Screenshot Saturday! New Rex: Artistry vs. Accuracy

By | July 16, 2016

I’m currently sculpting a new T-Rex. The first Rex I did, seen here, is my very first or second zbrush sculpt ever. Real-live is my first app ever. So, to see how far I’ve come in terms of artistry, I’m redoing the Tyrannosaurus. But how far am I willing to go in terms of accuracy?

Movie Monster or Big Bird?

Here you can see I’ve laid down the musculature using clay tubes with extreme prejudice. I like using clay tubes because it adds muscle-like striations. The striations will be toned down using the smooth brush. I’ll then selectively define some of the muscles using the standard brush for the peaks and a crease brush for the valleys. I hope to feature the process in upcoming vlogs.

But modeling a dinosaur pits artistry against accuracy. Which is more important? Popularity or plausibility?

I plan to create two varieties of the Rex: the movie monster version that most people are familiar with, and a more scientifically plausible version featuring feathers. Perhaps surprisingly, the once scientifically plausible variant has morphed into today’s movie monster version.

The original Jurassic Park was remarkably accurate for its time. Cutting-edge scientific discoveries and theories, such as the notion that birds descended from dinosaurs, featured prominently (Jurassic Park was even ahead of science at one point). Unfortunately the franchise has not kept up with the times. We now know that the link between bird and dinosaur is even stronger than previously thought; dinosaurs had protofeathers. The most recent ‘Park’s Dinos, however, still suffer from seemingly incurable baldness.

It seems a feathered, likable T-Rex is a hard target to hit. If it looks completely unrecognizable, it’s a problem. If it looks recognizable, but resembles something laughable, it’s even more of a problem. And there is the distinct possibility of a T. Rex creature creation looking like a muppet. When it comes to dinosaurs there seems to be an unfortunate, inverse correlation between scientific plausibility and likability.

The solution is to integrate respectable, recognizable visual cues into the design. I plan to borrow my cues from griffins (specifically, the one in The Last Guardian) and giant, flightless birds, both prehistoric and modern. It’s important to draw from the well of humanity’s collective consciousness. For the majority of people, a dinosaur is only acceptable if it’s recognizable.

I can mentally edit this into a T-Rex.

Check back here and in the vlogs on the Nickelcitypixels Youtube Channel. It will be interesting to see which version is more well-received, the movie monster or the big bird!


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