Damn that is an awesome log. I love its shape, the way it sits on the sand, the way the light from the water reflects up on it. Man. _LOG_.
And the pterosaur is cool too. Especially the color scheme. And the way the wings turn up at the tips. Like the tips of a bird's wings. It seems like the wings are oddly short, though. Usually I see pterosaur skeletons reconstructed with proportionally very long and narrow wings for their bodies compaired to similarly sized birds. This one's wings seem short, though, even short than a bird's would be. Or is that just a trick of perspective?
Well, I don't actually measure my paintings, so there will be some proportional... erm... idiosyncrasies in all of them. But checking it against the skeletal [link] which is measured, it's pretty close. Pterodactylus just didn't have crazy-long wings.
The turned-up wingtips were inspired by some computer modelling done for the Stanford-NG Pterosaur project; pterosaur wing outer wing spars were really flexible--which I don't show enough of in my paintings.
Huh, I wonder what the wing proportions thing says about Pterodactylus ecology. It looks like they were sacrificing lift for speed, which doesn't make much sense in a seabird. On the other hand, the pterosaur biomechanics paper I read last year was pretty old, and I'm sure the general understanding of their functional ecology has changed.
Anyway, I was going to ask about the wingtips. How did they acheive that kind of flex? Was the tip of the finger made of particularly flexible bone? Or did they have weird joints on those last digits? And how flexible are we talking here? Like as flexible as the pinions on a bird?
On wing proportions; it's the other way around. Long thin wings are fast (achieve maximum lift at higher speeds) than shorter, broader wings. Pterodactylus looks like it wasn't a particularly fast flyer. I think it was predominantly a ground feeder, and it's wings were adapted for bursts at take-off.
The bone was flexible - there was next to no extra flexibility at the joints (there might even have been less, because the bone's thicker there, but I don't remember all that clearly). The entire wing finger was flexible, but obviously most flexible at the tip. To be honest I don't remember the exact extent -- but I got the impression the wing finger overall would be able to flex like the outer wing of a bird (wrist to feather tip).
Absolutely amazing. You're one of the few artist able to come back to live the fascinating pterosaurs with realism. (looking at that I can imagine the movement of the scene and "see" a "real" pterosaur alive)
Hey, well, that's what it's all about right? Thanks.
I think what makes the difference is really having got to know pterosaurs from the inside out. I've done a lot of muscle restorations, some sculptures, seen computer simulations of membrane tension, and (lucky for me) got to play with on of the best pterosaur specimens around -- the AMNH Anhanguera santanae. Although you can't see all that stuff directly, it seeps through somehow. I guess when I go to pose them, I know what I'm saying that joint and its muscles are supposed to be doing what the membrane is up to, and so on-- which I can't really say for a lot of other animals.
Not all the artist get that effect, despite of using the same technic.
Personally, I'm still (and forever) learning, trying to decipher animal musculature, but I still have not the chance of working with real specimens (that's a really big luck!).
BTW, I've read some rumors about a soft-tissued crest in the head of Pterodactylus, do you know something about it?
It sure is an interesting time to be in pterosaur research, there's been an explosion of new theories and methods recently. It's not led to much pinning down about what was going on yet, in my opinion, but it's all good stuff (well most of it is...).
I'm not sure how long these things take me, because I rarely do them solid -- maybe about two days, or a bit more.