This is the first in a series of pieces I'm doing.
"Ocean Invasion #1: Octopus arborealus"
Click for larger. NOTE: actual resolution quality of the piece is MUCH higher than these compressed jpeg images.
I was asked by another artist whether my inspiration was the "Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus" campaign. Honestly, I actually had never heard of such a thing, and was a wee bit disappointed to learn of it's existence Then again, a tree octopus is too cool an idea for to have not already been thought of.
I know of at least a couple of people who were curious how I went about making my latest art, "K-T." Here is an abbreviated walkthrough...
First came the idea. I've had the general idea of the composition in my head sometime: a view from a mammal ancestor's burrow of the distant K-T meteor.
When I decided to actually make it with the free and open-source Blender and GIMP, I first made a very quick (like 5 minute) sketch of my idea layout (Note: You can click on all images for larger versions):
Next up: modeling the creatures. All objects are modeled as a 3D mesh, working with them and sculpting them at times much like clay - except it's all in the computer.
Next up comes the coloring, texturing, and addition of fur.
In reality, the coloring and texturing is done on 2D images (using the free photoshop-like GIMP), which are then mapped onto the 3D mesh:
Next up: a poseable armature has to be made and applied to the 3D mesh. Think of this as an actual skeleton that the mesh will deform with.
The armature has to be tested with lots of poses to make sure the mesh warps correctly.
Rinse and repeat for the other objects:
Now start putting objects into the scene:
And finally we have everything in place
At this point alot of time is put into positioning lights and tweaking textures so that everything looks good. Lighting is probably the hardest thing to get right (especially with fur).
Finally, the image is rendered and the image levels and coloring and effects are tweaked using GIMP.
Note: you can get a super high-res large poster of this artwork here.
All in all, the entire process took 3 weeks. I could have easily spent another 3 weeks tweaking and fixing many aspects of the piece and adding more details, but I was pretty much ready to move on to something else. So, I got it to the point where I was happy with it as is.
I hope you enjoyed it!
Okay - so I've been "away" for a while. What can I say? I've been busy with other things.
However, one of them is now complete. I present for your viewing pleasure, my new paleontology-inspired artwork:
Note: The poster is MUCH larger and higher resolution (these web images don't do justice to the actual level of detail). I can make other sizes available (or on other products). This took me three weeks to create, using the free and opensource Blender and GIMP software packages.
Welcome to the Carnival of Evolution #18!
First off - big news here at the Carnival. As you can see, my edition is late again. I can't seem to find the time to keep up online anymore (thanks alot starfish gene cloning). Thus it is with both disappointment and excitement that I am turning over administration of this carnival to Bjørn Østman of Pleiotropy. Bjørn has been a constant contributor to the CoE, and in his own last edition, he really rallied the troops and put out a great edition. He has shown such a constant passion for the subject that I have every confidence that the Carnival of Evolution will be much better in his hands than my own.
Now, all that being said, on with the show...
Research Blogging *or Literature Blogging
See - this is why I chose Bjørn to be the new organizer of this here carnival:
Bjørn Østman presents B:III evidence for evolution (which is just a theory) posted at Pleiotropy, in which he presents a Florida opthimologist's ridiculous take on why evolution is not a fact. Bjørn's funny summary of the guy's publication:
"Here's an outline of his letter:
- Darwin quote-mining.
- Probabilities, neglecting selection, assuming the eye is an accident.
- "Consider that the eye..." is really complex.
- "And where did X come from?" (Here, X = the chiasm.)
- Haeckel's drawings.
- An analysis of rhodopsin molecule’s homology
- The fruit fly is still a fruit fly."
- More Darwin quote-mining.
Zen Faulkes presents Extinction through fornication posted at NeuroDojo. Remember that classic case of sympatric speciation from college bio courses (yes I'm dating myself, here)? You know...the sticklebacks that were separating into benthic and pelagic forms? Well, apparently they're back together as one happy thriving population, and it is perhaps due to the reintroduction of crayfish ("crawdads" for my fellow redneck southerners). A must read article.
Zen Faulkes presents Let your neurons relax, the predators are gone! posted at NeuroDojo, in which he discusses a recent paper testing the hypothesis that crickets living without bat predators will lose sensitivity in neurons primarily dedicated to detecting bats.
Shuna Gould presents Endosymbiosis - a big tangled mess of algae posted at Lab Rat. "Post on the symbiotic theory and the evolution of plastids, in particular how comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of diatoms and other protists has raised questions about the origin of chromalveolate symbionts" This post also talks about another favorite topic of mine right now: Horizontal Gene Transfer.
Dan presents Creationists and Birding posted at Migrations. In his own words: "I use the question of 'Can creationists appreciate the birds as much as evolutionists' to explain the phenomenon of speciation from an ornithological standpoint." I personally, found this to be a much more interesting read than I first expected from the title. There's a good bit of history of evolutionary thinking in here, as well as a succinct answer to the posited question - one that any evolutionary biologist can hopefully predict.
Johnny presents Venomous Fables and Phenotypic Variations at the Molecular Level posted at Ecographica. I found this to be a truly entertaining post - not many could so easily wrap up thoughts on Heroditus' war writings, an Aesop's fable, discussion of the toxic cocktail in pygmy rattlesnake venom, and evolution all in one nice little package! As a timber rattlesnake researcher in my ancient past, I always hold such conversations a special place in my heart...
Surbhi Bhatia presents Eve is the Natural Ruler: Adam on verge of Extinction posted at The Viewspaper - an interesting discussion on the hypothesis that in 5 million years, the Y chromosome will disappear. I definitely learned a thing or two in this post, though I think the conclusion is presented a bit more foregone than should be.
John Suter presents Arachnid Lungs Evolved From Horseshoe Crabs posted at Kind of Curious. A short lesson on arachnid lung evolution, with discussion of a TV series I am also watching right now: Sir David Attenborough's "Life in the Undergrowth."
"Any observer of nature will have noticed that many of the males are so colorfully “dressed” they seem ready to enter a gay pride parade."
That concludes this edition. CoE#19 will be hosted by the always superb and funny writer (and my friend) Christie Lynn at Observations of a Nerd.
*image credit: Stickleback picture by user SuperIDR on Flickr, and used under a Creative Commons license.
(Note: As always, click image for better versions - these are heavily compressed)
Emerald Isle, NC
Last weekend we had a short but nice going away get-away with some friends (psychology graduate students, a parole officer, and a lawyer/rockstar) in Emerald Isle, North Carolina.
My dorky goal was to find more fossilized shark teeth (see previous awesome finds here), in addition to the obvious general goal of having a salty time.
Unfortunately, a storm kept most of the cool ocean debris from washing ashore until Sunday morning. Nevertheless, I found quite a few interesting things.
First off: fossil shark teeth!
Skate Egg Case:
Unknown wicked fish jaw:
Shell Fossils in matrix:
A cool fossil of what I think is a bryozoan.
I found a nice piece of fossilized bone. Of what? Who knows? Probably whale or dolphin. Or perhaps mermaid.
I also found several chunks of what I believe is either anthracite coal, or the next metamorphic step - graphite (I'm no geologist - thoughts?). It's very light weight, very hard, and very faceted - which doesn't come across very well in still shots:
One of the coolest things I found is a relation to organisms I will soon be working with in my new lab: starfish!!
I found two of these, both beautifully colored and still alive. They were washed ashore by the storm, so I tossed em back. I have no idea the likelihood of their survival, but I can say they didn't wash back ashore over the next two days. (I'm awaiting the expertise of Christopher Mah of the Echinoblog for species identification).
Update: it's a Royal Sea Star, articulatus. Quoth the EchinoMaster: "Basically..they are your stereotypical "sand star" predatory on infaunal bivalves and pretty common on sandy-muddy bottoms of the Northeast US. Attractively colored animals to be sure!" Thanks Chris!
We also got to hit the NC Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores. It's a pretty rad place, so I was way more interested in pointing my eyes at all the ocean wonders, rather than pointing a camera. But I did get this cool shot of a gator.
Ooh - and apparently someone else took a shot of us there - me and John playing with the rays (the ray touch tank was by far the coolest part!).
Topsail Island, NC
A month ago, we also had the opportunity to hit Topsail Island, NC.
Fun was had. Things were seen.
Shark Teeth (Yes - I showed these before).
Mole Crabs (Emerita sp.)
Ghost Crab (Ocypode sp.)
And that's it - images are all I have for you at the moment. Enjoy.
I swear, I will have slightly more posts once I get moved to Pittsburgh and settled.
And just because I never show her (she's camera shy), I'm sneaking in this shot of my wife: