Der Spiegel reports on the Massopondylus nesting site with the above illustration by Julius Csotonyi (click to embiggen). Cool that they include an artist credit, and cool to see a master delve into 3D – if he is indeed. The image sure looks like it, but I have no insider knowledge. I’m judging by the cover, so to speak. If anyone knows more about his technique, let us know in the comments!
On his site, the image is described as a “digital painting / photographic composite“. I’ll go out on a limb and -aside from some painted touch-ups (the egg membranes and such) – call this a 3D illustration with photographic elements used as textures, background elements – the solidity of the volumes, consistency of the details and the lighting all encourage me in making this assumption. Assuming this is the case (despite my father’s warning that to assume makes an ass out of you and me), it allows us an intriguing comparison of toolsets in the hand of a talented artist – as we did with Angie Rodrigues.
On to the analysis…
Julius is a master of dramatic skies and lighting. His mastery of palettes makes him one of the few who successfully integrates photographic material into his illustrations, and vice versa – and he does so to great dramatic effect.
I grabbed two portions that were similarly lit with the goal of comparing palette gradients as they extend into the distance. The first segment is a straight out histogram, which gives the tonal range of each sample. As you can see, very comparable – and certainly no tendency that could be held up against the possible reasons for deviation. A color analysis on a blurred version of this excerpt (to average out values) confirms: very comparable tones, nearly identical saturation.
For comparison, I searched for an illustration that likewise has two animals at comparable distances from the viewer and settled on a misfortunate Brachylophosaurus family.It’s also described as a digital painting, but – again assuming – I take it that this is a digital painting and not a 3D render. Again, I’m basing this guess on detail density, volumes, specular Fresnel effects, etc. Fortunately, the lighting situation – while different – is at least comparable.
This time, we have a more obvious distinction in tonal ranges. The closer sampling has a wider spread, with more darks. The lighter range is less, but still present. An averaged color sample reveals a clear difference in saturation. The closer sample has greater saturation, the further lacks. Which is in keeping with color theory. The farther a color recedes, the less poignant it will be, with a falloff particularly in reds.
I was moved to do this analysis because – from the palette – I never would have guessed that this came from his hand. I guess that’s classic researcher bias, but hey – I’m not a researcher. I admire that an artist of Julius’ caliber is expanding his toolset, and it certainly has a lot to offer. I look forward to seeing more work from him in this medium. I also hope he gets the punch into them that his other work has. (I’m also ready to eat my words if this isn’t a 3D toolset phenomena… so let me know if it isn’t.) But until then, I’ll stand by my assessment that the toolset – for whatever reasons – has definitely left its mark here, in good and not so good ways. My own experiences with 3D and with non-photorealistic rendering make this completely unsurprising.
What do you think? Like? Dislike?