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Dinosaurs in Broad Daylight: The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Ornithomimus edmontonicus © Julius Csotonyi.

Back in 2012 I described paleoartist Julius Csotonyi as a Paleoart Rockstar. The title certainly fits: few illustrators today can make a living image-making full-time, especially in the sciences. If The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi: Dinosaurs, Sabre-Tooths and Beyond (Titan Books) is any indication, Csotonyi is not only surviving, he is thriving. This book is an expansive look at some of the most technically detailed and jaw dropping illustrations of prehistoric life to roar their way into museums.

Yet despite winning multiple awards and accolades, this book shows Csotonyi remains as down to earth as ever. On Facebook, he’s a vociferous defender of science and reason. When it comes to his artwork, his writing comes across as generous: he wants you to know who was involved in it coming about, the path of science that helped the image along, and the edits he has made to ensure accuracy. Csotonyi works hard and he cares. His success is earned.

Should you buy this book? Absolutely. I will happily say it’s on my Top 5 list of Paleoart books people should own.

Here’s a few images that may help you understand why:

 

Suchomimus and Kryptops © Julius Csotonyi. Besides the movement and reflected green lighting one, I also love this image for depicting dinosaurs rarely shown. The scene is based on Cretaceous Nigeria. A significant amount of Julius's work, including the Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants of Gondwana show has focused on newer discoveries from Africa and Asia.

Lythronax Investigating Squalicorax © Julius Csotonyi.

Albertonectes in the Bearpaw Sea © Julius Csotonyi.

The past few years Csotonyi has contributed a number of gigantic murals to museums: the publishers acknowledge this and the book has some fold-out pages to really let the detail and scale of his work pop. There is a forward from the Royal Ontario Museum’s David C. Evans, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology as well as a an introduction by Dinosaur Heresies legend, author/illustrator/paleontologist Robert T. Bakker. Csotonyi’s own notes are given context by co-author Steve White throughout. Like all of the best paleoart books in recent years, it’s not just pretty pictures.

For the paleoartists out there, Julius Csotonyi provides some amazing in-process looks at techniques he has challenged himself with. It was a real treat to pour over  how he painted works such as a fisheye lens looking up at dinosaurs walking overhead; a scientist’s reflection in the eye of a Troodontid; and how he tackles scenes taking place above and below the water simultaneously. As in our previous Symbiartic interview, Csotonyi is a great teacher.

All of that said, my favourite parts of the book I admit, are not the ones I have chosen to show here. In addition to the gigantic, bombastic crowd-pleasing battles between fleet theropods and their variously spiky prey, the book also contains a significant amount of quieter moments. A small, sleeping theropod camouflaged by its feathers on the forest floor; numerous digital pencil drawings and studies of dinosaurs in relaxed poses; and a two page spread of an obsessive array of cerotopsian heads, each ready for an equally ornate Baroque frame.

This book brings dinosaurs further into broad daylight, and Julius Csotonyi revels in every detail.

[A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.]

Links:

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To learn more about the man behind the paleo art, you might also enjoy:
Secrets of a Paleoart Rockstar: Julius Csotonyi,
Symbiartic’s extended interview from 2012!

Glendon Mellow About the Author: Glendon Mellow is a fine artist, illustrator and tattoo designer working in oil and digital media based in Toronto, Canada. He tweets @FlyingTrilobite. You can see Glendon's work-in-progress at The Flying Trilobite blog and portfolio at www.glendonmellow.com. Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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