Thursday, November 10, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 186

Like I said yesterday, this week is going to be a theme week.  7 drawings based around a common theme.  And that theme is...  Raptor Week!

So anyone who has been following my blog for any length of time will be aware that I have quite a fondness for dinosaurs.  (It's more than a fondness, really.  It's kind of a lifelong obsession.)  I love to draw them.  However, I recently discovered that I do not always draw them particularly accurately with the latest research.  After stumbling upon some wonderful paleoblogs and particularly blogs about paleoart, I find I've become quite enamored with it.  Paleoart is about balancing science and art: making something beautiful while still upholding rigorous science.  Using the evidence we have today to reconstruct a creature long dead as well as we can.

There's a certain poetry in this to me.  Accuracy sounds boring to some, maybe, but it feels to me like a way of honoring the past.  So many species once lived on this planet that are gone now, and the least we can do is try and figure out what they were like when they were around.  I am going to try and be a bit more accurate in my dinosaur drawings from here on out.  Of course, I will not go to the extremes that a professional paleoartist would, and I will not claim that my drawings are completely accurate.  I don't really have time to do a ton of research, though I will try and do enough to pass and hopefully not make too many mistakes.

So, why Raptors?  I like to draw dinosaurs on this blog that the average person doesn't really know.  I like to try to steer clear of animals like Tyrannosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, etc. in favor of lesser known things.  While many raptors, or dromaeosaurs, are quite well known, I would argue that few people have seen them portrayed even close to accurately.

When you think of a raptor, you probably think of something like the "raptors" in Jurassic Park.  While I love that movie, this image is far from correct.  To show just how off this portrayal is, I have decided to do my first drawing for this week of a Velociraptor mongoliensis, probably the most famous dromaeosaur of them all. 

Velociraptor was a smallish dromeosaur that lived in the deserts of Mongolia about 72 million years ago.  Unlike popular depictions, it likely had advanced feathers covering its body and certainly had wings (though it was flightless.)  It also was quite a bit shorter than seen in Jurassic Park, only reaching up to about knee-height on a person.  Finally, the position of the hands are important to note.  Velociraptor (like all therapod dinosaurs) could not bend its wrists in such a way as to produce the "bunny hands" usually seen in movies.  They were held to the sides, with palms facing inwards.

My Velociraptor isn't quite perfect I'm afraid.  It's tail is quite a bit too short for one thing.  I fear I foreshortened it a bit too much.  It is supposed to be going back from the plane of the page, but it just looks short.  Oh well.  I chose to model it after the Secretary Bird, which is a desert bird alive today.  I guessed that because the secretary bird and Velociraptor share similar ecological niches, it would be a nice model.  While the Secretary Bird is not flightless, I liked the way it looked enough and figured it was an okay guess for the type of feathering on Velociraptor.

Finally, for those who are curious as to how I do these drawings I do, I scanned this doodle at various points in the process.

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