A digital drawing of a Bearded Neanderthal man

Bearded Neanderthal Man

Going Digital to Connect Past and Present

Introduction to "Going Digital"

 Watercolors and graphite are usually my preferred medium and way of expression. some of my favorite subject matter is the Michigan landscape as well as old structures on them.

In the last two years however, I have discovered a new medium to digitally explore Paleoart, or artistic depiction of animals and plants living before recorded history. 

I purchased a phone (Galaxy Note) and a laptop (Lenovo Yoga) both with styluses. Even though I’m a late bloomer, digital art and photography are now competing with traditional media!

Like any media, however, digital has it’s positive and negative attributes:

Disadvantages of Going Digital

·      Hard to see the screen in direct sunlight

·      Learning curve of graphic software can be steep-even with simpler programs like Autodesk Sketchbook which is what I use.

·      Too easy to “cheat” by taking a photo of the subject matter and trace over. 

·      I have no idea how to apply, market, or sell my digital work

·     loss of kinetic feel of traditional medium and their physical properties can mimic nature’s processes. Which is why I will never give up traditional media.

Advantages of Going Digital

·      It’s easy to correct mistakes and make edits

·      Fun learning a new medium

·      create many versions-experiment

·      Easy to see the screen in studio settings. Zooming in on one area being worked is a game changer

·     Ability to use layers is truly magical! 

Connecting the Past with the Present

Tyrannosaurus rex

I have never lost my childhood wonder of dinosaurs and continue to learn more about them. I enjoy recreating them from photos of dinosaur mounts in museums. T-rex has always been my favorite of course and continues to be in part because of the research that has gone in to them. 

Skull Study

I initially drew this T-rex skull directly from a replica at Michigan State University Natural History Museum. I then digitally enhanced the drawing to give it more contrast as you see here.

A digital drawing of a T-rex Skull
A digital drawing of Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex

Sue, Drawing I

This is my first attempt at drawing Sue, the T-rex fossil on display at the Chicago’s Field Museum. I drew this on my phone

Sue, Drawing II

What I imagine if I saw Sue in my back yard!

Backyard T-rex is a digital imagining of a dinosaur in my back yard

Sue, Drawing III

I drew the below version from a photo I took of Sue when I went to the Chicago Field Museum last August 

Ancient Humans

When I was eight, I checked out a book at my elementary school library called “Fossil Man” which had a picture of a Neanderthal skull on the cover. Since then I have been fascinated by the Homo lineage-those extinct types of humans and ancient examples of our own species.

I love transforming a picture of a skull into an image that breathes life into the work. I start by uploading a photo of a skull, then I create new layers and flesh it out. I often use stock photos and images of people from around the world as reference. One of my first attempts is this short video done on my phone of “Broken Hill Man,” based on the Kabwe skull found in Africa.

Human Paleoart

Flickr Art

For more information and examples of prehistoric humans, go to my Flickr album titled “Paleoart“.

Conclusion

I love all things in the natural world. My depictions of prehistoric life helps me to connect ancient beings to what is alive today. This adds a fourth dimension to observing and thinking and experiencing nature.

When I’m drawing animals, or studying ancient people, I am not only connected to the present but the ties to the past as well. 

Digital art has allowed me to explore these connections with past and present to a degree I wouldn’t have thought possible three years ago!

Stay tuned with my next blog where I will feature some more digital imaging-Photography!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *