Fighting apatosaur art #4: #MikeTaylorAwesomeDinoArt

September 27, 2015

I mentioned last time that, as I sat next to Bob Nicholls in an SVPCA session, I started sketching an apatosaur combat in the hope that my horrible drawing would provoke Bob to do a good one. That worked admirably, which means there is no good reason for me to subject you to my own sketch.

So here it is.


I think the main lessons to draw from this piece are:

  1. I can’t draw heads.
  2. I can’t draw limbs.
  3. I can’t draw torsos.
  4. I may be just about capable of drawing tails.

In defence of this picture, it does have something of a How And Why Wonder Book of Dinosaurs quality to it, which people of a certain age may find nostalgic. (See also: How fat was Brontosaurus?)

During a break, I asked for Bob’s advice on how I can do better. I know I’ll never be an artist, but it’s fun to sketch (especially during mammal talks) and I’d like to improve a little. The main point Bob made was to think about where the light is coming from. Be consistent about that, and you get an immediate improvement in realism.

So here’s what I sketched the next day, with that in mind:


So what have we learned this time?

  1. I didn’t consciously do this, but I ended up with a composition kind of similar to what Bob came up with, but worse.
  2. In my desire to achieve the intertwined-necks pose, I made the necks too long and thin.
  3. I still can’t draw heads.
  4. Let’s just forget about the hindlimb of the one on the left.
  5. Uh, and let’s forget the torsos, too.
  6. But at least the light is coming from top right!

In short, as Stephen Sondheim put it, art isn’t easy. I wish I had more time to put into it.

The real moral of this story is: if I had a crack at drawing fighting apatosaurs, you definitely can. Let us know if you do — leave a comment. We’ll gather people’s contributions in a future post.

(See also the previous Fighting Apatosaur Art posts: Brian Engh #1, Brian Engh #2, Bob Nicholls. More to come!)

10 Responses to “Fighting apatosaur art #4: #MikeTaylorAwesomeDinoArt”

  1. dmaas Says:

    Like! Thanks for sharing :-)

  2. Howard Moody Says:

    Surely their necks weren’t flexible enough to wrap around each other like that?

  3. Darius Says:

    Those look really good!
    Drawing animals that are actually doing stuff is very difficult (see below), and it seems that you’ve got a talent for the most difficult part of it (making them seem alive and in motion), so the rest is just technique that’s not so difficult to learn (proportions, shading etc.).

    Well, I didn’t exactly draw two fighting apatosaurs, but this was what I came up with immediately after your talk:

    (hope the link works)

    An Apatosaur presenting its neck to an _Allosaurus_ as a deterrent, (or perhaps preparing to have it crash down on the predator’s back?).

    I know that wasn’t the purpose you had in mind, and I don’t think it’s what the structure evolved for, but I just couldn’t help but think what a pain in the…well…mouth this neck would have been for a theropod trying to bite it. That and I was embarrassingly free of ideas but really had the urge to draw a spike-necked sauropod.

    Also since I thought spikes AND a beard would look silly on the apatosaur I needed another animal to get the beard.

  4. Mike Taylor Says:

    Darius, thank you for the kind words!

    I love your allosaur-threatening apatosaur — and of course it fits well into the long-running SV-POW! palaeoart them “sauropods stomping theropods”. With your permission, I’d like to include that piece in a followup post?

    I do agree, by the way, that features evolved for intraspecific combat will invariably be exapted for inter specific combat. I’ve often though how ludicrous it would be for a Triceratops, facing a tyrannosaur, to think “But no, my horns evolved as sexual display/combat structures, I can’t use them to skewer this predator”. Once a feature like that has evolved, it will be used for any and every relevant purpose.

    Howard, you’re probably right about the pose of the second piece. I was seduced by the artistic potential of the pose, and overlooked its scientific plausibility.

  5. Darius Says:

    Sure, I’d feel honoured!
    Those were pretty much my thoughts exactly on the matter.

  6. Andrew Pearson Says:

    Be aware my virus scanner is detecting malicious content on your site.
    Please check

  7. Mike Taylor Says:

    I’m pretty sure your virus scanner is confused. SV-POW! runs on, which hosts many millions of blogs. If anything went wrong with it, they’d find and fix it PDQ.

  8. William Miller Says:

    A probably crazy idea: what if multiple apatosaurs used their powerful necks to pull down trees too tall to reach otherwise?

  9. Mike Taylor Says:

    Interesting idea. I wonder, do we know of any extant animals that co-operate for this kind of purpose? Elephants working together to bring down trees?

  10. […] in a comment on the post with my own awful attempts, Darius posted this sketch of a BROTOSMASH-themed […]

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