Lumpy the Dinosaur

I’d like you to meet Lumpy the Dinosaur.  He’s made of animation clay, a kind of clay that never gets hard.  His arms, legs, head, and tail can all be repositioned.  Lumpy posed for the three dinosaurs in the illustration for “Dinosaurs vs. Astronauts.”

I’ve been drawing dinosaurs since I was a little kid, but for this illustration I had to visualize them at angles I wasn’t used to.  Creating a 3D model of a dinosaur makes the job much easier.  It’s an extra step to help the final illustration look as realistic as possible.

My favorite artist, James Gurney, calls models like Lumpy “macquettes.”  Pretty much everything I know about illustration I learned from Mr. Gurney.  He wrote a book called Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist, which I use as a reference along with one of his other books, Color and Light.  He also has a blog called Gurney Journey, which I recommend for anyone interested in art, and a few years ago I was lucky enough to attend one of his seminars.  I learned more from him in a one-hour seminar than I did from years of regular art classes.

Click here to see the finished illustration for “Dinosaurs vs. Astronauts.”  You might enjoy reading the story too… it’s got dinosaurs fighting astronauts!  Click here to check out James Gurney’s blog.

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Sapiosaurus: the Lizard Who Thinks

Among all the planets in the universe, only a tiny fraction can support life.  Even fewer will develop intelligent life.  What a rare and lucky planet Earth must be to have done so twice.

Many of you have no doubt heard of Velociraptor and its great intelligence.  Paleontologists have discovered a species even more intelligent: the Troodon (pronounced TRUE-o-don).  Yet there are still many kinds of dinosaurs modern science doesn’t know.

In “Dinosaurs vs. Astronauts,” we meet one of these undiscovered species, a species smarter than Velociraptor or Troodon or any other creature of its era: the Sapiosaurus.  Sapiosaurs had intelligence equal to humans.  They no longer relied on instinct but cunning.  They no longer hunted in packs but lived as a tribe.  If they’d had the chance, they could have developed art and culture, politics, religion, and science, just as Homo sapiens have done.

When the dinosaurs went extinct, a few Sapiosaurs survived, rescued by mysterious machines in the sky.  And there is one big difference between the Sapiosaurs and the humans of today: after 65 million years, the Sapiosaurs are very hungry.  Click here to start reading “Dinosaurs vs. Astronauts.”

Writing Process: Drawing Characters

An important part of my writing process is getting a sense of what the characters in my stories look like.  So before I get too deep into the story, I draw all the major characters.  Every Tomorrow News Network story features Talie Tappler (you can find pictures of her all over this website), but each month we also meet some new people, the unfortunate people Talie is covering for the news.

This month’s story is called “Dinosaurs vs. Astronauts.”  The story is exactly what the title promises: a life and death struggle between dinosaurs and astronauts.  To get started, I drew some concept art in my little sketchbook.  In the pictures below, you can see all the astronauts and two of the featured dinosaurs.

That’s how I get started.  How about you, my fellow writers and other artistic folks?  What do you do to get your projects started?

P.S.: “Dinosaurs vs. Astronauts” was originally scheduled to come out Monday, July 23rd, but I’ve decided to postpone it a few days.  It will now come out on Wednesday, July 25 Friday, July 27 (I promise the date won’t change again).  With a story this awesome, it deserved a little extra time to make sure I get it right.