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Perna Studios’ ‘Spellcasters 2’ Sketchcard Set


Perna Studios’ ‘Spellcasters 2’ Sketchcard Set


As Perna Studios have started shipping out orders of Spellcasters 2, the artists are now allowed to reveal their contributions to the set. I always absolutely love working with Perna Studios. The subjects they deal with are always very fun and speak a lot to my own favourite subject matter, from Hallowe’en to Classic Fairy Tales and now enchanted creatures (which, as you know, I have a colouring book full of!). For this particular set, artists were asked to draw specifically examples of unicorns, faeries, mermaids, dragons and elves. I had so much fun working on different styles of unicorn and mermaid and may even consider a sketch book of mermaid designs in the future.

The mermaids I drew were lion fish, koi, octopus and flame angel inspired and I had so many more ideas that I would have liked to have played with. I also love my tropical zebra unicorn as I thought that would be a bit different and of course, the Hell/Demon-hybrid unicorn. I hope you like the cards. I contributed 20 to the set altogether, which you can see in the gallery below or on my portfolio page.




DC Justice League Approved Cards



DC Justice League Approved Cards


Only the other week I shared with you the preview that  George Nadeau posted of my upcoming contribution to the DC/Cryptozoic Sketchcard set Justice League. Well, I am happy to announce that not only did all of my cards get approved by DC and Cryptozoic, but I am now able to show you each and every one of them. The set is due for release in 4 weeks (June 29th) and features some absolutely amazing artists that I am very proud to be counted among. Thanks again to Cryptozoic for the opportunity and I cannot wait to work with you again.

You can see the full range of 56 (!) cards I contributed in my Portfollio here. But below are a few of my favourites. I also did a little rainbow theme of one of the most popular versions of the JL team. Who is your favourite?


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Chameleon Markers


I was sent a set of Chameleon Markers (22 Pen Set) in exchange for an honest review. Other pens and materials were also used to create the final image, these will be listed accordingly. You can find more about Chameleon Markers via www.chameleonpens.com


If you are artistically minded then chances are that you have heard of Chameleon Pens. With targeted advertising being the way it is on Instagram, Facebook and almost everywhere else, it was inevitable that I would be hankering after a set of these pens. For those of you who don’t know, Chameleon Pens are a new art innovation which claim to “create stunning 3D effects, smooth transitions, highlighting, shading, gradations and blending, ALL WITH ONE PEN!” Now, as I am sure any artist would attest, the idea of only using one pen to create a whole range of colours is an incredibly economical, useful and efficient innovation, that I for one was very excited to try out.

Before I begin to talk about the pens themselves, first allow me to talk about the packaging (because first impressions are important). The box itself is made of a sturdy black cardboard which I personally prefer to the usual plastic/acrylic pen boxes simply down to the fact that it will not crack during transport. As you know, I go to a lot of conventions and my plastic carry cases for other marker pens have seen some battering over the years which can often lead to nasty little plastic shards getting loose and occasionally scratching my bags interior (luckily I have not lost any artwork to them as yet). The case also works as a work station, with the lid folding underneath the box to allow the pens to lift off the desk and all lids/colours to be easily accessible. It also comes with an instruction manual teaching you some of the basic techniques and, of course, how to use the blending system, which is what we all came for.


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Using the pens may seem complicated at first, but once you get into the rhythm of placing the nib of the colour you have chosen into the mixing chamber and waiting for the toning medium to seep into the pen, it is just a case of rinse and repeat (or tone and repeat). This may seem like a bit of a chore, but when you count this against the amount of different pens you would have to de-cap use, cap, replace, in order to get the same effect, it works out to be much more time efficient than you would think (and even more so after practice I would imagine).

I decided to conduct my first run with the markers on a previously inked up sketch card of Glaceon from Pokemon (it being Pokemon’s 20th Birthday after all). This was inked up using Uni Pin Fine Liners on 3.5″ x 2.5″ Bristol card stock.


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I will not lie, the technique of shading from light to dark took a bit of getting used to. I generally work from dark to light when shading and tend to fill in my shadows first, so working in reverse was a bit of a learning curve. It also took me a while to get a steady and fluid gradient when working over larger areas, but this is down to my being unfamiliar with the technique than the pens themselves. Using only one pen (BL3 Sky Blue) I was able to get the wash you see above.


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After completing the initial wash of the torso, I went in with two more colours, BL6 Royal Blue and BG4 Aquamarine. I found working on the details a little more difficult due to the fact I was, again, adjusting to shading in a different direction. I am so used to directing my pen upwards (from dark to light) when I shade, that going from side to side with my pen to achieve a light-dark gradient was very strange. But, as you can see (while a bit haphazard due to it being my first run) the variations in tone are brilliant and would usually take the mixing of quite a few different pens with other alcohol based markers. I used the CB Colorless Blender to go in afterwards and clear up some of my more blotchy errors and make the gradients smoother. This added to an almost watercolour effect.


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The background (BV4 Blue Violet) was where I ran into some trouble. I originally wanted a dark base leading up to a lighter top, but this was quite difficult to achieve on a first run as larger areas seemed to be a bit more difficult to navigate. Again, this is something that I know will come with practice and more knowledge of the timings of the pens (how long to leave the pen nibs in the mixing chamber). Once again I used the colourless blender to wash the gradient afterwards and this helped rectify a few mistakes without leaving any unsightly ‘bald’ areas as some correction pens might.

From my experience of using these pens so far, I would probably say they were best used over smaller areas, which makes them perfect for sketch cards or modern adult colouring books (due to the intricate nature of the images). However as they are alcohol based and often require repeating a wash over an image a number of times, they would not be suitable for double sided pages such as those in Colour Me Mindful or Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain, as they would bleed over to the next page. So I would stick to single page colouring books or photocopies with these pens if I were you.


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I went in with the RD4 Crimson Red Chameleon pen to finish the small details on the mouth and found the bullet nib to be very accurate. I also did not encounter any bleeding despite having just saturated the page with the blue tones. While the brush pen went over my line art quite a bit (due to the nib slowly being ‘broken in’) it was easily cleaned using the colourless blender and did not have the tie die effect of bursting out into the other colours that many alcohol based markers do when you are working on a quick piece that you do not leave to dry.

At first I was a bit worried that the brush pen nibs were crushing too quickly and thought it might have been my own technique, or me being too forceful when pushing them in the mixing chamber, but the instructions state that this is all part of the natural ‘breaking in process’ and that nibs are “inexpensive and easy to replace” with the intention being that the fibers will separate and “perform more like a paintbrush”.


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Above shows my final piece before going in with my Uni-Posca White Paint Pen and thickening up the holding lines with the Chameleon 0.6mm Detail Pen. I ended up adding some highlights and cell shading using my Copic Ciao Markers as well as blending in a few hues that I wanted, to make the colouring of the character a bit more accurate. The one criticism I do have of the Chameleon Pens would be that although in only 20 colour pens there are over 100 tones and hues, there is something to be said for having a pen or two that are the one colour you are looking for. If the base colour of the Chameleon Pen is not the colour you are imagining, then any tonal variation of that will not be sufficient.

The bonus of the pens’ mixing chamber technology, however, is that you can use them with your existing alcohol marker collection to create new variations of those colour tones, so it essentially amplifies your current collection.


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Finally I used the Chameleon Detail Pen to outline Glaceon and add some shadows. I then used the Uni-Posca White Paint Pen to create a thick white holding line (no real reason except I love that style), highlights, snow effects and an icy sheen. Overall this piece took me about an hour due to having to figure out the mechanics and techniques of the Chameleon Pens, but that is something that will improve with practice.

Not including the other types of pens that I listed in my descriptions, the tones on the final piece were created using only 5 pens(!) from the 20 colours as well as the colourless blender and detail pen. The quality of the final image is one which I am incredibly happy with and the idea of taking the one set of only 22 pens to a convention, rather than the far larger amount of other alcohol based markers it would take to achieve this image, is definitely a huge selling point for a commercial artist.

I am looking forward to experimenting more with these pens in the future, especially for images where subtle gradients would be a highlight of the image (seascapes or skyscapes for example). I am also curious how well the pens work with varying skin tones and blending with each other (which I only slightly touched on with Glaceon’s eyes which are a mixture of Aqua Marine and Royal Blue). Until then, be sure to check out the final image on my Instagram and visit the Chameleon Pens website for more information. They have a bunch of useful tutorials and videos which explain how the pens work.


 

Tangled Up In Blue…


In early 2015 I was asked by Orion Publishing if I would be interested in illustrating not one, but THREE 51 page colouring books for adults, entitled ‘Colour Me Mindful: Birds’, ‘Tropical’ and ‘Underwater’. I had literally just moved out of my parents’ house and finished up two huge sketchcard projects for DC and IDW within the same week. The first thing I had moved into my new home was my drawing desk and computer and I spent the first few days surrounded by boxes begging to be unpacked while I furiously scribbled away. I had mistakenly thought that moving house ‘only down the road’ would be simple and of course I could take on two sketchcard projects in the middle of it – I mean, who turns down jobs from DC and IDW when they come knocking? My Kickstarter backers were more than understanding and so many of them wished me luck with the projects. I was just so proud to be working for two of my favourite comic publishers that I didn’t mind the sleepless nights.

I had been living at home with my parents for the last few years while I worked on getting my art career off the ground. It had been amazingly beneficial of course and I cannot thank my parents enough for giving me that chance to work on my portfolio, travel around the country easily and of course being there for me. But nothing prepared me for the incentive and drive having ‘the fear’ of living in a rented house again (especially when you are a self-employed freelance artist) would give me. So of course when Orion contacted me with their brief for three colouring books I jumped at the chance. This was not only an opportunity to work on a project which meant a lot to me (having studied mindfulness and art therapy in the past) but also get my name into bookstores (and of course pay my rent!).

At first things developed at a nice easy pace. The books were due in June and I was communicating back and forth as I drew up sample pages and covers, taking time to make sure they were what the publishers wanted and working up roughs and pencils before moving onto inks. As I was going to have to wait until the pages were all complete and sent in to get paid, I obviously had to take on other work at the same time, including several new sketchcard sets, private commissions and of course travelling around to conventions. On top of all of this I was determined to get ‘Cirque Du Mort’ ready for London MCM in May. I had already made my backers wait for so long due to being offered the DC and IDW work (as well as working on everything alone) and I was obviously getting worried about them becoming discouraged. So essentially, I was working on four books – the ‘Cirque Du Mort‘ and the colouring books.

It was only 10 days to go until London MCM and the final launch of the ‘Cirque Du Mort’ that I had the phone-call that boosted everything into overdrive. There had been an issue with the printers and Orion now needed the final pages for all three books by the 29th May instead of late June – giving me 16 days (not including the 4 that I would have to take out for London MCM) to completely finish the books – that’s 140 pages in 12 days. 11 pages a day. In those 16 days I think I slept for about 4 of them. My rubbish bin was full to the brim with energy drinks’ cans and when I did go to bed it was usually when my partner’s alarm went off for him to get up for work.

I suppose I can appreciate the irony that creating books to alleviate stress would be the most stressful experience of my life.

I did not have much time to celebrate getting the pages for the books in as I had to start sending out ‘Cirque Du Mort’ backer packages (now that the books had been printed and most merchandise ordered). Of the 268 amazing backers, I managed to pack up and send off 207 rewards before I got another message from Orion. They had liked the books so much that they wanted me to do another three. As I had not taken on any new work during the creation of the last books, I had nothing lined up for the coming months and of course I wanted to keep my working relationship with Orion going. They were a wonderful team to work with and they were giving me my own book series with my name on the cover – this is what artists dream of. So before I even had chance to breathe after the first Colour Me Mindful books were done and dusted, I was working on ‘Colour Me Mindful: Butterflies’, ‘Enchanted Creatures’ and ‘Seasons’.

I felt like I was ready for this series. That I knew what to expect. That I wouldn’t let any unforeseen circumstances creep up on me and force me to panic again. That was when someone very close to me, who had been in and out of hospital most of the year, became very ill. I was in and out of hospital visiting them and driving back and forth from Newport to Penarth, on top of which the emotional stress began to take its toll. I started turning down sketchcard work or having to finish projects early. I started coming home prematurely from conventions and getting my partner to post on social media for me when I was actually just zoning out and struggling to hold a pencil.

I knew the signs that my mental illness was rearing its ugly head. I had learned to spot them from a young age. So I called up my doctor for a pre-emptive strike and booked myself in for counselling. I was put on a three month waiting list. I called up MIND. Their waiting list was two months. I became even more reclusive and started cancelling social occasions with my friends (if I organised them at all). When I wasn’t traveling back and forth to the hospital, I was staring at a blank page trying to will my pencil to actually move. The publishers were amazingly understanding and I ended up getting the next books in a little late, but to a standard I was incredibly proud of considering the circumstances… You’d think it would end there, right?

Well. That was when I was asked to do three more books… Part of me of course wanted to say no, if only due to my mental health. But I didn’t want to stop working with Orion. It’s not often that an artist and a publisher work so well together. By this point I also needed the organisation of drawing every day, I felt like that was what was keeping me together. I needed a job to keep me structured. I needed to pay rent and bills of course. But mostly I had met so many people during the publication of ‘Colour Me Mindful’ who had messaged me saying that my books had helped them through tough times. I had emails upon emails from other people who had depression and felt that my work was helping them. That was probably the most inspiring thing that has ever happened to me.

Despite everything I was going through myself, there were people out there who found the fruits of my labour calming. One person even told me how they helped him stave off a massive panic attack when he was on the train. Another told me how they helped her forget her chronic pain – if only for a moment.

It was during drawing the last three books, the ‘Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain’ series, that the someone very close to me passed away. I had to take time away from working obviously, and stepped away from everything for a while. I phoned up my doctor and tried to push them to let me see a counsellor sooner and they booked me in with some local student counsellors after the books were done. I tried my best to keep on top of my mental health but everything just felt hazy. The stress, grieving, sleep deprivation, poor physical health (mostly from ‘deadline diet’ and reliance on energy drinks  *see sleep deprivation), guilt from the other projects I had allowed to fall to the wayside and those that just overwhelmed me; all hit me at once and it just seemed like everything was just too much.

I had a bit of a breakdown in front of my partner (I’m sure it was more than one of course, but one really stood out) and he just said “What can we do to fix it?” I suddenly realised that all the advice I had been giving people with mental issues, all the mindfulness I had been preaching, the #endthestigma conversations I had been encouraging – I finally needed to practice what I preached.

I started seeing the student counsellor every week. I went off my hormonal pill medication (which had been changed by my doctor earlier in the year and had been causing me a lot of distress). I started meditating every morning using mindfulness tapes. I improved my diet and stopped drinking energy drinks as much. I slept. I slept so much.

When I handed in the final three books it wasn’t to huge fanfare and congratulations, but the largest sigh of relief I have ever felt. And I couldn’t even feel it due to my anhedonia (emotional numbness) flaring up so badly. I have not taken on any new work since and have saved up enough that I can work on personal projects like ‘Cirque Du Mort’ and commissions over the Christmas, in-between looking after myself and trying to get back on a more healthy and personally productive schedule.

I look back over the things I have done this year: Self publishing my first creator owned book, ‘Cirque Du Mort’. Becoming a recognised colouring book artist. Being published in Germany, Australia, Canada, America and Korea. Publishing 10 books in one year. Working for DC, IDW, Dynamite and Marvel as a sketchcard artist. And it is still hard for me to feel proud. My depression robs me of that and that is just a sad fact. I see the loved one I lost. I see how disappointed some of my backers are that I didn’t get my books out to them in good time. I see the little things I could have done better. Those are the things my depression shows me.

But I also know that I will not let it win. I know that I got help. I know that I told those closest to me what was going on and let them help me. I know that I can get through this just like I have got through this before. I know how proud of me that lost loved one is. I know how proud of me my parents and friends are. And even though I can’t feel that pride myself yet, I know I will. It will just take time. Time, rest, help and heck – maybe even some mindful colouring in. Why not?


I Failed Art

by Anastasia Catris in Personal Comments: 8 tags: a level, art, art college, artist, gcse, results

A huge GOOD LUCK to all of those getting their A Level results this week and congratulations to those of you who got into your University of choice.

Just remember that your choices today (and the grades you get) don’t have to shape who you are forever – only you can do that. Either through the University experience; going straight into a job/career; or taking time out, you’re an adult now and it’s finally your decision as to what sort of adult you want to be. Not your parents’, not your teachers’ – YOURS!

Twelve years ago I failed Art.

I ended up studying English in University because I loved it. I made great friends who encouraged me to draw again after losing a lot of confidence. My A Level art teacher had told me comics weren’t a ‘valid medium‘. I met lecturers who taught me about comics that had won Pulitzers. I was introduced to the work of Spiegelman, Gaiman and McCloud. I ended up working on an art portfolio in my final year instead of my dissertation and applying to one of the best comic art schools in the world. And I got in.

I met my heroes, lived in the US and met some of the finest artists and friends I will ever know.

Today I am a paid artist and I get to travel all over the world going to conventions. I have worked for one of the biggest publishers in the world and one of my favourite magazines. I have worked for DC, Marvel, IDW and Dynamite on some of the most kickass characters I know; from Red Sonja to Harley Quinn; Vampirella to Peter Venkman!

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I get e-mails almost daily from beautiful, wonderful people who tell me that my newest series of colouring books for adults has helped them cope with their anxiety, depression or just the stress of day to day. As of this year I can officially say that my art is actually helping people!

I have people cosplay as characters I dreamed up. I have my own book which has been a number one best seller in its genre that I self published, wrote, illustrated, edited and lettered myself. There are characters and stories out there in the world now that wouldn’t have existed without me!

I get paid to draw, colour and create things on a daily basis (not much – I’m not going to lie – but it’s worth it to do what you love). People buy my art because they like it and it makes them happy – that is probably my proudest achievement.

Twelve years ago I failed Art and now I can proudly tell people, when they ask me what I do, that I am an Artist.

So no matter the outcome this week – Good Luck. You have an amazing journey ahead of you.


Stock photo used for title image – nanagirl_stock


DC’s ‘SuperVillains’ Sketch Cards by Cryptozoic


DC’s ‘SuperVillains’ Sketch Cards by Cryptozoic


I am very excited to be able to reveal my contributions to DC’s ‘SuperVillains’ Sketch Card Set published through Cryptozoic. I really loved working on this set with the awesome guys over at Cryptozoic Entertainment and cannot thank them enough for giving me the chance to work with one of the biggest comic book companies in the world, let alone one that it has been a dream of mine to work with since I was a little kid watching the 60’s Batman TV show on VHS! I got to draw officially licensed depictions of some of my favourite villains including Two Face, The Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, Poison Ivy and of course Harley Quinn.

One of my favourite parts of this set was the ‘Hall of Doom’ shaped sketch cards which were significantly smaller than other sketch cards I have worked on in the past, as well as being quite a difficult shape. We were told to show characters from the Legion of Doom on these cards, so I chose Cheetah, Bizarro and Sinestro and I was pretty proud of how they turned out.

The set is due for release on May 27th 2015. Below are some of my favourite cards from the set. I hope you like them as much as I do. You can see my full list of 32 contributions in my Gallery. You can also check them out on my Facebook and my Instagram @AnastasiaCatris.


Colour Me Mindful Book Series Announced


Colour Me Mindful Book Series Announced


I  am really happy to announce that I have been working with the lovely folks at Orion Publishing Group on a new series of colouring books for adults. These things have really taken off at the moment and it is wonderful to see the amount of beautiful books being brought out by some truly phenomenal artists. I have always been a huge lover of intricate line art, so this project is a dream come true for me. If you ever thought that colouring was therapeutic, drawing that much detail is double that for me. 

The first book, Colour Me Mindful: Tropical will focus on tropical scenes, ideal for wild bursts of vibrant colour.  You can expect intricate designs including tropical plants, fish, animals, birds and insects. I absolutely love what the guys at Orion have done with the cover. The colours are lovely and tranquil with a nice pop of colour from the parrot. If I am getting this excited at my editor’s digital colouring skills, imagine how excited I am to see what you make of my designs when the book is released in July!

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The second book in the series is Colour Me Mindful: Birds and does exactly what it says on the tin. You can expect a cute and (if you have anything to do with it) colourful array of characters from garden birds to birds of prey, owls to humming birds, peacocks to kingfishers, all drawn in a unique and heavily detailed way which should encourage your imagination. I can’t wait to show you more soon.

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Finally we have Colour Me Mindful: Underwater. This is probably the one I am most enjoying as I have always loved drawing underwater creatures (See Viceroy’s ‘The Deep’ or ‘Ocean’). As you can see from the cover, we will be delving back into the tropical waters again, but you will also see sea mammals and of course fresher waters too.

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At only £4.99 each, these books are set to be incredibly affordable and you can even pre-order them on Amazon now. I really hope you like what I’ve shown you so far and can’t wait to show you more in the Summer when they are set to go on sale.


CHADPOPS’ ‘Working Girls Throughout The Ages’ Sketchcard Set Released

by Anastasia Catris in Announcement, Artwork Comments: 0 tags: ACEO, art, artist, chadpops, sketchcard

CHADPOPS’ ‘Working Girls Throughout The Ages’ Sketchcard Set Released


This week saw the release of CHADPOPS highly anticipated sketchcard set ‘Working Girls Throughout the Ages’. I have been waiting to show you these cards for a while, mostly because I am very proud of them and really enjoyed all of the research that went into the history, costuming and even religion associated with the evolution of prostitution. I even managed to get a carnival character in there down to all of my research into circus culture while working on ‘Cirque Du Mort’.  The three legged woman you can see in my contributions is my interpretation of Blanche Dumas, a French courtesan who was born with three legs (and two vaginas! Not pictured *wink*). I have also included famous historical women who also happened to be prostitutes including the famous pirate Ching Shih, Calamity Jane (if only Doris Day knew!), Nell Gwynn and Mata Hari; and some religious characters including St. Mary Magdelene, the Aztec Goddess Xochiqutzal and Babylonian Goddess Ishtar. I also drew two male prostitutes – a Roman gladiator and a Japanese kagema.

You can see the entire collection of my contributions here, but below are a selection of some of my favourites. I hope you like them and you can also check them out on my Facebook and my Instagram @AnastasiaCatris.


 

Perna Studios’ ‘Classic Fairy Tale’ Sketchcards Released


Perna Studios’ ‘Classic Fairy Tale’ Sketchcards Released


I am happy to be able to finally reveal my contributions to Perna Studios’ Spring 2015 Sketch Card Set, ‘Classic Fairy Tales. I contributed 19 cards to this set and I really enjoyed coming up with the ideas. I have to say that even though I really enjoyed it, it was also pretty challenging as I LOVE fairy tales and, if I’m honest, wanted to draw too many things. Maybe one day I can work on my own little collection of fairy tales, or maybe even an illustrated book? This project definitely got me thinking.

Here are a few of my favourite from the set, but you can see the entire collection in my Gallery. I would love to know what your favourite card is, or what your favourite fairy tale is? I have already started working on three personal commission APs for this set, but still have two left so maybe I can work your favourite into one of those. So far Alice in Wonderland and Snow White are definitely proving the most popular…



Cover image is © Perna Studios.

Dinosaur Galaxy Preview


 

 

Dinosaur Galaxy Preview


The guys at Monsterwax have kindly given the go ahead to preview two of my contributions to their ‘Dinosaur Galaxy’ set. This is my third set working with animal likenesses (Insectae and The Deep from Viceroy being the first) and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I tried to stay clear of using any Spielberg reference as ‘Jurassic Park’ hase become a definitive mainstream view of what dinosaurs should have looked like, and most of that imagery was very dramatised. But one of the most fun things about this set is that we have no idea what colour many of the dinosaurs were! So I played around a little with the spectrum.

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This is actually (above) a dilophosaurus (or my rendition of one anyway). In ‘Jurassic Park’, you may know them as the spitting dinosaur that looked a bit like an over-sized frill necked lizard? Well, that was a very Hollywood over-exageration of the actual creature and there is no evidence of the frill or venom spitting. They were also apparently much larger than they were portrayed in the film, but Spielberg reduced their size so as not to get them confused with velociraptors.

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This (above) is my version of an Ankylosaurus. He looks a little worried about something, but I think he’s kind of cute. I noticed as I was doing this project that I tended to give the herbivores a cooler palette than the carnivores, whether or not that was a psychological choice I don’t know. I’m looking forward to getting the okay to show you the rest of the set soon, but until then, this small preview will have to do.