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2 0 0 0s - 1 0s: D I G I T A L  D I N O S A U R S

With virtually every major paleoartist as a pre-production advisor, Disney's anthromorphized 'Dinosaur' proved to be the biggest prehistoric blockbuster since 'Jurassic Park' at the top of the new millenia. 'Walking With Dinosaurs' became the most watched science documentary in Britain (not to mention most expensive ever made). Followed by various sequels, promotional merchandise and toy line, WWD achieved another successful spawn with a Live Experience traveling show that continued to tour into 2010.

Japanese toymakers in lines such as Kaiyodo's Dinotales and Favorite Co.'s various desktop models, set a precedent for accuracy. Fans of collecting dinosaur figures have an internet forum and display acquisitions at the collectorsquest.com site.


Dinosaur discoveries just got better in the new millenia with Leonardo the mummy duckbill dinosaur which will hopefully reveal skin details previously unknown. Paleobiologists hope to study the internal viscerae found preserved in Scipionyx, found in 1998. Some begin examining the blood vessels in bone marrow - which may yield DNA.

With over a century of paleontological illustrations, and the last thirty years packed with active scenes, it seemed there was no new dinosaur behavior to show, only new techniques to show it. The Field Museum of Chicago commissioned hominid researcher John Gurche to restore the famous Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton "Sue". The piece won a Lanzendorf Award (which is Chicago-based itself.)  In some ways, it was as if Rudy Zallinger was hired to restore a dinosaur in the 1970s based on work he did in the 1950s. What we ended up with was a quite unremarkable "award winner". The committee will have to pick their winners based on higher criteria. But by this point, a new generation was ready, willing and able. 

 Raul Martin

The first real mover and shaker of the 2000s would unquestionably be Spanish artist Raul Martin, a digital painter who assimilates the environs and landscapes of Henderson with that stark realism only Gurche before him achieved. The only paleoartist who has raised the bar technically since Greg Paul, Martin is at his best when doing original work; his copy of other artists (see Martin's fleshed out profiles of Greg Paul's skeletons and his Henderson-esque work in Barrett's National Geographic's Dinosaurs) compared to completely original Diplodocus herd and Deinosuchus and Albertosaurus. You do feel like you're there in the shot. Every puddle, every pebble, every leaf, every ray of sunlight, every scale, every tubercle. It seems to be all there. (But no, he was not the first to show dino sex).



  Julius T. Csotonyi

  Canadian Julius Csotonyi is fast becoming a favorite paleoartist. Combining traditional paint and digital illustration like Martin, he has already delivered excellent multi-specie panoramic views without the clutter of past attempts by other artists, as well as being duckbill mummy Leonardo's official illustrator. Julius' 64'x4' mural is a classic, down to the phase of Venus in the sky. He's done work for National Geographic and Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology among others.

 

  David Krentz 

David Krentz is an acclaimed dinosaur sculptor who captures various species in memorable, unique poses due to his in-depth knowledge and up-to-the-minute attention to accuracy. His bronze Antedeluvia Collection and his adorable "Micro-saurs" are prized among collectors. Problem is Krentz regularly works on movies, and is apparently not able to work on new sculptures as much as everyone would like.

 

 

 Craig Brown

 Craig Brown is a computer artist effective at rendering dinosaurs with 3D sculpting software called ZBrush.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Sean Cooper
  
  The man behind the menagerie of Paleocraft resin sculptures. It's as if Jay Matternes' prehistoric mammals are now available in 3D. He has done dinosaurs but his heart and soul goes into his mammals, and a wheelchair won't stop him from sharing his talent with the world.

 

 

 

  Taburin 
  
  This Japanese sculptor carved his niche by carving out an army of clearly accurate dinosaur skeletons entirely out of wood. Picking an example was very difficult since all of his work needs to be seen to be believed - his work could fool a paleontologist into thinking they were looking at the real fossil. Extraordinarily detailed, his work is not for sale, sometimes taking several months to complete one species.

 

 HONORABLE MENTIONS:

 Framestore

U.K. based Framestore is the company that showed the modern world - first - what the prehistoric world (as in all eras) would look like via their high quality digital/live action puppets in the BBC's Walking With Dinosaurs, Walking With Prehistoric Beasts, Before the Dinosaurs and Chased By Dinosaurs. Not all the creatures were 100% accurate (in fact the T Rex was one of the worst ever CGI'd), and the behavior was often speculative more than factual, but the series still set the bar for all to follow.

 

 DISHONORABLE MENTIONS:

Raul Martin


As brilliant an artist as he is, it was quite disappointing to see in National Geographic's Dinosaurs book, illustrated by then-emerging Raul Martin, he blatantly copied Gregory Paul's 1980s art (seen in black and white), like this Protoceratops and Baryonyx. Sure, imitation is flattery and all that nonsense, but Paul and the other artists Martin ripped off were all without credit or permission. Below is another example from the same book, this time, a copy of Stephen Czerkas' 1980s sculpture.

Fabio Pastori

 Fabio Pastori is a commercial artist from Italy who closely mimics Luis Rey with heads in the foreground. Other works look like lazy William Stout style drawings.  On the right are the pieces that Fabio copied. The first set is copied from John Gurche's Barosaurus/Allosaurus, the second a Rugops copied directly from a Carnotaurus sculpture by Tony McVey and a 2 for 1 piece where he copied both Mark Hallett and Luis Rey. He often reverses the image to throw off detection (I reversed them back so it's easier to see the similarity). This is only a sample of what I am aware of. Fabio was perilously close to becoming a 'Dave Marrs of the 2000s'.