this shattered world, and yet the climax took place in one room. Letdown much? The climax should involve the interesting bits of the world we just toured!

I rewrite or heavily refine every climax I write, so this is nothing new. The climax is the payoff to the reader for slogging through my prose, so if I don’t blow up the world, the reader is disappointed, you know?

Landscape and color flavors

It’s kind of silly to be practicing a landscape in black and white, but to be thinking about color.

I made a curry chicken dish tonight, and I was thinking about how if yellow was a flavor, it would taste like curry.

It got me thinking. When I think of how all the colors taste, I automatically think of those colored fruit snacks I ingested in mass quantities as a kid. Red is cherry, yellow is lemon, and so on.

So I started trying to reassign flavors to colors.

Red is tomato sauce.

Yellow is curry, as mentioned above.

Green is spinach or lettuce.

Blue is swimming pool water. It makes me chuckle, but I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything that was truly blue before. Even blueberries are purplish.

Blue-Violet is plums.

Magenta is red onions.

Do colors taste like fruit snacks to you? If not, what do they taste like?

Formative books?

Trying to get my art mojo back on, so here’s a few pumpkins, sketched in digital pencil from life, as I have a couple of small ones sitting on my desk.

Today on Sarah Sawyer’s writing blog, she had a post about the five foundational books for all Christian fantasy writers. You can read her list there.

It got me thinking about what books were the most formative for me, as a writer. The books I read in my tender years stand out the most, probably because I read them over and over through the years. But they’re not fantasy. I didn’t dabble much in fantasy just because I didn’t think much about it. I obsessed over wolves and horses, like any other girl.

In no particular order, the books that I think have impacted my writing style the most:

The Cooper Family Adventure series, by Frank Peretti. He taught me about how to build a story setting, like setting up blocks. And he taught me how to smash it all in a spectacular, entertaining climax. And he gave me night terrors for years.

The Melendy books by Elizabeth Enright (The Saturdays, the Four Story Mistake, etc.) Her characters and crystal-clear prose has stuck with me for years. You know how most people talk about Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimbly with nostalgic fondness? I’m that way about Randy, Rush, Mona and Oliver.

My Friend Flicka, by Mary O’Hara. Her prose went beyond purple to absolute poetry. It was years before I understood Ken from an adult’s perspective, and realized that he did have a serious psychological problem going on. As a kid, I sympathized with his daydreams, and I mourned with him as he was forced to violently grow out of it through his suffering with Flicka, his horse.

White Fang, by Jack London. This and Call of the Wild taught me how to write a great animal fight. I read so many wolf books, by Walt Morey, Jim Kjelegaard and others, that I thought ripping out a jugular was a reasonable way to kill someone, and never batted an eye at gore. It’s taken me years to get re-sensitized to violence.

The Princess and the Goblin, by George MacDonald. One of those beautiful stories that I had to read over and over. It’s like an expanded fairytale, and there’s so much weird symbolism that I kept going back to puzzle over it. Like her grandmother’s lamp that she can make shine so bright that it overwhelms the walls around it and hangs like a globe in the sky.

Notice that I didn’t put in Lord of the Rings or Narnia. Everybody lists those. And you know, I liked those, but they didn’t impact my psyche as deeply as the above-listed books. I think books like Swiss Family Robinson and Bambi struck me deeper, as a writer.

I think that’s one reason I’m attracted to modern fantasy now. I grew up with my imagination running rampant on Earth, seeing the drama and magic of real life and the animal kingdom. So my fantasy reflects that.

Do you find that what you write has been impacted by what you read? What are your top five?

Gone writing

I need to make a “Gone writin'” sign, like a “Gone fishin'” sign.

That’s where I’ve been. I don’t figure anybody’s much interested in reading bits of story out of context, no matter how much fun I had writing them, so I just haven’t updated the blog much. Once the story’s done, I’ll switch over to art mode and draw some stuff.

I’m looking to finish the story tonight, so I might actually plug in my tablet. I got a new compy, my first compy in about ten years! I might be able to work at a resolution higher than 200 ppi! Painter might not crash on me when I use the Impasto setting! Gasp!

Also, I have to hunt down the driver for my tablet. Last time I looked, Wacom had a library of all their tablet drivers, so hopefully it won’t be too difficult.

Bovine iguanodons

Over on orangecountydinosaur.com, I was digging around, looking for information on hadrosaurs (duckbills). There isn’t really a lot of information about hadrosaurs in general, for all they’re so well known.

Anyway, in one of the articles on that page, he compares the hadrosaurs, especially the iguanodon, to the skull of a horse. They’re remarkably similar.

So I tried drawing an iguanodon with external ears.

First: no ears.

Second: ears.

It changes the whole way they look, doesn’t it? They turn into this funny-looking kangaroo-cow thing.

Yet nobody EVER draws external ears on ANY kind of dinosaur, even though there’s no way to know if they had them or not. Even the dinos that resemble modern grazers, like horses.

I’m SO tempted to color this and see if people freak out. XD

Jake’s awesome shot

A few story paragraphs, and the sucky storyboard for it I did to kind of conceptualize it.

One of the men barked a command that was drowned out in the drone of wings, and one of the creatures swooped down, grabbed Jake in its long, spindly legs, and took off as if he weighed nothing.

“Jake!” Revi screamed, grabbing at one of his legs and missing. He looked down at her in shock as he rose in the air.

Revi’s ghostblade vibrated in her hand.

“No!” she yelled, spinning in place. A door had opened in the concrete nearby, and Ghost leaped out of it, wearing a snarl.

Revi raised her blade and strode forward to meet him, eager to take out her frustration on something, but Jake beat her to the punch. Fifty feet in the air, he aimed his Desert Eagle with expert precision and planted a burst of blue fire-magic in Ghost’s leg.