Thursday 23 July 2015

A year of Tyrannosaurus rex artworks

A minor milestone was reached this week at my print store - there's now 50 different bits of art in there. Given that I only started selling prints less than a year ago, I'm happy to see some substantial growth in my catalogue already (albeit with some cheating - many are 'reworked' older pieces, rather than entirely new bits). Lots more will be available in the near future - I'm holding several bits back for various reasons, including a project I'll elaborate more on soon. Working on these in relative secret is why things have been a bit quiet around her for the last month.

Teasers of unreleased artwork: Troodon, Repenomamus, diminutive azhdarchid and Diplodocus. We'll revisit the reason for holding these back in due time.
Scanning through my shop revealed an unexpected bias in my output this year. I make an effort to portray varying subjects and taxa, and find most interest in reconstructing lesser depicted species, scenarios and behaviour. I don't think I do too badly with this - at least within the context of Mesozoic reptiles - so was surprised to find 5 images dedicated to the same species, and one which has been painted, sculpted, animated and rendered to death: Tyrannosaurus rex. Two of these were commissions, but that still leaves three on my own head. I'm forced to concede that I must be a closet Tyrannosaurus fan - I had no idea.

I thought it would be fun to show the last year's worth of king tyrant art: some of them may still be fresh in your memory, but two are new (well, reworked). I realise that I've almost got a growth series across these images, and I've ordered them according to this. As usual, you can grab high quality art prints of these from my store.

Tyrant dinosaurs vs. bees. Bees are winning. Click here for prints.
First up is my tyrants and bees, the image I created to raise money for various bee charity causes in February of this year. Auctioning a framed version and sales of prints raised £249 for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and a £30 contribution for a new beehive at the Cumberland House Natural History Museum, who also received the image for use on a display board. As you may remember, it shows two infant tyrants checking out a honey bee nest, molecular data indicating that honey bee ancestors were alive in the Late Cretaceous. My favourite bit of the image remains the smaller animal on the right, losing the battle with tiny arthropods. I like the fact its arms aren't really long enough to cover its eyes.

Resting rexes, and bonus moths. Click here for prints.
Next is Chidumebi Browne's reclined teenage Tyrannosaurus commission, from November 2014. These animals are heavily based on BMRP 2002.4.1, the probable half-size Tyrannosaurus with proportions and facial structure quite different to large adults. Of course, some would argue that this makes this image feature Nanotyrannus, but I don't want to get into that here. Those wanting to open that can of worms may want to read Thomas Carr's blog post (and comments) on this topic, as well as Mark Wildman's take on the same debate. 

Dating tip: romantic sunsets don't count for much when you're crushing your partner's skull. If you fancy a physical copy of this scene of violent tyrannosaur copulation, you might be a bit odd. Nevertheless, prints are here.
Something new now - a reworked take on my mating, neck-biting tyrants. Those with long memories will recall the first guise of this image appeared in 2013 with my comments on All Your Yesterdays, the crowd-sourced follow up to All Yesterdays. As explained in that post, a number of tyrants show evidence of having been bitten around the jaws and head, with the area around the braincase of some specimens being badly damaged. I'd been looking at Savannah monitors shortly before rendering the original of this, and found their toughened neck skin - which apparently exists because of rough copulatory behaviour - of interest. I tend to have half my mind on prehistoric animals when looking at modern ones, and it wasn't long before I was wondering if some Tyrannosaurus injuries were the result of similarly violent nuptial encounters. This reworked version includes some very minor anatomical tweaks, slight colouration changes, and a vastly more detailed background.

Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus: finally bro-dogs. Get printed up here.
Another commission from Chidumebi Browne resulted one of the strangest pictures I know of featuring Tyrannosaurus - but hopefully one which is interesting and thought provoking. Alongside this big female (note the similar colour to the red teenage animal in Chidumebi's first commission - this is the grown up version of a female in that 'universe') is a baby Triceratops, the idea being that it's been interspecifically adopted by the tyrant. I provided a long commentary on this image and the likelihood of the scenario back in March, concluding that this image might not be as crazy as it first seems. Quite a few modern animals - including dinosaurs - are known to kidnap or inherit the offspring of other species, although there's not always clear explanations for why it happens. I tried to imply a bit of a story in Chidumebi's concept, those marauding adults in the distance taking clear, hungry interest in the Triceratops infant. I get the feeling this scene wouldn't stay peaceful for long.

A Late Cretaceous evening, ruled by an especially robust tyrant. You can own a copy of him if you click here.  
Finally, one more new image: a major overhaul of one of the first images posted at this blog (end 2012). Changes include anatomical tweaks, a revised pose (now trotting, not standing), new colouration (the cranial pattern is a nod to the judge helmets in Dredd, because scientists predict Tyrannosaurus are some of the few things in life more badass than that movie) and a heck of a lot more background detail. The depicted animal is a 'robust' Tyrannosaurus morph - note it seems the 'robust' and 'gracile' forms are extremes of anatomical variation rather than distinct categories. My goal here was to make the animal look big and heavy - appreciating that tyrants are relatively long-legged and gracile for their size, they're still absolutely huge. I thought of bears a lot when painting this chap - I wanted him to have that same imposing aspect without going all 'awesomebro' on it. Tyrannosaurs - especially big ones - should look like animals you'd instinctively keep a good distance from.

OK, that's all for now. Soon, hopefully, some details on that project alluded to above. 


  1. Excellent paintings! I love your depiction of tyrannosaurids, My gut feelings tells me this is just a very "right" look for them. I've got two questions.

    Do you think dinosaur predators were likely more camoflaged then other types? What about the very large predators?

    Do you think they liked honey? :) Might this be the only non-meat food which these predators enjoyed?

    1. They are after bee larvae, not honey.

    2. Predatory dinosaurs would have had to have camouflage. Even the big ones would have been able to hide.

    3. Predatory dinosaurs would have had to have camouflage. Even the big ones would have been able to hide.

  2. Mike from Ottawa24 July 2015 at 13:52

    I wonder if those young Tyrannosaurs were going for the honey or were they after the bees and their larvae and the honey a side benefit.

  3. What's up with rough copulatory behaviour anyway? Injuring a female you've hopefully just impregnated seems fairly obviously maladaptive.

    1. Sharks and mustelids do it all the time.

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