Creodonts of the Chuckanuts…as told by a Tapir Toddler

I am finished with my paleo painting!  It was quite the diabolical time sink, but I am quite pleased with how it came out.  I have painted many discrete subjects over the years, but creating a fully rendered environment in and around a given creature is a full-on leap in complexity and dimensions.  Gotta “cut your teeth” on a project of this magnitude at some point…might as well be when you should be packing to leave for Sulawesi and have no time anyway.

I worked on this digital painting in ways that I never could on a traditional (i.e. gouache or acrylic) painting.  For example, I painted all the characters first, and created the background around them.  What are perhaps my favorite benefits of pushing pixels on a monitor- rather than traditional art- are the endless ways to manipulate specific layers.  One has the ability to work on a background behind the foreground, play with the nuances of opacity (so awesome), and pick the perfect color immediately.  But perhaps most valuable of all is being able to experiment in a direction for a time, to realize it isn’t going how I want, so I can delete what I did or backtrack and continue in another direction.  These 4 aspects are invaluable.

What I lose in doing a digital piece are the tiny little accidents of color and form that happen in traditional painting.   And perhaps better posture?  I became a hunched vulture laboring over my wacom tablet.  Click these words to check out another painting I did of a: Diatryma in the Chuckanuts This was entirely acrylic paint so you can contrast these two pieces.  What do you prefer about each?

I tried very hard to turn the whole process into a video, but sadly it wasn’t to be:  I was unable to find the right automated screenshot recording software (anyone know what I can use?).   While I was squandering my time researching software instead of painting, the videos I had used in the beginning were really poor resolution and I gave up.  But I had the idea to make each flattened layer a different frame of a time lapse video, so stacking all them together will be an upcoming project.

I loved thinking about this incredible time to be on the planet.  Washington in the tropics teeming with tapirs, creodonts, and giant flightless birds- wickedly sweet!  The creatures that evolved to fill the Cenozoic vacuum left by demise of the dinosaurs are endless daydream fodder for me.  If anyone knows anyone with a time travel device, we need to talk.

Please let me know what you think!   Enjoy!

14 thoughts on “Creodonts of the Chuckanuts…as told by a Tapir Toddler

  1. Incredible! Stupendous! What a colossal effort…and it absolutely paid off. I am continually amazed by your talent and attention to detail. A few of my favorite aspects of this illustration: The creative perspective with the one creodont in the foreground and the light dust that really captures the action in the scene. Great job!
    I’m your number one fan!

  2. Marlin
    Awesome portrayal/depiction of what our environs were like how many million years ago?! Now discover Whatcom “man” and you will be on the front page although your current works are first class and deserve national recognition!
    Thinking of a Jurassic coleopteran project to rival Spielberg!

  3. Dude! Well done! I can just picture the grade school version of myself getting in trouble in class for flipping to all the sweet pictures like this and not doing any of the actual “learning.” (That’s a sign you’re doing great work 🙂

    Not sure about any automated screen capture software … I’ve used Snapz Pro for a lot of things – maybe it has an automated feature?

    Great job Marlin!

  4. Really a Great Work, Marlin. I can’t imagine what that mother was thinking when she looked around at the vicious prey. I can actually feel her tachycardia….and poor baby! I don’t need a time machine to take me there – you transported us to the edge of the circle!!! Now, time to straighten your back, square those shoulders and get ready for a few months on another hunched over adventure – bicycling in SE Asia. GAP – WOW!

  5. thanks maureen! I wanna know what tachycardia is and if I suffer from it? It was cool how much fear it added to add a little white strip of eyeball to the front of her right eye..

  6. well, I think if we could have ridden the Diatrymas and shot green ferny spears through tapirs from a distance, we’d have been a contender…
    mind you we would have been about 14 inches tall and scratching giant lice all day

  7. thanks Andy!
    The thought of disrupting the space time continuum and getting you in trouble 10 years ago is awesome.
    Keep in mind that I am on a PC, and suffer from it. I will check out the Snapz Pro. Even if there was a simple hotkey screenshot function that would then save the files somewhere that I didn’t have to name each time, that would be sweet. I think the layers thing will be something cool I haven’t seen ever…I will let you know when I get it running, but don’t hold your breath!

  8. I think this should have taken place 54 million years ago, happening maybe 3 million times every 18,000 years. That is on the conservative side.
    Who is Whatcom man and is he in the chuckanuts? He’d be mistaken for an opossum and couldn’t have been larger than a foot, if he was here amongst these beasts. Would have gone extinct immediately.

  9. Truly Epic! Really great animal postures and fur textures. I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to talk to you these past few weeks to hear how it was going and discuss the joys of PSD. I’ve been stretched thin… but I can’t wait to hang out (when you’re back from your trip?), even if it means driving across the mountains (better than across the country) :-).

  10. What a privilege to see the final product as I was able to observe you as you worked. You not only painted the credonts of the chuckanuts, but managed to share the chestnuts (roasting on an open fire) of the “Chuck”anut family here at home. Your research and implementation of that research into a stellar body of work is awe-inspiring.