I would like to get some critique from paleo- enthusiasts and illustrators. For those who are interested in the thoughts behind this illustration and the context in which it was made, please read the following:
General Infos about the animal:
This is a raw attempt to illustrate Carnufex Carolinensis, an early ancestor of modern crocodiles which lived during the late triassic period about 232 million years ago in North America. This three meter long Crocodylomorph is thought to have been the top- predator of its ecosystem until the dinosaurs went on to fill these role. In comparison to modern crocodiles, Carnufex Carolinensis is thought to have been more of a terrestrial animal (land- living) and walked on its hind legs which were much longer than those of modern crocodiles.This interesting predator was first described in 2015 by Lindsey Zanno (Zanno Lab: zannolab.wordpress.com) and was found in the carnian- age pekin formation in Chatham County, North Carolina.
This illustration was thought as an exercise within my Scientific Illustration- study in Luzern Switzerland. Within about five weeks every student should realize his individual project, including the brainstorming, scientific research, conceptualization, execution, meetings with the teachers, revision and final presentation. The main topic for this exercise was RAINFOREST. But I wanted really badly to do some paleoart . So I decided to bring in some triassic "rainforest" just as a background- information to satisfy my teachers. The main content was going to be the Carnufex Carolinensis. Apart from the content of the illustration, my goal was to achieve some technical skills in digital painting without using or overpainting any photographic material. So, photographs for inspiration only. The format of the illustration originally is 8303 x 3035 Px wide and should fit a four- page fold- out in a Natural Geographic issue. The file here is only 1600 Px wide. But I think it's enough to see some details.
The Triassic climate was generally hot and dry.
But at the time Carnufex Carolinensis lived, North Carolina was a wet, warm equatorial region beginning to break apart from the supercontinent Pangea.
And thats what I wanted to best represent in my illustration. I wanted to show a change from a long hot and dry season to an upcoming rainy season which is announced by thunderclouds in the upper left corner of the illustration. There is a lot of moisture in the air which gets heated up by the sun on the right and creates kind of a misty greenhouse and gives the illustration a dramatic atmosphere.
In the foreground you can see some triassic flora including Pleuromeia, Glossopteris and ferns. And in the background little forests with some Auracaria- trees. As far as I could find out during my relatively short research- time, it seems like there is not a lot of fossile records on the triassic flora in this region. So I don't really know if this plants were typical for this region during the triassic period, but I assume they were typical for the late triassic period in general and therefore widely spread over the supercontinent Pangea.
Because of the general climate during the triassic period, the typical deposits of that time are red sandstones. This fact inspired the colors for the landscape.
This very warm tones gave me a nice contrast to the more cold tones of the sky and the background.
To represent the triassic rift basins around North Carolina, I wanted to bring in some steep dry canyons. I had the idea of Pangea braking apart and leaving this deep canyons and basins which got filled with sea- water. I also had the idea of this basins drying out during the dry seasons and leaving salty beaches which more or less can be seen on the right background.
There is, as far as I know, only one officially used illustration of this animal by Jorge Gonzales. Thats why I was so interested in illustrating it.
I wanted to illustrate something new that wasn't done often before. Gonzales illustration shows this animal separated from its habitat, very realistically and detailed. My approach was to show this animal in its habitat, but not as detailed as Gonzales did. We really don't know how exactly this animals looked like, how their skin was colored and how they behaved. So I set my Carnufexes into a slight backlight- situation to define their shape without having to give them to much detail, without having to make to much unqualified statements. I gave them just the texture and color they needed to be readable as extinct Crocodylomorphs. In total there are four animals in this illustration. Two of them stand on their hind legs, two on all four. I wanted to show, that Carnufexes maybe used all four to climb around and sometimes walked only on their hind legs to hunt, fight or just overlook the environment. I also wanted to show one taking a bath in the foreground- basin as a reference to our modern semi- aquatic crocodiles. But I gave up this idea, because I didn't want to overload the illustration with too many animals around the same spot. Concerning reference material, I've consulted pictures of modern crocodiles and of course the official material by Zanno Lab.
I hope my english wasn't too bad. I would love to read what you think about this illustration. As mentioned in the beginning, critiques for every aspect of this illustration are highly welcome! I hope everything I've wrote was correct from a paleontological standpoint of view. Please correct me if there's something wrong.
Thank you very much for reading my explanations, giving comments and helping me to improve my skills and knowledge!
I'm a retired artist. Used to do Monet-like landscapes, seascapes, etc. I painted from nature. Got a few good reviews. Made a few bucks. It was like a long vacation from the problems in the world.
Hey!? Remember that the biomass during the Mesozoic was multiple times what it is today. Oxygen was much more abundant, which helped create giants from bugs to Plateosaurus .
Sooo..., Go crazy with lots and lots of animals. A lake in Africa is a gathering place for every species imaginable. Huge herds of zebra and wildebeests,
I'd put a whole herd of the big Plateosarus' in the background. With a few detailed specimens just behind the rocks. Their skin would be an iridescent blue, with colorful bird-like head markings. Also have carnivores, in small groups, placed strategically about, as modern African lions, meerkats, croc's, etc., group themselves.
I'd have the air swarming with the tiny pterodons' , wheeling about as modern birds do. I could go on.
I'd remove the foliage on the right, as it blocks the view.
I'd also really open up the sky and let the sun flood in. Make the world look hot and damp.
I am looking forward to seeing your project develop.
Vision: It's a really good representation of a Triassic enviroment. It's approach of flora and fauna is fantastic but I feel it would be interesting a little bit of detail, but this is something minimal. I love the scene.
Originality: Despite the focus of the illustration is the Carnufex, the animal is not the central piece of the artwork. It has a more scondary position but I love this idea, because the animal has the feeling of being integrated in the enviroment, making the scene more natural and realistic. A common style of my favorite paleoartist Doug Henderson. Although of this, I feel the animals are not doing something more than standing in the place. It would be interesting to see them doing any other thing.
Technique: I'm not really into drawing work but I feel this is digital painting and in general, I think the artist knows his skills. No problem with this subject.
Impact: Although I don't see a really impressive scene in this picture, the way the artist depicts the animals in their enviroment makes me feel like I would love to be in that wild and ancient times. Is really evocative and puts the animal in the context in which it lived.
About the trees beside the Carnufex: maybe you could detail the leaves a bit better (what is it: some sort of Gingkoale? If so, you could suggest the form of the Ginkgo leaves a bit better, see the form of the leaves on my featured piece for example). Same for the ferns. Otherwise, it's gonna be a +fav
And a detail: it's Carnufex carolinensis. Capitalization goes only for the name of the genus, not the name of the species.
Thanks for your critique. It seems like I've fallen into this trap a long time ago in my childhood and never came out of it by now. You and Zimics are my saviours Somehow frustrating I wasn't really aware of it before. But this "shrink-wrapping" looks so good, doesn't it?
My only criticism would be the head of the Carnufex to the right - the skull holes of the animal are perfectly visible, which have been depicted in some paleoart, specially in dinosaurs, but it is not observed in modern archosars, or most of the modern vertebrates, at least whose that have good health.
Could i ask what is you First language?