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Creator of "Dinotopia"! This daily weblog by James Gurney is for illustrators, comic artists, plein-air painters, sketchers, animators, art students, and writers.
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1. Dinotopia Exhibition coming to Connecticut




Next month, the Stamford Museum and Nature Center will host a major Dinotopia exhibition.



There will be over 50 original paintings from several of the books, including Dinosaur Parade, Waterfall City, and Dinosaur Boulevard. The artwork is completely different from the Lyman Allyn show a few years ago.
The show will also include preliminary sketches, reference maquettes, and several dinosaur fossils.
I will be in attendance for a few special events:

Farm to Table Supper with Chef Tim LaBant
Saturday February 28, 2015 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Enjoy a casual, rustic winter supper in the warmth of the Bendel Mansion featuring Tim LaBant, Owner/Chef of the Schoolhouse at Cannondale. Guests will begin with cocktails and artisanal hors d’oeuvres in the Museum Galleries with artist James Gurney who will provide a tour of the Dinotopia galleries, with stories behind the paintings. Here's the link for tickets.

Fantasy Drawing Workshop with James Gurney
Sunday, March 1, 2015, 1:00-3:00
Leonhardt Gallery in the Stamford Museum

James Gurney will present a digital slide program and a hands-on drawing workshop for artists of all levels of experience. Gurney will demonstrate the water-soluble colored pencil techniques he uses for many of his observational and imaginative sketches. Participants will get a chance to try out the watercolor pencils as they draw dinosaur models and still life objects. The workshop will take place in one of the exhibition galleries. Materials will be provided. The class size is extremely limited. Link for more info.

Book signing and public presentation
Sunday, March 1, 2015, 3:30-4:30
Leonhardt Gallery in the Stamford Museum

After the private workshop, all museum guests are invited to meet the author/artist. Mr. Gurney will offer a mini-lecture about the making of Dinotopia, followed by a book signing. Copies of Gurney's Dinotopia editions and art instruction books Imaginative Realism and Color and Light will be available at the gift shop.
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Stamford Museum and Nature Center
Farm to table sign-up


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2. Book Review: Goodbye Old Man


In the spring of 1915, Fortunino Matania traveled to the front lines of the Great War to research his illustrations for the British illustrated journal The Sphere. 

Neuve Chapelle, 1915, by Fortunino Matania, Royal Worcestershire Regiment Museum
He sketched the positions of the dead and the the layout of the defenses, reconstructing the battle that had just taken place. But the battlefield was still hot, and his attempts to sketch were interrupted by machine gun fire. Ducking into a trench, he bobbed his head up for a few seconds to take in the view of the nearby village and the debris—a battered teakettle, a discarded bottle, and a sardine can.

A shell exploded just five yards away, covering him and his sketchbook with dirt. He escaped to the relative safety of a field hospital, where he interviewed survivors. Returning to his studio in England, he dug a trench in his own garden to reconstruct the scene in real life, where he could study the effects in safety.


This story is just one of many contained in a new book called Goodbye, Old Man: Matania's Vision of the First World War about the Italian-born illustrator Fortunino Matania (1881-1963). The title is a reference to his most famous image, showing a soldier saying farewell to his dying horse as his buddies urge him on.

The book is softcover, 6 3/4 x 7 1/2 inches with over 100 illustrations, more than 30 of which are in color. The images are reproduced both from original art and from tearsheets. Because of the petite size of the book, the illustrations are unfortunately disappointingly small, but they're well captioned, and larger files can often be found online. List price is U.S. $18.95, but it can be found on Amazon for less than $15.00. 

The book does much to fill the gap in published information about this underappreciated artist whom I've written about many times before on this blog. It's an especially good resource for anyone interested in the documentation of World War I. I hope that someone will produce another book covering his vast output of historical illustrations after the war.


Book: Goodbye, Old Man: Matania's Vision of the First World War by Lucinda Gosling
Previous GJ posts on Matania

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3. Nerdtopia



The TV reality show King of the Nerds asked permission to include a print of Dinotopia's Waterfall City in the set, called "Nerdvana." This is the third season of the program, which premiered last Friday night on TBS.

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4. Dinotopia Podcast Episode 12

The final episode of the Dinotopia Podcast has arrived. You can listen by clicking on the Soundcloud play button below, or by following this direct link.




The beginning of the episode finds Will and Sylvia in their crashed airship near Sauropolis.


Preparations are underway for a big springtime parade.


Will pilots a skybax to meet up with Arthur, who hints at marvelous discoveries in The World Beneath. We'll begin that podcast next week.

The Podcast Series
This acoustic adventure was produced by Tom Lopez of the ZBS Foundation, with an original music track by composer Tim Clark.
Each 10-minute episode will only be live online for one week, and then it will disappear.

If you'd like to purchase the full two-hour Dinotopia podcast right now and hear all twelve episodes back to back in a feature-length production, check out Dinotopia at ZBS Foundation website for the MP3 download.
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You can also order the original book from my web store and I'll sign it for you.  (Ships via Media Mail within 24 hours of your order. US orders only for the book, please). The Dinotopia book is also available from Amazon.
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There will be an exhibit of Dinotopia originals at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center in Connecticut from February 14 - May 25, 2015. I'll be giving an illustrated lecture there on Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 1:00.

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5. Botched Restorations


When workers in Egypt were changing a lightbulb in a display case, they accidentally broke off the beard of King Tut.


 Then, when they glued it back on, they smeared a big blob of epoxy on the gold leaf. But that's not the only botched restoration job. The Telegraph mentions a few other notable cases.


Cecilia Gimenez's restoration of Ecce Homo

Yunjie Temple before and after.

The bungled nose job on Supper at Emmaus by Veronese (from the Guardian)

Read more: "King Tut's broken beard and other art disasters" at The Telegraph

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6. Interview with Grammarly


I recently received an offer to try out the grammar correction program called Grammarly. On their website, Grammarly claims to make you a better writer by finding and correcting grammatical mistakes.

I downloaded the software and tried it out, but instead of reviewing it, I thought it would be interesting to interview a representative of the company by email. Mr. Mager, an online marketing analyst, agreed to my request. Before he sent his answers, he said he checked them with a colleague to verify that they were accurate.

JG: Would you briefly describe how Grammarly is different from other grammar-checking programs?

Grammarly offers automated grammar, spelling, and plagiarism checking. Its technology catches 10x more mistakes than Microsoft Word, while also offering unique features such as writing enhancement and citation suggestions. Grammarly regularly conducts tests to compare our algorithms against our competitors including Google. Our continuously improving machine learning algorithm always wins. A more recent defining element of Grammarly is its Chrome extension that will soon be available for Firefox and Safari later this year. The extension allows our users to have a grammar checker wherever they go on the internet from their emails to Facebook comments.

JG: Do you recommend a different prose style for print settings than you do for online settings?
Our linguists approach Grammarly with a classical, academic approach. We realize that context is vital to proper communication. A properly written sentence or paragraph can make the difference in receiving a passing or failing grade, job offer, or a good story. When writing with Grammarly, we offer seven categories and 32 different document types that range from short stories to business emails. With each document type, Grammarly applies different grammar rules and suggestions.

JG: How does the reading experience differ when we read text on a computer screen?
Last year, the Grammarly team ran a survey to get more information about this topic from our community of word nerds about their reading habits. We found that out of 6,744 responses, 79% preferred to read printed books versus e-books. Another survey showed that of 1,929 responses 39% would prefer their children read printed books while 11% preferred e-books and 34% of respondents simply wanted their kids to read! It is clear that there is a more positive experience with holding a paper book than looking at a screen.

JG: Should those differences change the way we think about writing for the computer?

The most important thing, about writing for the computer or print, is that we write with clarity and creativity. If readers can’t understand what we are writing, then our message is lost on them - no matter what we’re saying. What I have personally noticed is that writing in print is often more formal than online writing and written in long form. Online writing tends to be more succinct, with more paragraphs and bullets to break up thoughts. This is likely due to our shorter digital attention spans.


JG: I allowed Grammarly to evaluate the first paragraphs from Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer. According to Grammarly, each of them has issues with wordiness. Is that a false positive, a change in historical standards or a valid objection to their style?

Grammarly is not meant to critique works of art or classic literature. It is built around a powerful and an ever-evolving algorithm designed to provide students, professionals, and advanced language learners with an automated, cost-effective, accurate, and always-available online tool to help improve their written English skills. Through contextual guidance, users are empowered to make the final assessment of whether the feedback they’ve received fits the material being reviewed, enabling them to learn from their mistakes.

JG: How has using Grammarly changed your personal experience as a writer?
For me, Grammarly serves as an extra pair of eyes on my work. It keeps me aware of some common issues that I have with my writing and explains the grammar rules that I miss. This feedback has been helpful with the accuracy of my writing even when Grammarly isn’t available. I find when I write to my boss, family, or friends I can have more confidence and credibility behind my message.

JG: Given that you work at a web company that ferrets out mistakes in writing, do you find that your friends and family give you a hard time every time you make a mistake?
Yes! So much so, in fact, that one of us wrote a blog post about it: http://www.grammarly.com/blog/2014/email-presents-major-challenge/

I appreciate the challenge though. My writing wasn’t the best in school so as I pay more attention to how I speak and write, I see my communication improving every day.

JG: Forgive me, but you did make an error in your cover letter to me, saying, “stuck a chord” rather than “struck a chord.” That’s a hard one to catch given that you spelled each phrase correctly, and it was grammatical. Would Grammarly be able to find such a mistake if it used the kind of statistical algorithms that Google uses when it prompts alternate search phrasing?

Grammarly is able to pick up “stuck and struck” a chord and other contextual errors such as “there, their, they’re”, however we are still adding to the contexts that they can be found in. Our program is constantly learning, similar to the way Google uses its statistical algorithms, and while Grammarly is not yet perfect, we are still the leader in writing enhancement software.

JG: What thinking did you give to the manner in which Grammarly points out issues to the writer? I notice that it has a polite and helpful demeanor. If you had designed it differently, it might have appeared obnoxious or pedantic. What thinking went into that interface?

Grammar rules can be confusing to many people and are constantly evolving. Grammarly was created to provide an easy way for students, professionals, job seekers, and English language learners to become better, more accurate English language writers and help them learn and understand the rules of grammar. We’re not here as a grammar judge; rather, we want to be a resource. Our world-class designers and UX experts have played a big role in this as they obsess over every detail to create an easy, understandable interface for our users.

JG: What happens behind the scenes when the little Grammarly logo starts spinning around? Is the text being uploaded to your computers? Do you keep a copy of the writing? Do you ever share it with anyone else?

Our policy agreement provides detailed information about how Grammarly stores text, but I can tell you that we never share any writer's text publically. Behind the scenes, Grammarly's learning algorithms are constantly reviewing whether our tool is being applied in the right context or not -- that is how we can make continuous improvements.

JG: Do you worry that the reliance on machine-based spell-check or grammar-check programs will blunt the attention that you devote to your writing or that it might sand off the corners of your personal style? (Grammarly didn't like me using the word "sand".)

Nice imagery. No, the great thing about Grammarly is that it was developed alongside English professors to be a passive learning tool. For each potential issue flagged by Grammarly’s algorithms, users receive a detailed explanation so they can make an informed decision about how, and whether, to correct the mistake. Our positive reviews from professional writers really speak for itself.

JG: How would you envision Grammarly five years from now? Please describe the kind of writing partner you’d like to see it become.

Grammarly’s core mission is improving lives by improving communication, and there is a lot in store over the next few years. One part of this is improving Grammarly’s algorithms to the level of a human proofreader. Every day, we get a little closer to that goal. The other part is integrating Grammarly more into people’s lives. This new plugin we recently launched for Chrome, and soon other browsers, is a big step to bringing our advanced grammar checker to where a majority of the world writes most. It is an exciting time to be here!
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7. Mikhail Ryasnyansky (1926-2003)



Mikhail Ryasnyansky (1926-2003) was a painter from Ukraine. He fought in World War II but was discharged in connection with serious injuries and a concussion.

Ryasnyansky's first name is written either Mihail, Mikhail or Michael. 

He studied under Tetyana Yablonska. Later he taught at the Kiev Art Institute. 

His portraits have simple backgrounds and a controlled focus on the face and hands, with other areas handled more softly and broadly. 

His drawings are soulful, with a keen sense of tonal values.

He was an avid outdoor painter, and his on-the-spot landscapes are painted with bold colors and thick paint. 

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8. Animated Sand Toys and Music Boxes

Here's a short video that I made to spotlight the wonderful sand toys and music boxes created by Mel and Eunice Birnkrant. (Direct link to video)


These primitive automata are inspired by the artwork of Victorian toy theaters. The figures are cut out of paperboard sheets and arranged in a tiny stage, complete with curtain and audience. Mel took the idea to the next step and invented the mechanisms needed to make them come to life.
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More about Mel Birnkrant, toy inventor and collector

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9. Dreamworks to Close its Northern California Animation Studio

From Cartoon Brew: "DreamWorks just announced to it staff that it will shut down one of its main studios, PDI DreamWorks, in Redwood City, California. The closing of that studio will begin immediately. The beleaguered animation studio also announced that 500 jobs will be eliminated, far more than the previously expected number of layoffs. The studio is cutting back its slate to two DreamWorks-produced films per year: one original film and one sequel."

Sympathies to all, and best wishes getting everything back on track.

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10. Julius Kronberg, Swedish Academian




Speaking of Swedish painters, blog reader Staffan Alsparr shared some information about Julius Kronberg (1850-1921): "I thought he might be an artist that you haven't heard of before, which isn't strange at all, he is very unknown here as well."

Kronberg, Portrait of Artur Hazelius, 1910
Mr. Alsparr continues: "The two Swedish artists that most people do know are Anders Zorn and Carl Larsson. Kronberg was contemporary to them, although he followed a more academic path, and was very popular in his time, but largely forgotten today, like many of the academicians."

Julius Kronberg, David och Saul, 1885

Julius Kronberg and his daughter, with charcoal preliminary for a mural
Maquettes by Julius Kronberg
"I thought you might find his work interesting since he worked with imaginative subjects and built his own models, props and maquettes to aid him in this, just like many others and like you've written about in Imaginative Realism." 

Julius Kronberg Queen of Sheba
"His studio is now also part of Skansen, an outdoor museum in Stockholm, and it is open to the public but only a few weeks a year." 

Thanks, Staffan.


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11. Anders Zorn's "Une première"


The painting "Une première" was one of Anders Zorn's first experiments portraying nude models in the open air. He was fascinated by the waves, the water reflections, the shifting weight, and the colors of the flesh as the woman and child wade into the shallow water.

Anders Zorn, Une première, gouache, 1888, 76x56 cm,
(29.92 in x 22.05 in), at the Nationalmuseum, Blasieholmen, Stockholm.
Zorn said, "My model was in Stockholm staying at a shoemaker's family with many children when I came along and asked to borrow a boy. The shoemaker had nothing against being rid of one for a while. The boy that suited me was sickly and close to death anyway. But what an effect fresh air had on a naked body. A couple of weeks later, I returned the boy and he was so healthy and rosy-checked that his parents hardly recognized him."

The original version of this gouache painting won a medal, but Zorn decided to rework it. He became so dissatisfied with the outcome that he angrily folded it and hacked it to pieces. A fellow artist, Christian Eriksson, gathered the fragments and put them back together. It is now considered a masterwork of figure painting.
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Books: 


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12. Dinotopia Podcast, Episode 11

Episode 11 of the Dinotopia Podcast is here. You can listen by clicking on the Soundcloud play button below, or by following this link.



Levka Gambo shows Will a map of the caverns below Dinotopia, where is father is exploring.

Then a sky galley arrives and takes them on a wild ride.

The Podcast Series
This acoustic adventure was produced by Tom Lopez of the ZBS Foundation, with an original music track by composer Tim Clark.

The final episode, #12 arrives in a week. Each 10-minute episode will only be live online for one week, and then it will disappear.

If you'd like to purchase the full two-hour Dinotopia podcast right now and hear all twelve episodes back to back in a feature-length production, check out Dinotopia at ZBS Foundation website for the MP3 download.
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You can also order the original book from my web store and I'll sign it for you.  It's a great New Year's gift for the imaginative person in your life. (Ships via Media Mail within 24 hours of your order. US orders only for the book, please). The Dinotopia book is also available from Amazon.
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There will be an exhibit of Dinotopia originals at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center in Connecticut from February 14 - May 25, 2015. I'll be giving an illustrated lecture there on Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 1:00.

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13. Oregon Ducks fans reject mascot redesign

The University of Oregon decided that their cute duck mascot named "Puddles" (left) needed to be redesigned to look more cool and athletic.

Gone were the googly eyes and the pot belly. The new duck was more muscular, with reptilian scales and a streamlined head that resembled a biker's helmet. The official name of the rebranded character was "Mandrake," but everyone called him "Roboduck."

But Roboduck didn't charm the fans. He scared kids, and people started pushing him around. So they retired Roboduck and quietly went back to Puddles.
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Wall Street Journal: "Fans Found University of Oregon’s Muscular Mascot a Lame Duck."

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14. Stylistic Evolution

Early and late work by artists who went through a Modernist style shift.

Klimt
Gustav Klimt, Sitzendes junges Mädchen 1894
Gustav Klimt, The Kiss, 1908-1909
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Mondrian
Piet Mondrian, Fen Near Saasveld 1907
Piet Mondrian, Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow, 1930
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Kupka
František Kupka, Papal Ceremony, 1904.
František Kupka, Katedrála, 1912-1913
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Disney
Walt Disney Studios, Snow White, 1937
Walt Disney Studios, Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom, 1953
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Tenggren
Gustaf Tenggren, Juan and Juanita, 1926
Gustaf Tenggren Arabian Nights

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15. Studio Tips

A couple of GurneyJourney blog readers shared some studio tips:


Doug Goodale says: "I recently built a lightweight sketch easel according to your specs and added some Velcro strips so it could hold a 1/4 sheet of watercolour paper. I had a plastic palette, so glued some rare earth magnets on the mixing surface to affix it to the easel."

Lawrence Roibal says: "Having had the privilege of being in the presence of the great Steve Assael painting from life, I witnessed how he utilizes the theory of the parallel palette without the expense. He would just fashion a makeshift palette right on his painting surface or utilize a clamp, and a simple masonite palette."
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Thanks, Doug and Larry

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16. How to Video Your Art: Microphones / Recorders


Four recommended microphones / recorders: MXL TempoZoom H1Zoom H2n, a Lavalier Microphone
The current issue of International Artist magazine published Part 2 of my series on How to Video Your Art. In this post, I want to discuss how to get good audio.

Audio is the most common flaw in art videos. It’s usually caused by trying to record a voice with an onboard camera microphone that’s too far away from the person who is speaking. It’s fairly easy and cheap to overcome this problem. Good audio will do more to make your videos appear professional than anything else.

When I’m making an outdoor video, I like to record a few introductory comments on location before I start the painting. Later, I record a voiceover in the studio over the final edit. In the voiceover, I speak in present tense, as if it's happening now. This makes the voiceover blend in with the field-recorded voice audio.

Hearing the voiceover is as important as seeing the paint strokes, because it allows viewers to get inside your mind as you’re making painting decisions. Doing the voiceover after the fact makes the painting process much easier for me because I don't have to talk while I'm painting, and it makes the editing much easier, too.

In the photo above are four recommended microphones / recorders.

MXL Tempo Microphone
This microphone is specialized for voice and for studio settings. It has a USB connector that plugs into the computer. It makes recording voiceover in post production much easier because you can record directly into the editing timeline and do as many retakes as you want. It's a bit bulky and fragile to take on location, and it takes a while to set up, but it gets excellent sound quality. You can also use it for music performance, podcasts, Skype, etc. 

Zoom H1 Recorder
This small portable digital recorder captures high-quality digital audio to supplement the audio captured by the cameras. It records in stereo in WAV or MP3 files, and has a lo-cut filter. You can select either manual level control or automatic gain control. It's small enough to fit in a pocket or carry on a belt. It’s also useful for recording audio clips from interview subjects. Wind noise is a persistent menace when recording audio outdoors, The best defense is a furry microphone cover called a deadcat windscreen. These windscreens are available commercially, or you can knit your own from novelty yarn.

Zoom H2n Handy Recorder
For around $159.00, less than the price of the two previous items, you can get one device that works as both a USB-microphone and a recorder. Through a USB cable, you can attach it to the computer and use it as a voiceover mic. As a recorder, it has far more features, and an easier set of controls than the Zoom H1. The five microphone elements can be selected in four different field patterns to get a surround effect, a mid-side field or a conventional stereo effect. The manual gain setting uses an old fashioned wheel, rather than a push-button interface, which makes it much easier to use. It runs on two AA batteries (I use rechargeable NimH) and records onto an SD card for many hours of audio.

Audio-Technica Lavalier Microphone
If your video camera has an input for an external microphone, you can use a lavalier microphone. The small mic clips to your shirt beneath your chin. It captures very good audio, especially with the Canon VIXIA camcorders that I use (more in the post Camera Guide). At less than $30.00, wired lav mics cost far less than the wireless models, and they’re less prone to electronic interference. When you don’t need the lav mic for voice, you can clip it to the canvas or sketchbook to capture the contact noise of the pencil or the brush.
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My article "How to Video Your Art" is in the February/March issue of International Artist magazine. It also covers editing, time lapse, music, and distribution.

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17. Knitted Beards on Babies


It keeps their faces warm. And gives them an air of authority.
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From Ravelry, by Ashlee Prisbrey, Megan Graddy and Kylie Marie Brown.

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18. MovieBarCode


The blog MovieBarCode compresses the colors of an entire film into a single line.


At a glance, you can see how the film travels from one color to another as it moves from scene to scene. Animated films are especially deliberate about color scripting. The Disney animated film Aladdin has a lot of red and purple


Pixar's Finding Nemo alternates highly saturated colors with neutrals. There are three blue open-ocean sequences in the middle section of the film, framed by very dark passages.

Blue Sky's Ice Age varies in saturation, hue, and value from sequence to sequence.

MovieBarCode on Tumblr  (You can search a particular film in the alphabetical index)
MovieBarCode Generator 
More examples on CartoonBrew
Previously Color Scripting

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19. January 7, 2015


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20. Line of Action in Art


The "line of action" is a simple, usually curving, line that travels through all the forms of a pose. A Disney animator, possibly Bill Tytla or Art Babbitt, used an S-shaped line passing through the pose of this character model drawing of Geppetto from Disney's Pinocchio.

Other artists have applied the principle, including the cartoonist T. S. Sullivant (1854-1926), who was a big influence on the Disney animators.

Here's another example from a Victorian painter, Herbert Draper (1863-1920), in his canvas "Flying Fish."

Feel free to leave links of other examples in the comments.
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More in the books:

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21. Parallel Palette on Kickstarter

Painting in oil from observation is a lot easier if the painting surface is next to the line of sight, and roughly the same visual size.


It makes life easier still if the palette is adjacent to the painting surface and if it's more or less parallel to it. The adjacent position reduces the amount of wasted effort between mixing a stroke and applying it, and the parallelism ensures that a mixture of color on the palette matches a corresponding stroke on the painting.

I prefer to have the palette on a hinged surface directly below the painting. I often tilt the palette up a few degrees so that it's perpendicular to my line of sight, and also to reduce the tendency of some paint to run or drip. The Open Box M pochade easel that I'm using allows for that configuration. I use white freezer paper (polyethylene coating) for my mixing surface, which makes for easy cleanup.


Over the years, portrait painter David Kassan has been developing what he calls a "Parallel Palette" which sets up next to his easel on its own tripod. He has been refining the design and, together with a partner, has just launched a version on Kickstarter.

Here's Max Ginsburg using a prototype. The palette attaches to its own separate support, not necessarily to the easel directly. It has rubber bumpers on the back so that you can set it down horizontally on a taboret.

I have not seen or tried out the product, but here's my take on it based on the Kickstarter pitch. The gray plastic box has a rather small mixing area in the center. Following the rule of thumb that the mixing surface should be no smaller than 25% of the size of the painting, I wouldn't recommend this palette for any painting larger than 12 x 16 inches. 

The mixing surface is covered with a clear plastic panel that can be removed for cleaning—as long as you clean it before the paint dries. Because of oil paint's powerful adhesion to plastic, I would imagine that it's a lot harder to clean than glass would be because it can't be scraped with a razor blade. 

On the upper area and sides are gray areas with shallow ledges that are supposed to reduce the dripping paint. But some paint is very oily and will inevitably drip on any steep slope. Even with those ridges, I would expect that some paint or oil will get into those slots that hold in the mixing surface. So it would be wise to squeeze out any oily paint first on an absorbent surface to extract the excess oil.

In the bottom section are four elastic bands designed to hold rectangular mixing cups; I don't know if those cups are included. Below that is a narrow shelf to hold an extra paint brush or two. To hold more brushes, most painters use a more substantial brush tray or folding brush holder. What I do sometimes is drill graduated holes in a horizontal panel to hold unused brushes. 

A clear plastic lid fits over the whole thing, so that you can safely carry the wet paint around or pop it in the freezer overnight.

Again, I haven't tried one out — so this isn't a review, just some comments based on what I've seen in the marketing materials, and I wish the Daves all the best.

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22. Insect Vision

Thomas Shahan - Eye Arrangement of a Hogna Wolf Spider
What can insects and other arthropods see through their compound eyes?

Quick answer: they can see definite, resolved images. Some compound eyes yield a single erect image and others produce multiple inverted images. Those images are lower resolution than the images we see with our single-lens vertebrate eye. Each optical cell in a compound eye can't form a very sharp image because the focal point always lies behind the retina.

But the view through compound eyes is not necessarily the low-resolution hexagonal pixels or the kaleidoscopic multiplication effect that we've often seen in cartoons.

Arthropod eyes have certain advantages over our vertebrate single-lens eyes. They have a wider angle of view, infinite depth of field, fewer aberrations, and extreme sensitivity to motion. Their visual system operates within a tiny package, sometimes smaller than the head of a pin.


Most arthropods have not only the more familiar compound eyes, but also other kinds of optical sensors distributed on their bodies. These sensors may be specialized for perceiving light levels, movement, polarized light, expanded color vision, dim illumination, or heat signatures.

Eye structures vary among arthropods, a group that includes insects, spiders, crustaceans, and horseshoe crabs, plus extinct trilobites.


Engineers are working on artificial vision systems that enjoy the benefits of arthropod eye systems. They have been experimenting with imaging technology that delivers a full hemispheric field of view, using sensors crammed with hundreds or even thousands of individual imaging elements.

Artificial eye by CURVACE: Curved Artificial Compound Eye
Wikipedia on compound eyes
Wikipedia arthropod eye

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23. Digital tool for analyzing color gamuts

Joost van Dongen, lead programmer and co-founder of Ronimo Games, wrote me to say that my book Color and Light inspired him to create a digital tool for analyzing color schemes.




When he developed the geometric racing game Proun (screenshots above), he was thinking about restricted color schemes, but his new tool let him see exactly what parts of the color spectrum were occupied by the colors he chose.

The blacked out areas of his diagrams represent the parts of the entire range of colors that are not included in a given color scheme.

He also used the tool to analyze screenshots from Awesomenauts (below), a game that his art team developed.

Looking at the gamut maps, he says: "the colour scheme is all over the place. It really is an explosion of colour, as is fitting for the over-the-top Eighties themes of Awesomenauts. Nevertheless you can see that even in the top image the colour scheme ignores large parts of the colour wheel, so even there the colour usage is limited."

He used the tool to analyze the color gamuts on other games, including Uncharted 3, Star Control II, and Far Cry 4, above. The first is a narrow complementary gamut, the second uses high chroma primaries without neutrals, and the third is clustered around a fairly muted gamut near the gray center of the spectrum. 

On his blog post, he shares a link to download the tool for free so that you can try it yourself. Thanks for sharing, Joost.
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24. Dinotopia Podcast Episode 10

Episode 10 of the Dinotopia Podcast is here. You can listen to the audio adventure by pressing the play button below, or by following this link to SoundCloud file.



After his father Arthur left to explore the system of caverns underground, Will Denison picks up the journal to describe his ascent into the mountains.



He and Sylvia meet Levka Gambo in the Tentpole of the Sky. 

I built this whole segment of the story around this painting, "Tentpole of the Sky," which I painted in 1989, before I came up with the idea of a dinosaur utopia.

The Podcast Series
This acoustic adventure was produced by Tom Lopez of the ZBS Foundation, with an original music track by composer Tim Clark.

Episode 11 arrives in a week. Each 10-minute episode will only be live online for one week, and then it will disappear.

If you'd like to purchase the full two-hour Dinotopia podcast right now and hear all twelve episodes back to back in a feature-length production, check out Dinotopia at ZBS Foundation website for the MP3 download.
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You can also order the original book from my web store and I'll sign it for you.  It's a great New Year's gift for the imaginative person in your life. (Ships via Media Mail within 24 hours of your order. US orders only for the book, please). The Dinotopia book is also available from Amazon.
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There will be an exhibit of Dinotopia originals at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center in Connecticut from February 14 - May 25, 2015. I'll be giving an illustrated lecture there on Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 1:00 (Note that the date is different from what we first announced.)

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25. Manfred Schatz — Wildlife in Action


Manfred Schatz (1925-2004) was a wildlife artist who captured the energy and movement of living animals.

He developed a distinctive motion-blur effect in his oil paintings, using large fan brushes to soften edges in the direction of movement. The wings of these flying ducks are nearly lost, and the water is suggested with a few deft strokes.

Manfred Schatz, From the Shadows 
Manfred Schatz was born in 1925 in Stettin, Germany, and attended the Academy of Arts in Berlin before the age of 18. He was unable to escape the war and was drafted in the German army, fighting on the Russian front. 

He was taken prisoner in Russia and spent more than four years in a prison camp. He suffered from exhaustion, tuberculosis, and near starvation. After he was set free, he recuperated at a hunting preserve with his brother, a game warden. 

There he fell in love with nature and with observing the movement of animals. Though it may appear he was influenced by studying photographic effects, he primarily relied on his knowledge, memory, and imagination to convey fleeting impressions of the human observer.
  
According to one biographer, he was "unhindered by the use of technical equipment like cameras, which Schatz believed would only impede his true viewing of wild creatures." He started exhibiting in 1953, and by the 1960s, his work began to win international awards.

He said that his greatest influences were Anders Zorn and Bruno Liljefors. 

You can find the work of Manfred Schatz in some public collections, including the Genesee Country Museum in Mumford, New York, the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin, and the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming.
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Book on Amazon: The Moving Art of Manfred Schatz
Prints by Manfred Schatz at National Wildlife Galleries and Art Barbarians Gallery
Previously on GurneyJourney: Motion Blur

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