Land of early cats: back to the middle Miocene of Madrid

The world is full of awesome fossil sites which open windows to a fantastic past, and each of them offers fascinating opportunities for making reconstructions. But there is something special about working on sites that are near your home and invite you to compare the familiar, present day environments, with the wild, mysterious past.

For me one such case was the opportunity to create reconstructions of fossil sites which were the subject of salvage paleontological excavations during public works in Madrid, where I live. In particular, the works in the subway station of Carpetana, within walking distance of my home, revealed a spectacular fauna of Middle Miocene age, including the remains of an early felid as well as those of giant bear-dogs, three-toed horses, hornless rhinos and giant tortoises.

Here is the Carpetana scene, with all its layers in place

I created this illustration in digital format, and that was a fortunate thing because when I was well into the last stages of the painting, the designers of the exhibit came up with a change in the proportions of the final print, which had to become more “panoramic”. As a result, I had to “stretch” the whole scene, adding more landscape to the sides. This was a bit of a pain, but as a positive bonus it allowed more “breathing space” for the various animals, which in the original, more squarish composition were rather crowded. Having the whole thing done in separate layers really saved my day in that ocassion!

You can see the layer-by-layer structure of the painting in my latest video:


Posted on 23/05/2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Sheila Collins

    Beautiful! You are a master of this medium, Mauricio!
    I’d love to learn to do digital painting, but I don’t even know where to start so I guess I’ll stay with my pencils & brushes.

    • Thanks Sheila, in fact I am still in the middle of the digital painting “learning curve”. After some 10 years doing it I still feel awkward many times when trying to combine elements from different sources (a scanned drawing that needs to be colored with the graphic tablet, for instance). It is a matter of persistence, I suppose…

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