Using Digital 3D Modelling to Make a Sabertooth “Blueprint”

One question I am asked often is “how long does it take you to create a life reconstruction of a sabertooth?”. Well, we can use as an example my digital painting of Megantereon drinking from a forest stream, first published in the book “Sabertooth”. For this illustration I used a digital 3D model of the animal’s skeleton and life appearance that helped me to make sure the proportions were right. Probably the single most important part of that model is the skull, so let us concentrate for now in the process leading to the creation of the skull model. The steps can be summarized as follows:

1.- Gather all the available information about existing fossil skulls of the animal, published or otherwise. This includes travelling to different museums to study the material first hand, since even the published fossils are often poorly figured (time: several years).
2.- Combine the best preserved parts of the different fossils in order to “Frankenstein” an ideal, perfect skull. Supplement the broken, crushed or missing parts of one skull with the intact portions of another, and draw the “ultimate” skull in several views (lateral, dorsal, ventral…) with loving attention to detail and measurement (time: several weeks).
3.- Scan those carefully drawn views, import them to a 3D modelling software and use them as templates to create a digital 3D model of the animal’s skull (time: several days).

Once you have gotten there, you can rotate the skull in your screen and choose the angle more suitable for your next sabertooth portrait, render the object and use that render as a template for your drawing of the living animal’s head.

This “collage” summarizes the last steps of the reconstruction process:
anuncio megantereon bebe collage baja

There is so much more invloved in the process, but this particular part is for me one of the most important, since the head embodies so much of an animal’s “personality”.

For a more lively explanation of the whole process, I suggest that you download our film “Bringing the Sabertooths Back to Life” (just follow this link: ). Getting ever closer to know the sabertooths as living animals is every bit as fascinating as it is laborious. And of cousrse, having the “blueprint” is only just the point where the real fun begins!

Posted on 20/02/2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hi Mauricio!

    Just would like to say that I like your art and that it is good to see that you are being successful as paleo-artist!

    Curious about which 3D software you used for modeling. And, are you planning to adventure more in the 3D world or just use it as a base for 2D digital painting?

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