The TetZooMCon palaeoart workshop

December 16, 2020

Darren has written a brief review of TetZooMCon, the online event that replaced the now traditional annual conference of Tetrapod Zoology. I just want to add a few notes on the palaeoart workshop part of the event, hosted by John Conway’s moustache:

There were 140 people registered for the workship, randomly allocated to one of fourteen palaeoartists leading the groups (although one artist didn’t show up). After John’s brief introduction, each of the groups met in its own breakout room to work on … well, whatever the leader chose.

There was an amazing line-up of artists, a real Who’s Who of the field, encompassing wildly different styles and including but not limited to Scott Hartman, David Krentz, Bob Nicholls, Steve White and Mark Witton. Some led workshops on colour, some on 3D modelling, some on integument and so on.

Happily, I landed in a session that was perfect for me, as a non-artist trying to pick up some essentials. Steve White (whose pen work I absolutely love) led us through drawing a T. rex with proper attention to anatomy, with each of us encouraged to draw along with him. For me it was an education in thinking about how details of the bony anatomy would have influenced musculature, and how that might have been apparent in the living animal. Here is my lame attempt:

Yes, I know all sorts of thing are off with the proportions. But the point here was the process, not the result. And yes, it’s a bit shrinkwrapped in places, but that’s because of the exercise we were going through rather than necessarily reflecting how anyone thinks the animal looked in life.

I found this enormously helpful, and would happily have carried on far beyond the rather miserly one hour allocated to the workshop. I want to thank Darren and John for putting the whole event together, and especially Steve White for leading our group so well and responding so helpfully to all our questions.

7 Responses to “The TetZooMCon palaeoart workshop”

  1. dale m Says:

    Sounds like a fun filled event!

  2. Berislav Says:

    The drawing is quite good. I do have some different ideas, though. The biggest one is that the teeth were not sticking out. I like the shape of the tip of the snout and the prominent false heel.

  3. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks, Berislav. Steve acknowledged that there is ongoing disagreement about theropod lips, and basically just said “… so I’m just going to put the tips of a few teeth in here”. It’s a controversy that I am not qualified to have an opinion on.

    I am intrigued by the idea of having another go at this, working directly from a skeletal reconstruction (of the skull in particular) … though when I will find time, I don’t know.

  4. llewelly Says:

    if the teeth aren’t visible, how are mammals expected to know what we’re looking at?

  5. Berislav Says:

    Mike, I went on a long trip from theropod lips to croc lips and back. Almost 40 years long trip. I have abandoned the croc version several years ago. I made a new reconstruction of T. rex head a couple of years ago ( ) I am still not satisfied with it, but I think I am getting closer. I’ll try the whole body restoration again soon.

  6. Leo W Sham Says:

    There’s another (simplified) vignette: for tyrannosaurids the posterior dentary convexes upward, bringing the jawline up caudally; that for allosauroids (esp. carcharodontosauroids) convexes downward, resulting in a flat jawline.

  7. Mike Taylor Says:

    Interesting, Leo, thanks!

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