LIVE BLOGGING: Post #8: Deepening the forest

Posted by Nima On Saturday, October 31, 2009 5 comments


Here's the latest update! More Omeisaurus in the background and more conifers to fill out the forest. There's at least three types of them here...perhaps four, if you can spot 'em.

The whole piece is slowly coming into view!

LIVE BLOGGING: Post #7: Herd in the background

Posted by Nima On Monday, October 26, 2009 14 comments


Here is the newest update!

More Omeisaurus in the distance with some new trees. I also shortened the tail of the rearing one in the foreground, as it was previously too long. The stream on the left is also more clear.

LIVE BLOGGING: Post # 6: rearing Omeisaurus

Posted by Nima On Friday, October 23, 2009 23 comments


Ok, here's the most recent update:

I added two more Omeisaurus, one of which is rearing to eat higher branches.
I think I got the neck a bit TOO thin on that one, but I'll iron it out on the next update.
Also the dynamics of this graceful creature as it walked must have been truly marvelous, considering that most sauropods are usually depicted (incorrectly) as super-obese, ponderous hulks just barely plodding along at snail pace. This guy was the sports car model, while titanosaurs were the bulky "SUVs" of sauropod-dom. Also if you look closely notice the big thumb claws. There were a lot of sauropods that had them, but Omeisaurus and its kin had possibly the most oversized ones ever known. I can only guess that this was a very useful active defense for a creature that was not quite massive enough to rely on size alone as a deterrent for the packs of big predators of the day.

Also I added more trees and more background to the Shunosaurus area, with one on the hills just behind. It's shaping up very well so far, IMO. The most tedious part will be the trees.

LIVE BLOGGING: Post #5: fern-covered hills

Posted by Nima On Tuesday, October 20, 2009 8 comments


Here is the next installment of my live blog on the sauropods of Dashanpu.

Basically I more or less completed the outlines of the whole Shunosaurus herd and drew some ferns and other foliage on the rolling hills behind them. The cool thing about using heavy "legal" texture paper is that is allows much better shading and "fog" techniques. These will be easier to spot in the final version (I'm never going back to cheap untextured copy paper again). I also corrected some minor details in the Omeisaurus (and I plan to add more of them). The rocks in the lake also got a facelift.

As for Marica's question on this being a miniature: it's an 8.5 x 11" sheet like most of my pieces here... but it's more of a "miniature" because I drew the dinosaurs from a far distance so they look small. On the paper, those Shunosaurus are barely bigger than a postage stamp! Usually I would go for more of a "close-up shot" but this time I wanted to go panoramic and capture the massive scale of the habitat these sauropods lived in. Sometimes it's about the overall scene just as much as the animals in it. Those super-tall tree trunks will be conifers soon.

Til next time ;)

LIVE BLOGGING: Post #4: Shunosaurus and rocks

Posted by Nima On Monday, October 19, 2009 7 comments


Here's the next installment in our live sauropod blog of the Dashanpu quarry fauna scene.

I drew more Shunosaurus on the right (it's starting to get a bit crowded there, don't ya think?) and also some unusual large rocks and a tree fern behind them. That whole background region is going to be covered in conifers and ferns with a warm misty glow radiating through it - at least that's the effect I'm going for.

I like it so far but it's nowhere near done so I will continue blogging tomorrow and possibly the rest of the week. This is a miniature, so I am confident that it will be done or close to done in less than a week. Keep checking in for more progress pics.

LIVE BLOGGING: Post #3: outlines

Posted by Nima On Sunday, October 18, 2009 4 comments


Done with the tree, and now the outlines of two Omeisaurus and a little Shunosaurus are more or less done. Next it will be the trees in the background and several more dinosaurs of both types.

As you can see, Omeisaurus had crazy long necks. And they were unbelievably thin near the head-neck joint.


Here's the beginnings of it. An araucaria sp. conifer. Dinosaurs coming soon! I'm going to have an Omeisaurus munching on it.


Ok here's my first live blog post. Basically we have a scene from the Callovian epoch at the end of the Middle Jurassic in China.

We've got a forest of araucaria conifers and some cycads and ferns near a lake. And some Shunosaurus and Omeisaurus.

Well, not YET, but here's the basic sketch of the design.

Yeah, it kinda sucks - for now.

This is just the preliminary sketch, it's not even on good paper. My actual drawing (which I will begin shortly) will be much better. I often do these rough sketches before attempting the final precise Paleo King-quality image, so I don't have to make radical changes and do too much erasing.

Check back in soon!

Well, it's the big day, dino fans! Today at 3:00 pm I will do a live blogging event for drawing sauropods.

And I have made my final decision.... it's going to actually feature TWO sauropod species. Shunosaurus lii and "Omeisaurus" tianfuensis. So thanks to DerKompsognathus and EmperorDinobot of DeviantART for their suggestions.

If you're wondering why I chose these two, it's actually pretty simple. Both suggestions are incredibly amazing animals, and they're not illustrated very often (and good illustrations of them appear even less often... aside from Greg Paul, I don't know of a single artist who even comes close to doing these majestic creatures justice). Also both are Chinese sauropods, which are by all accounts extremely fascinating and exotic animals by North American sauropod standards. And finally, they are the only two suggestions I received that lived at EXACTLY the same place and time! There were so many other good ideas people gave me, and I had a hard time choosing... So I decided to stick two species in the same picture, give two paleo-fans equal credit, and these two were the perfect choice.

Shunosaurus was either a cetiosaurid or a primitive "Euhelopodid" (yes I still casually use the old family classification - which may yet prove to have some validity...). It was once thought to be a missing link between the two families, though the fact that it's the same age as Omeisaurus pretty much rules this out. Shunosaurus is actually one of the best-known sauropods. It was the compact version, at only 33 feet long, with a large body but a much shorter neck than many other Chinese sauropods. It was almost certainly a very social animal, with the remains of an entire herd being found in the Dashanpu quarry. Not surprisingly, the entire skeleton is known, including its most peculiar feature - a spiked tail club, something extremely rare in sauropods. It was a low-level browser with large thumb claws, an upturned top jaw typical of cetiosaurs, and large strong teeth.

"Omeisaurus" tianfuensis also lived the the Dashanpu area, and likely interacted with Shunosaurus. Though by having a much longer neck (indeed, freakishly long!) it probably did not compete with Shunosaurus for food. O. tianfuensis is not the "true" Omeisaurus - it's a totally different animal from the type species O. junghsiensis. However, O. tianfuensis is the most complete of all the species that have been thrown together in the "Omeisaurus" wastebasket, and as a result also the most popular. So whatever it really is, I will also stick my foot in the evil taxonomic tar, and call this real-life dragon Omeisaurus for the time being.

...Incidentally, the insanely long neck of Omeisaurus (or that of its even more long-necked relative Mamenchisaurus) may well be the original inspiration for the Chinese dragons of legend... it is known that such fossils have been dug up and labeled "dragon bones" for thousands of years. The serpentine shape of the dragon may be based on only a neck or spinal column having once been found centuries ago, lacking the ribs and legs...

At about 60 feet from snout to tail tip, Omeisaurus was light for its length, weighing only 8 to 10 tons. This makes more sense when you realize that its body was actually not much bigger than a large elephant, and most of its length was neck and tail. The tail is strongly arched at the base, and also appears to have possessed a club, though it was smooth and not spiked as in Shunosaurus. Some experts think the club actually was from Shunosaurus (which was found in the same quarry) and got assigned to the wrong skeleton. Though I disagree...
Like Shunosaurus, Omeisaurus also had huge, and likely prehensile, thumb claws. Considering its lightness, it probably needed them as a very dangerous active defense against predators like Sinraptor and Yangchuanosaurus. Omeisaurus didn't scratch at predators - it impaled them.

Check back at 3:00 for Live Blogging! See you then.

Time to bust out your SAUROPODS!!!

Posted by Nima On Monday, October 12, 2009 3 comments

In case you haven't already heard...

The ArtEvolved Sauropod gallery is opening in two weeks, and I've gotten some great suggestions for new sauropod illustrations so far!

Here's what I've heard from my DeviantArt colleagues:

Omeisaurus (credit: DerKompsognathus)
Brachytrachelopan or other Dicraeosaurids (credit: Lycaenops)
Patagosaurus or Shunosaurus (credit: EmperorDinobot)
Rebbachisaurus (credit: ztwarmstrong)

Of course you don't have to be a member of DeviantArt to give me your sauropod suggestions. Just post them right here! I COULD simply draw my favorites, but I want to spice things up a bit and let all you dino-fans have a chance to choose what gets the Paleo King treatment next... it could be a classic favorite like Diplodocus, a strange new form like Nigersaurus, a mysterious supergiant like Paralititan or Andesaurus, or something entirely different!

There's still time to submit to the ArtEvolved gallery, OR give me a suggestion of what sauropod dinosaur you want to see drawn, and I will draw the best suggestion (or maybe two or three) and give you credit in the final submission, and on all three of my sites. Yep, some free fame courtesy of the Paleo King himself! And who knows, you might even win a surprise prize.

So send me your sauropod ideas, the next dinosaur I draw could be YOURS!