Monday, October 06, 2008

Minmi and Thoughts on Palaeoart

I recieved an email from Craig at The Tyrannosaur Chronicles wondering if I could provide a little art for an upcoming post about Australian ankylosaurs. He was looking for a life-reconstruction of Minmi, the small dinosaur from Down Under.

Great, I thought and I asked him for money. He laughed in my face (monitor?) and told me I'd get the traffic from his site as "commission." Ha.

Have you ever visited the Tyrannosaur Chronicles?!? It's about a puppet dinosaur! But it's also great! An exciting and hilarious fictional adventure that stars a new theropod hero for our times! Of course I'd do it. What are friends for?

You can learn about Minmi, the cute Australian creature here.

So here it is, a reconstruction of Minmi paravertebra, done in watercolor and pen - step by step:
The pencil sketch

The finalized pose, outlined in ink.

The base watercolours and ink detail applied.

The Final Result:

Minmi paravertebra in Sunshine by Peter Bond

Thoughts on Palaeoart:

Artists on blogs such as the Flying Trilobite, Raptor's Nest, and Druantia Art produce wonderful work everyday. But how much palaeoart is needed in the world? Is there ever enough? I don't think so, but I am confused.

So I looked. Below is a selection of other artist's reproductions of Minmi I found using Google Image Search:
Whoops! This is Minmi, the Japanese hip-hop singer!

Not to be confused with our cute little ankylosaur:

As you can see, there is a huge variety in Minmi's shape, musculature, armour, spikes, and colour. So much so that each picture looks like a different animal! This is strange as about 95% of the skeleton has been found. Some artists chose to represent Minmi more like a stegosaur while others chose an ankylosaur-like style. I chose more of a nodosaur-like shape for my painting. But the question is: which one is correct?

None of them, ... or all of them. The point is we don't know and it's almost impossible to "know" what a prehistoric creature looks like. Also, as more and more material is unearthed and new discoveries come to light, palaeoart evolves. Does this accounts for the variation abong the Minmi reproductions? Or is it just artistic license? Do artists need to follow the scientific literature?

"Palaeoart links Scientists to the Public." Thoughts?

Cheers! These thoughts on palaeoart are mostly question, but maybe you have some answers.
So long, and one more Min-mi for the road!


Glendon Mellow said...

As soon as I got to your first drawing of Minmi, I got really excited.

Fantastic drawing, Bond! The final execution is pretty sweet too. This is one of my favourites of your pieces.

I would guess -and I may certainly be wrong- that perhaps most or all of the artists' renderings are accurate, as there would have been some individual variation in the species.

Glendon Mellow said...

Oh, one small correction.

I only *wish* I produced art every day! Almost on my mind, fingers always itching for a pencil.

Peter Bond said...

Thanks a lot for the cudos on the Minmi, Glendon! I'm still playing around with light and shading and photoshop. I've still got a long way to go!

I'll bet your sketchbooks are amazing! Just upload a page from them if you ever want "Artwork Dalies!"

Anonymous said...

The entire time I was looking at the cool art (great drawing by the way!) my little inner voice kept saying "mini me, mini me".
When I got to the bottom of the post,it just cracked me up!

Anonymous said...

You are Awesome at drawing. I love the Tyrannosur Chronicles.