Composing with giants -and using predators as sideshows!
In the previous post we looked at the use of perspective for establishing the relative sizes of animals in a scene. One thing that I have found time and again is that my brain keeps deceiving me into representing the world as a rather flat scenery, and at the same time to minimize the size differences between animals.
Several years ago I started making sketches for a scene showing Paraceratherium, the rhinoceros-like giant indricothere of the Eurasian Oligocene. In order to make its huge size more apparent, I decided to put a couple of wolf-sized predators of the genus Hyaenodon in the foreground. I first attempted to sketch this scene purely from my imagination and without any perspective lines. It was a horizontal composition with the horizon positioned low in the frame, which emphasized the large size of the indricotheres -or so I thought.
I went on to the next stage of the process, drawing perspective lines and incorporating the measurements of the animals. And, oh surprise, the indricotheres looked so much bigger now!
In my third version I re-arranged the positions of the animals in the frame, especially the closest indricothere whose head was shown more laterally in order to make its proportions more evident. (I must confess that seeing the sketches all these years later, I find the previous version more interesting!)
A few years later I revisited the Paraceratherium theme, and my premininary sketch was built a bit like the previous scene, with a low horizon and the animals set largely against the sky. But I did not intend to include the hyaenodontids this time.
But as I progressed with the illustration, I found that I was missing a reference to really put the size of the beasts in perspective. I had to admit I was not ready to leave out my favorite sideshows from the Oligocene. So welcome back Hyaenodon! No indricothere scene is the same without them!