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TYRANNOSAURS: Behind the Art with James Gurney

This workshop gives the viewer front row seats at the creation of two paintings for Scientific American, including one for the cover of the magazine. Illustrator James Gurney fully documents the steps he follows in reconstructing two recently discovered relatives of Tyrannosaurus rex. 

Working closely with the scientist who discovered the fossils, Gurney shows all the development stages, including thumbnail sketches, color comps, use of photos and maquettes, plein-air studies, and the final painting. The artist's voiceover explains both pragmatic methods and background thinking with a special emphasis on techniques for suggesting feather and foliage textures, and how to paint a believable reconstruction of a scene that is imagined based on scientific evidence.

Gurney shows how he sets up his palette, what materials he uses for texturing the illustration board, and the range of brushes he uses at each stage. The production is packed with useful information that will interest not only dinosaur artist, but anyone who paints landscapes or creatures of any kind. The coverage is very complete, and the edit is fast-paced enough to be worth watching again and again.

“Who needs a time machine to see life in the Mesozoic? Just let Jim paint it for you. Here is how True Magic is done. Now it is your turn to learn to make magic.”

—Michael K. Brett-Surman, PhD., co-editor of The Complete Dinosaur

TYRANNOSAUR. 40 minutes run time, downloadable 1080p HD mp4 file.

8 ratings


TYRANNOSAURS: Behind the Art with James Gurney

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