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Gurney Journey

This daily weblog by Dinotopia creator James Gurney is for illustrators, plein-air painters, sketchers, comic artists, animators, art students, and writers. You'll find practical studio tips, insights into the making of the Dinotopia books, and first-hand reports from art schools and museums.

gurneyjourney.blogspot.com

Fire Engine, Part 5 of 5

Finally, I set up a little diorama of the dinosaur with its modular cab, and placed some figures along the ground. What I'm looking for is the quality of light and shadow.


For the final painting in oil I changed a lot of the details, but having seen an actual model it was easier for me to imagine the real scene.

To thank my friend Ernesto Bradford for his contribution to the design of the fire equipment, I asked him to pose for the fire chief. He sent a roll of photos of himself in various poses and lightings. If you study the photo and the painting together you'll notice a lot of little adjustments to develop the character of Igneus Vinco, which means "conqueror of fire."


Dinotopian Fire Engine
Fire Engine, Part 1
Fire Engine, Part 2
Fire Engine, Part 3
Fire Engine, Part 4
Fire Engine, Part 5

Fire Engine, Part 4 of 5

To make a painting look three dimensional, I have to start with something real in front of me. That way I can light it with a real light and see where the shadows go. I had sculpted a little brachiosaur head and saddle years ago from Sculpey and leather. On top of that I added hoses and attachments from modeling clay and used an action figure for the firefighter.

Based on that model, I worked up the painting (about six inches tall) of the head gear.

For the modular cab, I used a piece of old mat board and hot glue. The warm light from the right suggests a fire is happening nearby.
Here's the painting of the cab with riders. I put lots of hand grips around the cab because of the amount of swinging that would happen on the way to the fire.

An here I am, my own cheapest model, posing with a Russian hat. Since there was no one around in the studio, I shot the reference using a self-timer.

Check again tomorrow for the full dinosaur and the fire chief.


Dinotopian Fire Engine
Fire Engine, Part 1
Fire Engine, Part 2
Fire Engine, Part 3
Fire Engine, Part 4
Fire Engine, Part 5

Fire Engine, Part 3 of 5

Ernesto Bradford of the E-1 Company designs fire engines for a living. He's a talented artist as well as an engineer. He can draw anything. His designs look cool, but they also work because of his knowledge of materials and physics.

In this ballpoint pen sketch, he has worked out the idea of the brachiosaur pumping the water. The weight of the water line is supported on the dinosaur armor.

The helmet of the dinosaur has a swivel mount for the water cannon, and a breathing filter, so the dinosaur doesn't choke from smoke.

And a modular cab is designed to fit on the back of the dinosaur, just like blog reader K.Tigress was thinking.

Now, how do you go from these drawings to an oil painting that looks three dimensional? Check back tomorrow!

All of these designs are copyright 2006 Ernesto Bradford.


Dinotopian Fire Engine
Fire Engine, Part 1
Fire Engine, Part 2
Fire Engine, Part 3
Fire Engine, Part 4
Fire Engine, Part 5

Fire Engine, Part 2 of 5

Thanks to those of you who posted comments on the last entry.

Ljay, Cat, and Colin, you’re right that there would be serious pressure losses caused by the hose reel. And K. Tigress, I love the mammoth idea, and your thought of putting the firefighters on seats mounted on the back of the brachiosaur. Donna’s point is right on the mark, too: the “little guy” is supposed to be a self-contained walking machine or 'strutter,' carrying a steam-powered pumper—all very complicated and prone to failure.

My consultant Ernesto Bradford was also concerned with the hose pressure losses. He wondered how the whole thing could be accomplished more simply. Here are some of the things he pointed out.

1. The extended ladder was unsecured, and would toss the fire fighter off the top whenever the dinosaur moved its head.
2. The volume of water inside the hose at that extension would weigh several hundred pounds. When it was spraying, it would be impossible to control.
3. The dinosaur needs a breathing apparatus so he doesn’t suffocate from smoke, and he needs some heat protection on the front of his neck.
4. The pump is unnecessarily complex, and doesn’t take advantage of the strength of the dinosaur. Why not have the dinosaur use its front legs to pump the water?

Ernesto then offered to sketch up some ideas. I’ll show you his drawings in tomorrow’s post.


Dinotopian Fire Engine
Fire Engine, Part 1
Fire Engine, Part 2
Fire Engine, Part 3
Fire Engine, Part 4
Fire Engine, Part 5

Fire Engine, Part 1 of 5 Postings

What would a Dinotopian fire engine look like?

While I was working on Journey to Chandara my friend Ernesto Bradford asked me that question. Ernesto Bradford happens to be the senior product specialist for E-1, the top firm that designs and builds modern fire engines. Here he is beside the brand new "Quest" model, which he helped create.

I told Ernesto that I had done a little marker sketch a while ago. I dug it out of an old file folder and showed it to him. He looked at it very carefully and rubbed his chin. “Very nice,” he said politely, “but it would never work.”Please post a comment and list the reasons why you think my design wouldn’t work. Have all your comments in by Tuesday morning and then I’ll tell you what Ernesto said.


Dinotopian Fire Engine
Fire Engine, Part 1
Fire Engine, Part 2
Fire Engine, Part 3
Fire Engine, Part 4
Fire Engine, Part 5

The Platte Clove Community

The Platte Clove CommunityOn Sunday some friends from the Platte Clove Community came by for a visit. They live just up the road in a converted summer camp at the base of Roundtop Mountain. Formerly known as the Hutterian Brethren or the Bruderhof, the Platte Clove Community is a faith-based group of about two hundred people who work, play, and sing in harmony. Even though they’ve chosen to do without a lot of modern technology, they have the largest hot-water solar collector in the Northeast.
The Platte Clove Community
Two of their kids posed making funny faces for a scene in the new Dinotopia book Journey to Chandara. I had just received an advance bound copy from the publisher, so I brought it along to show them. Here they are holding the book and this time not making faces.

We had a potluck picnic supper on the porch, with sweet corn, potato salad, and grilled burgers made from beef they raised.
The Platte Clove CommunityLater we made s’mores, ate watermelon, and sang songs around the campfire.

The Road Tour

The Road Tour

I should explain about what I hope to accomplish this blog. It’s called Gurney Journey because it will be a simple record of people and places that my wife Jeanette and I encounter on the road tour for the new Dinotopia book. The new book officially launches October 1.

I’m trying to do the same thing Arthur Denison did on his travels and record what he saw, heard, and thought during his journey. I want to use this blog to let you follow the ups and downs as we travel around to meet Dinotopia readers.

I’ll include pages from my sketchbook whenever possible, along with a few photos to take you behind the scenes.

Breathe Deep, Seek Peace

June 2007—Book Expo
The Jacob Javits Center in New York is the scene where over 50,000 new fall titles are introduced to booksellers. Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara was just one of them. I signed free posters for everyone who visited the Andrews McMeel booth, and I even had an audience with the Pope—OK, well, at least a cardboard replica of him.

Breathe Deep, Seek Peace
Breathe Deep, Seek Peace ALA Convention
At the American Library Association convention in Washington, I signed posters for librarians from elementary, middle and high schools, and from small towns and big cities, and even one librarian who was going to four countries in Africa to build up the libraries there.




Puerto Rico, July 2007
To celebrate my son Franklin’s graduation from high school, Jeanette and I took him on a trip to Puerto Rico, where he learned to snorkel. While we were there, we met up with Tamith and Aravis, two people from the Dinotopia Forum. They took us to visit the rain forest at El Junque, which looked quite a bit like the Rainy Basin.

Then we convoyed with Tamith and Aravis to the other corner of the island, where Tamith’s family has a houseboat. Her mom is a terrific cook, and made a delicious dinner of Puerto Rican cuisine, or as they call it, “comida criolla.”

Puerto Rico is sketchers’ heaven! I tried to catch my fellow breakfasters unawares by sketching in my trusty pencil sketchbook…

Breathe Deep, Seek Peace
...or painting watercolor street scenes in the sweltering heat of Ponce or the cool nights of San Juan.
Breathe Deep, Seek Peace Breathe Deep, Seek Peace

Most often sketching draws a crowd of curious onlookers.
Breathe Deep, Seek Peace
Fire Engine, Part 5 of 5Fire Engine, Part 4 of 5Fire Engine, Part 3 of 5Fire Engine, Part 2 of 5Fire Engine, Part 1 of 5 PostingsThe Platte Clove CommunityThe Road TourBreathe Deep, Seek Peace

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