Skulls are fascinating. How the develop is fascinating, but what we end up with just as much. What these hard bits in the heads of animals can tell us about the not-hard bits of the head is extensive, but we’ve not tapped this well too deeply. It’s mostly just inference at this point.
Whenever I encounter an animal I want to discuss, I start thinking about its skull, and as an artist this ends up leading me to drawing it. And if sufficiently inspired I put lots of little döts on it. Stippling is time consuming, but I have fun with it. Get into a rhythm and it goes pretty fast. I like listening to some classical composers when I add döts to paper, as the regularity of the rhythm keeps me in step, and it keeps it from feeling repetitive.
I’ve done a lot of these skulls in döt-form, so I figured I’d show you the few that grace my header:
Not all of these are done the same way, but they all reveal the strangeness of tetrapod diversity. Nearly all of these are amniotes; I haven’t added a fish or amphibian to the list yet except Isistius (cookiecutter shark), though I should. The latest is an old one, actually:
Eurhinosaurus longirostris appeared earlier, but I felt I needed to do it more justice. Before I drew that illustration, I’d attempted a stippled version, but that fell through. I picked it up again more recently and applied liberal helpings of corrective then re-döttëd it up. They aren’t identical, but they get the message through: this one has a very, very long nose (and a bit of an overbite). None of these skulls are meant to be perfect, they are not copies of single specimens, but rather collaborations among them, so while I use references from specific specimens, I use a lot more to make sure I can capture shapes and such. Most artists do this any way, but not all. After all, some times the resources are not there to grab more than a few.
I highly recommend taking multiple specimens aside and rendering from them separately, then collating them into a single illustration, for by this time you’ll have better mastered the döttïng required to get that aspect of lighting, shape, or shape done that you’ve been struggling with. Each piece is a practice for a future piece you’ll never even think you’ll be doing. As will that one.