Finished! Coryphodons rumaging around the Eocene

Misbehaving Photoshop filters couldn’t stop me finishing! I finally finished it, and I am happy how it came out. It is large, made to be printed out at least 48 inches across, but the detail could hold up a lot larger…I have to print one myself to see how it looks on a format other than a computer screen. Otherwise if you want to see it in action, go to Western Washington University’s Environmental Studies building.
I shot screenshot timelapse video of the whole creation, including the modeling of the clay so hopefully I can get that video together soon. Until then, let me know what you think. Depicted are the creators of trackways found at the Racehorse Creek landslide that inhabited the low lying tropical estuary ~50 million years ago. There are prehistoric analogues of modern Herons, and Willets, and of course the group of Coryphodons- today we have nothing similar or even distantly related. They were fascinating creatures that had perhaps the smallest known brain to body ratio of any mammal. Do you think I created them in a believable rendering? As the artist, I chose all of the non-skeletal features such as hair, color, ears, snout shape, habitus, etc. Large responsibilities for someone who never saw them in real life!
Here are a couple wikipedia links of Coryphodons and the Eocene.

getting hairy

Shapes are bulging and sinking as I downplay areas not reached by that imaginary sun, and uplift hairs that glisten (oh so) tenderly in the Eocenic tropix. I still have many details to add, but this step is a big one when muscles and posture really develop. I absolutely loved doing neon orange on the ears to accentuate their thinness and glowthru. I wrote this song to go with the video…

Speed painting of furry Cory basebodies


Against my conventional wisdom, I have proceeded to paint mouths and eyes before the base detail! What is the world coming to? I always paint the eyes last when I work, (completing an eye early on in a composition is a crutch, right?) so we will see how it goes. I am still deciding on the coloration and hair details. Stay tuned for alterations ‘n’ iterations in composition….
btw I capture an image each 3 seconds

Modeling Coryphodons with take’n’bake clay

I thought that to get the light and anatomy best on a new paleo-reconstruction of the Eocene, I should start something I have been meaning to do since forever and ever…sculpting!  Yes, I could get by without it, but why?  Sculpting is so much fun!  I will use better tools and firmer clay next time, but as a first attempt, it went fine.

This semi-aquatic creature is not even a close ancestor of hippos and stands alone in earth history as having one of the smallest brain to body ratios of any mammal: ~90 gram brain vs. a 500 kg body!  It mired in swamps using its big teeth to drudge up aquatic plants…perhaps an uncomplicated task?

I used a wooden egg from a hobby store and wire and threaded inserts to reinforce it…the clay wanted to droop off the egg a bit.  I also screwed it to a tripod swivel base that I bolted to my easel and could manipulate in all directions at will.  I made a 3 wire neck that allows the head to be turned too.  It will be such a luxury to use as a reference for my shadows and highlights…here is a photo: