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Lauren Helton ([personal profile] dino_a_day) wrote2014-06-10 11:46 pm
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Archaeopteryx - Gather - Day 32



Archaeopteryx lithographica has, until recently, enjoyed its place in the spotlight as the link between dinosaurs and birds. When it was discovered in 1861, it was regarded as a bird, but one with unusually dinosaur-like characteristics, including a long bony tail, clawed hands on the wings, and a toothed snout. As more specimens have been recovered, however, and with more and more feathered theropods being found every year, it has become evident that Archaeopteryx may not be the all-important transitional stage we once thought it to be. While some paleontologists maintain that it belongs in Avialae, others have suggested it may in fact be a troodontid or other maniraptoran, and therefore still a close relative of birds, but no more so than a species like Velociraptor, rather than a likely ancestor of modern birds. Whatever the case may be, it was certainly an important discovery in its time, and remains a well-known public ambassador for the evolutionary history of birds.
needled_ink_1975: A snarling cougar; colored pencil on paper (Default)

[personal profile] needled_ink_1975 2014-06-11 08:17 am (UTC)(link)
I was wondering when he would arrive, and he's gorgeous. The grass in his beak, and the way he's looking up, make me think he's about to fly back to a nest. I'm definitely in the "Yes, they flew, dammit" camp, because their pedal claws are sharp, hardly worn at the points– wear would indicate a lot of walking around.

Got any feather drawing tips? I avoid drawing birdies, because: feathers. I suck at feathers.

Thanks so much.

–Nici
needled_ink_1975: A snarling cougar; colored pencil on paper (Default)

[personal profile] needled_ink_1975 2014-06-11 06:12 pm (UTC)(link)
Ahem. Yes, re: not-grass :) I'll remember.

I didn't know about the feather tracts, and I've saved the pic for reference. I'm wondering why that wasn't covered in high school biology (also wondering why I didn't pay attention while plucking chickens). I'm presuming that the tracks show where the vaned feathers grow, and the gaps are filled with down feathers (and covered by the vaned ones)? If that's the case then I see patterns that would assist with movement, like those 'bare' gaps leading from the cheeks to the sides of the neck (skin would crease there when the head turns).

I was aware of the patterns, the grouping of feathers, and wings... Oh boy. I used to be a tattooist, so yeah, lots of eagle wings, but several people are walking around with rather realistic eagle wings on their persons. Well, realistic as far as those tattooed wings resembling the drawing you linked/a drawing of the underside of the wing. Like that, not photo-realistic, or even approaching textural likeness. That's where I flunk (and flunking leads to cheating. See below). And all other feathers (on paper/electronic media) probably suffered from my 'laying' them incorrectly, but also the lack of that softness.

I look at your Archaeopteryx, and there's a softness to the feathers, and because of that softness they look flexible, like they'd move with ol' Archy. At the same time, the feathers also have clear form, and weight. Softness+flexibility+form+weight is a very tall order, on an art-tech level (yes, that was me saying you're awesome).

If I get really technical, do you sketch and then soften outlines, or do you suggest individual feathers with shading? Cos here's the other thing: *you* are the artist; I am the draftswoman– I don't interpret; I draw what I see. The technical side of that involves ghosting the outlines of what I can see, and softening them later. I think that's where I lose the softness+flexibility. I give 'em form+weight just fine, but then they cease to be feathers and turn into tongue depressors :-P

Thanks for all the cool pointers.

And re: cheating–

From Nic1


That was a tattoo design, hence the heavily outlined beak.
needled_ink_1975: A snarling cougar; colored pencil on paper (Default)

[personal profile] needled_ink_1975 2014-06-11 07:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Now I actually *want* to draw that at which I usually flunk, so what you've described is really helpful. Especially the point about the vanes. If I relate that back to the feather tracts. They don't all have to be detailed in, as you say, but if I keep track of them, the vanes can help with the lay of each group of feathers. Umm (just thinking in pictures) ...that would also help with roused or wind-ruffled feathers.

(got email to say you'd edited your reply. Refreshed page... Cool! Thanks for the sketch!)

I see what you mean about the highlights– that sketch suggests to me that there's strong light over his wing and back, and the detail comes with the shadow. So the edges of the feathers would sort of fade up, into that light. I think lineart, like your sketch, shows something about feathers that's not always plain in paintings: when and where they overlap, they're very nearly flush. That's something I forget. There's very little shadow underneath that feather-edge, because it's not raised. Roused/ruffled, yes, then the shading must show depth.

If you'd like to draw more and have the time, I will be both grateful and eager to learn.

(and is that a booted leg I see *grin*)

Thank you thank you thank you.

(The bird I've always wanted to draw is a crowned eagle. In spring/summer we had a pair nesting about 500 meters from our house. They're the most common eagle in this area; I've been looking at them, watching them soar since I was tiny, but I never tire of seeing them. Thing is, I don't wanna flunk when I draw one of those. That would be an insult to the eagles.

And re: that beak– yeah, tattooing is tricky. Certain outlines have to be hard, so that they'll outlive sunburn etc. And his head looks the right shape because I love drawing bones and skulls. One can get away with knowing only what the outside of a car looks like, but when it comes to animals and humans, knowing what's on the inside informs the exterior Oh boy, was I singing to the choir, or what? *red!face*)
Edited 2014-06-11 19:32 (UTC)