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Stout, Ford & Booth; pushing the buttons

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Yesterday, I wrote about Brett booth’s comic-style theropods, and today I encountered a small wave of images that I find relevant. First off, Brett posted some true comic dinosaurs, the first time his two disciplines overlapped. Typical in comics work, Brett had little say in story (sentient Dromeosaurs survive in Cryobooths to attack humanity) or color (“they couldn’t pull off anything but green and brown”) and the load was heavy (22 pages on a tight schedule). Check his paleoart out in yesterday’s post.

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stout-a-z-blog Next, Michael Ryan (Paleoblog) reviews a new William Stout book and the look is quite ‘comic-bookish’. Graphic inking pushes out contours and surface details, while pigment washes fill out surface coloration. Shadows are also communicated via the inking, so these color layers are a very flat and saturated.

What’s interesting about William Stout is that he is a very skilled and knowledgeable artist who delves into the research material and masters numerous artistic techniques. He is also skillfully diverse and categorizes his work as belonging to genres such as fantasy, fine art, comics, prehistoric and concept work (or film design). Its revealing to see what categories the artist assigns his own work to.

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Below, two Glacialosaurus by Stout (not 100% sure about the first one) first in an oil painted mural style, then in comic style . Below those, a gull painted in yet a further watercolor style. The artist categorizes these as ‘prehistoric’, ‘prehistoric’ and ‘fine art’ respectively. Further dinosaurs can be found in the comics gallery – ie. Alien Worlds features a buxom-babe loving tyrannosaur.

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Lastly (for now), the German magazine Spiegel reviews the artist Walton Ford (here a gallery to click through). Here is a fine artist working in large format aquarells that demand a price tag of $40,000 and hang in renowned museums around the world. And still – as the Spiegel reports – “the artist has yet to truly make a mark on the international scene. Perhaps because he seems to be a Ford among artists and not a Ferrari. Certain critics find his oeuvre too illustrative ,recalling the style of the gifted ornithologist and artist John James Audubon”.
The painting above seemed particularly relevant – almost a counter-weight to the comic style dinosaurs above. Its called Loss of the Lisbon Rhinoceros, and is based on the iconic woodcut by Albrecht Durer, who made his version based on a sailor’s crude drawing . By in turn basing his anatomy on Durer’s, Ford highlights on the popularistic portrayal of natural subject matter that hasn’t even been experienced by the artist – a subtle, fantastic surrealism and very relevant in a world in which nature is most often experienced via television documentaries. The stylistic decision is there to push the right buttons, packaging social commentary in the scientific authority of a specific figurative portrayal. Its helpful here to be familiar with the artist’s more common outright humor, so here I add another of his works. In Le Jardin, the harmony alluded to in the title is little more than a momentary respite in a battle dictated by the natural order.

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What strikes me is the power of assumption that a stylistic means can create. The inked line and flat colors of a comic immediately calls up dramatized low-brow story; popular but not exactly credible.  A finely worked aquarell with skillful anatomy alludes to scientific correctness, but struggles for high-brow recognition from art critics, even after proving itself in museums and art collections. Crazy world.

There are 9 Comments to this article

Brett Booth says:
01/24/2010

Hi David,

Wow, I’m mentioned with William Stout, now I’m geeking;) But I must make one correction. I did draw a comic with dinosaurs years before EE. It was called Backlash and Taboo’s African Holiday. If you can believe it the dinosaurs were even worse. It was done in the late 90′s so I hadn’t really started researching them yet. Bad penciler, bad.

Nice blog, very fancy!

Best,

Brett

admin says:
01/24/2010

Thanks for the correction, and the compliment! I was thinking of expanding this to include Luis Rey (methinks he tries to tackle a bit too much sometimes) – so geek at that!

Brett Booth says:
01/25/2010

I would be interested in your take on Luis Rey. I did a blog post on his and Thomas Holtz’s book awhile ago:

http://demonpuppy.blogspot.com/2008/10/open-mouth-insert-gun.html

I wasn’t a fan. I only mention it because I was looking at the book yesterday (I actually ordered the Stout book this morning;))

I heard that Gregory Paul is doing a new book, I’ so all over that! I’ve been hoping he does a new PDW type book. Hopefully this will be it!

Best,

Brett

admin says:
01/25/2010

Wow. So, you sum up a lot of what I feel as well, though I tend to be more diplomatic. :-)
I’ll probably write about the photoshop layer-effect one-size-fits-all usage as its starting to show up everywhere, even in Carl Buell’s work.
About paleoart… can’t imagine how you haven’t made it to pro. I find your work among the most interesting of theropod reconstructions out there. Up there with Andrea Cau’s.
My favorite books are Gregory Paul’s. A new book? Me too – all over it!

Brett Booth says:
01/25/2010

Yeah, I tend to speak my mind but I think I lost it when I spent the money on the book and the art was sub par. The writing didn’t really surprise me. Holtz is a smart guy but he doesn’t have Bakker’s or Paul’s way with words, he’s too ‘stiff’.

I think the whole notion that comic book and thus the art is only for kids has a lot to do with it. The funny thing is the average comic book reader is between 18-34. So really it’s adults who read comics. But that stigma is there. My wife points out that I might start to dislike drawing dinosaurs if I started getting pro work. She might be right, I actually don’t like comics anymore, but I think that has more to do with all the backstabbing and gossip. I don’t associate with any other comic artists anymore. So I’m not sure what to think at this point. I do now know several paleontologists so maybe that will help, one is Andrea Cau so I don’t think he’ll be asking for art;)

Computers are wonderful, I know a guy at Sony games who used to be my roommate and co writer on a bunch of comics, that does video games. I talked to him about going 3-d and then turning that back into 2-d for comics but the technology isn’t there yet or affordable enough. But this need to slap a painted image on a real background doesn’t work unless you modify the background to look like a painting! I myself hate drawing backgrounds, but they need to be there sometimes:(

Thanks again, high praise indeed!

Best,

Brett

admin says:
01/25/2010

I presume you’d still like comics if the content were as good as your art.

as to hand-drawn computer animation:
The technology is one year away. If I can afford it. I know its not there now, but this (http://www.vimeo.com/6149680) proof and those at aqtree.de show it. Hope to be able to draw on 3D in your level of detail in about one year. Then, the lines are told how to tween via relations to parameters in the 3D scene.

Brett Booth says:
01/26/2010

I am far from a great comic artist, seriously, I’m not looking for praise. I’m somewhere in the middle, BUT I can do certain things better than others… or maybe, I know how to translate stuff to comic form using reference better. I’m a realist, I know were I stand. So there are better artist but I still stopped reading the books, not enough meat for me. I prefer novels, so doing comic/graphic novel adaptions works out well.

I’m interested to know how that 3D was done. Did they take a picture and somehow translate it? Or was it done the more traditional way. I like the style of it, not what I was expecting.

Years ago I did some art for a guy who translated it into 3D, looked good like my stuff, but the time to do it was like a year or so. For one animal! I don’t know if I’d have the patience for that!

Best,

Brett

admin says:
01/26/2010

I did that procompsognathus in about a week, with lots of interruptions. Modeled in about a 3 days, including UV maps and texture paints. Of course, before that it took ages researching – that was my first dinosaur. Then I brought it into a prototype of aQtree, the tool we’re working on and screwed around on the shaders for a day. The strokes are the main uncontrollable thing right now… can’t shift thickness, fineness, etc. No ability to connect thickness to a scene parameter such as distance from camera, or incidence angle.

When we have the new version, I imagine someone like you partnering with someone like me, who creates a blobby theropod volume, which you then adapt to a specific species’ size and proportions. Thereafter, you draw the details, taking the specifics of scene parameters into account. Then… pose and duplicate into herds, or animate.
I get all itchy just thinking about it.

Brett Booth says:
01/26/2010

Interesting. Well look me up if and when you want to try, it could be an interesting experiment. It would be quite fricken cool to see styles on paleoart animated.

Best,

Brett

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