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My new website

In case you were wondering what I’ve been up to the past few weeks…

I want to promote a new website I set up for myself using Bluehost and WordPress.org (as opposed to WordPress.com). As was the case with this blog, the site is meant to showcase my art and writing, but I wanted it to look more professional (like a sort of portfolio for me).

Brandon Pilcher’s Creative Adventures

To be honest, now that I’ve set the new website up, this old blog now seems superfluous and obsolete. I’m not going to shut it down right now, as I want people who have been following me for some time to check out the new site. But I might be less active here unless I can find an alternate use for this blog. Anyway, check out my new site!

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Apidima 1 Portrait

Apidima_1_Portrait

Apidima 1 is the first of two specimens of hominin skull material recovered in a cave in southeastern Greece in the 1970s, the other being labeled Apidima 2. A recent analysis determined that, while the fragments of Apidima 2’s skull could comfortably be identified as that of a Neanderthal who lived 170,000 years ago, those of Apidima 1 shows features more characteristic of modern humans (Homo sapiens)—despite actually having lived in the region at least forty thousand years before Apidima 2. Which is to say, Apidima 1 may show that a population of modern humans had already colonized southeastern Europe from Africa by 210,000 years ago. In fact, Apidima 1 may be the oldest Homo sapiens specimen found outside the African cradle.

This notwithstanding, the people represented by Apidima 1 appear to represent another “dead end” in the annals of human evolution. All humans living outside of Africa, modern Greeks included, owe the vast majority of their ancestry to a later migration from the continent between 70-50,000 years ago.

Since the fragments of bone belonging to Apidima 1 all came from the back of its skull, its sex has yet to be identified. But given my weakness for drawing pretty women, of course I had to reconstruct it as female!

The Xianrendong Culture

The Xianrendong Culture

This is a small educational poster (or mini-poster, if you prefer) describing an Upper Paleolithic culture uncovered in the Xianrendong Cave of southeastern China. This culture is remarkable for having produced some of the oldest pottery ever recovered by archaeologists, attesting to a hunter-gatherer culture that had begun to settle down in villages well over ten thousand years before the development of agriculture. On the right side of the poster is a speculative reconstruction of how the people of prehistoric Xianrendong may have looked.

You can buy your own printed copy of the poster from my Redbubble!

The Elephant Knight

The Elephant Knight

A wary knight-like warrior keeps an eye on the border of her ancient savanna kingdom (as demarcated by the obelisk in the background) from the back of her elephant.

If you’ve seen the earlier pencil-sketch version of this scene, you might notice a number of changes I had to make during the digital inking and coloring process. For example, I had to alter the curvature of the elephant’s tusks, because the original’s tusks curved so far inward that I realized the animal wouldn’t be able to raise its trunk above them. This is one of the great advantages I’ve found with my method of digitally inking and coloring the pencil drawings I scan into my computer—namely, I’m able to correct any mistakes I made in the original sketch.

Elephant Wrangler Sketches

Elephant Wrangler Sketches

Two sketches of African warrior babes riding elephants, each drawn on a separate piece of paper. In all honesty, drawing a woman riding any kind of big animal presents a challenge of composition if you’re working with a typical sketchbook page. You want to put in as much detail on the heroine as possible without cropping out the most distinctive parts of her mount’s anatomy.

As you might be able to tell, the elephants’ tusks in both of these drawings have artistically embellished curvature to resemble those on extinct mammoths. It is fantasy art after all.

Jurassic Conifer

Jurassic Conifer

Through the first two periods of the Mesozoic Era (namely the Triassic and the Jurassic), coniferous trees would have been among the most common trees in the forests until flowering plants (or angiosperms) appeared and then took over during the course of the Cretaceous. That being said, I have never cared for how many “serious” paleo-artists model the conifers in their Mesozoic landscapes after modern, “Christmas tree”-shaped conifers found in today’s colder regions.

As the paleobotanist Duane Nash has pointed out, the conical shape we associate with today’s conifers is an adaptation to prevent snow piling up during winter, which would have been a rare to non-existent problem for the tropical to subtropical ecosystems that covered most of the Mesozoic world. In other words, the majority of Mesozoic conifers wouldn’t necessarily look like the sort of tree you’d get for your winter holiday celebration.

To illustrate this point, I’ve sketched out what I imagine a typical coniferous tree from the Jurassic Period would appear. It’s not supposed to represent any particular fossil species, but I did draw a lot of inspiration from the “kauri pine” found in the Queensland area of northeastern Australia today. The buttressed roots on this tree, although speculative on my part, are based on those found in numerous tree species throughout the tropics and subtropics.

 

Philos Got Lucky

Itaweret Kisses Philos

The Greek shepherd Philos, the male lead of my novel-in-progress Priestess of the Lost Colony, enjoys a kiss he’s earned at last from the titular Egyptian priestess Itaweret. He’s had a special weakness for her upon first sight, and he very much wants her to return the favor despite the cultural barrier between them. It’s a feeling that I believe any straight young man (myself included) could relate to.

Battle of the Sphinxes

Battle of the Sphinxes

Here’s a brawl between two different cultures’ interpretations of the mythical human-headed feline known as the sphinx. The one to the left is the Egyptian species we all know and love, whereas the other is a younger, winged variation depicted in the artwork of Mesopotamian, Persian, and other Middle Eastern cultures. I gave the latter sphinx a tiger’s body because I felt that would set it apart as distinctively “Asiatic” compared to the lion-bodied African version.

Triceratops Facial Studies

Triceratops Facial Studies

In recent years, some paleontologists have claimed that ceratopsian dinosaurs such as Triceratops would have had their whole faces covered with a thick sheath of horny keratin, based on reports of indentations on the skulls left by blood vessels like those underneath the beaks of living birds (which are also made of keratin). So here are two facial studies of Triceratops, one showing this hypothetical keratin covering (bottom) and the other a more traditional version with scaly skin covering the face instead (top).

Titanis the Terror Bird

Titanis the Terror Bird

Titanis walleri, the last of the terror birds, has shown the saber-toothed cat Xenosmilus hodsonae who really reigns at the top of the food chain in Florida circa 1.8 million years ago.

The prehistoric terror birds, more properly known as the phorusrhacids, were a family of giant, flightless, and carnivorous cousins of the modern seriema that thrived between 62 and 1.8 million years ago. Most of them would have been endemic to South America, but Titanis is one example that has been found as far north as Texas and Florida. You could say that these big killer birds were among the last of the big predatory theropods.