Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
×




Details

Submitted on
April 20, 2013
Image Size
829 KB
Resolution
1300×897
Link
Thumb
Embed

Stats

Views
11,230 (10 today)
Favourites
498 (who?)
Comments
86
Downloads
129
×
Microraptor Piscivory by EWilloughby Microraptor Piscivory by EWilloughby
[Update March 1st, 2014] Most of you will have seen this by now, but I've recently taken some time to update this painting with improved lighting, color balance, and a few details here and there. For all but the most dedicated of watchers it might be hard to tell the difference, but I think it represents a definite improvement over the original.

This is a life restoration for Xing et al 2013 of the tiny, iridescent four-winged dromaeosaur Microraptor eating a fish, the osteoglossiform Jinanichthys, near a swampy Jehol pond. The illustration is based on a new specimen described as having the skeletons of 3-4 of these fish preserved in its gut. This study is important because it demonstrates that Microraptor was probably a generalist predator, capable of preying on on a wide variety of small animals. Previous specimens have been found with evidence of a scansorial mammal as well as an enantiornithine bird preserved in the gut, but this is the first instance of Microraptor stomach contents that takes it out of the trees by necessity and places it on the ground, near water.

The illustration incorporates a lot of research. The iridescent color of the animal is modeled after the Li 2012 color study on a Microraptor specimen, which detected fossilized melanosomes consistent with the iridescent black in some modern birds. The two long tail feathers were not preserved in this specimen, so were left off by request of the authors. The manner with which the Microraptor is grasping the fish is based on the Fowler 2011 study on dromaeosaur prey restraint, which analyzed the pes and leg proportions of deinonychosaurs and found them to be extremely similar to those of modern birds of prey, indicating that the animals likely grasped smaller prey with its feet while tearing at it with its mouth. The plant life in the background is modeled entirely after known plant fossils from the Jiufotang and Yixian formations, including the aquatic seed plant Archaefructus and the eudicot Leefructus, as well as the ever-present Ginkgo apodes. The nearby pond sports an algae bloom, a phenomenon that was probably quite common in early Cretaceous ponds, as blooms are often caused by falling volcanic ash.

As often is the case, Jon provided a tremendous amount of help via critiques and suggestions, especially with shading. Much <3.

100% zoom detail shot
Add a Comment:
 
:iconhannahmcgill:
hannahmcgill Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Hey, the research on this is very well-done, and so is the rendering and composition. I think it could use some more tweaking on the contrast and value scales around where the microraptor overlaps the tree -- the detail is competing so fiercely there and I think that it's a shame to have to work so hard to find the microraptor. I'd consider lightening the tree up using an overlay of that nice pale, mossy green color in the water so that the microraptor's silhouette reads more readily.

Anyway, you got the difficult parts done right, that's for sure. Love the water's texture, just rad stuff all over. :) I can really believe this animal existed because of your art.
Reply
:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thanks so much for the thoughtful, reasoned critique. I agree with the issues of value in this piece, and will certainly put forth an effort to not repeat the same mistakes in the future.
Reply
:iconhannahmcgill:
hannahmcgill Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
No such thing as a mistake, and I look forward to more work from you. :)
Reply
:iconsasiadragon:
Sasiadragon Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, I definitely see improvement! The feathers are more detailled and shiny, and there's more contrast in the picture. I also think the light is better, but it is a while since I looked at it. I think I commented on many things before, but the dear thing's shadow really stand out, it's excellently drawn. And especially the primary feathers are wonderfully detailled.
There is one thing I have thought a lot about with your microraptors ... I think you are going a bit overboard with the iridescent feathers. If we look at magpies, whose wings are iridescent like WHOA, then they appear blue almost all over. But the shafts of the feathers are still black, and so is their body as well as some of the feathers where they overlap. Maybe you could work a bit with the colour? I think that maybe moving the highlights a bit more towards the cyan would make it look even more striking, and less blue.
The background is so pretty, and the light on the moss is one of my favourite things. And man, all these details, you must be a patient soul! And then it features my all-time favourite dinawsawr, so what's not to love?
Reply
:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thanks for the detailed comment! The thing about iridescence is tricky, because there's actually nothing in the melanosome study that indicates it was actually blue or anything, else, just that it was "black with a glossy, weakly iridescent sheen". The paper also states "but the lack of preserved keratin prevented the assignment to a particular iridescent hue." about the studied samples. Blue iridescence is inferred from extant birds that are black with a similar type of sheen - i.e., crows, blackbirds, grackles, etc - but the reality is that we don't know what colors the gloss might have entailed, just that the feathers were dark and glossy. The actual color of the sheen could have been blue, green, cyan, purple, or anywhere in between.

If what you're saying is that people who draw Microraptor based on the color study should branch out a little more with how they depict the dark feathers with their iridescence, then I don't disagree! But I don't think there's anything in the actual study to indicate that my depiction is specifically wrong - the study was a lot less precise than a lot of people seem to realize.

I do think it would be very interesting to see more grackle- and magpie-like reconstructions of Microraptor, where the gloss isn't a single color, but varies in hue from purple, green to blue all over the body. There's nothing in the study to indicate this wasn't the case!
Reply
:iconsasiadragon:
Sasiadragon Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh, well, that would definitely be nice (interesting about the study) but it was not really what I was talking about. My point was mostly that when you draw Microraptor, it mostly looks a dark blue instead of iridescent. I took the magpie as example as it's the only bird I know who has iridescent wings that appear more or less blue in practically all light. What I meant was that I think you could get a more powerful iridescence if you take the dark shadows on the animal more into the blacks, and push the highlights into a shade that is a bit more cyan. Something that can also contribute to the blue appearance is that the shafts of the feathers on your painting also has a blue tone - and even in our discoball-friend the magpie, the shafts are black. If the iridescense should be even weaker, it would be interesting to see a microraptor where the blue only appears where the feathers catch direct sunlight, but that's more of a choice about how you reconstruct things.
Now that you mention it, a Microraptor with different shades of iridescense would be awesome. Maybe I should try to draw a green one ...
Reply
:iconmyuniverseinabox:
Myuniverseinabox Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Do you have a youtube channle bbecouse this art is beutiful I would enjoy speedpaints!Clap 
Reply
:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2014  Professional General Artist
I've never recorded my progress on a digital illustration to condense into a speedpaint, but it's an interesting idea to consider for the future. :)
Reply
:iconmyuniverseinabox:
Myuniverseinabox Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:D (Big Grin) 
Reply
:icontikicosmonaut:
tikicosmonaut Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2014
Marvelous! (As always.)
Reply
:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thanks a lot! Didn't know you were on DA.
Reply
:icontikicosmonaut:
tikicosmonaut Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2014
Only sometimes! (I keep meaning to beef up my presence here, but things keep intervening.)
Reply
:iconladycorvidaea:
LadyCorvidaea Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Absolutely amazing! :D magnificent work!
Reply
:iconzombiesaurian:
ZombieSaurian Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Absolutely gorgeous! And what Yoult said!
Reply
:iconyoult:
yoult Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2014  Professional General Artist
Unfaved to fave it again. :D
Reply
:iconorange-eyed-serpent:
orange-eyed-serpent Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I think I do notice a little difference now that you've updated it, and it does look better! :D The details are just mindblowingly realistic as always. The sheen on the Microraptor is gorgeous. So is absolutely everything about the background...if I were to try to point out every way in which this looks realistic/ awesome, I'd be writing all night. ;P

I do have a tiny critique though (literally). =P It isn't noticeable until I full-view the digital painting, but when I do, my eyes keep getting drawn to the bright white sheen on the Microraptor's eye. I think it's because it's so bright white compared to anything in the immediate surrounding, and seems a bit distracting for that reason? Or maybe just slightly out of place. It's not a big deal by far, but I'd like to know if you agree or if my eyes are just weird. XD
Reply
:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thank you for the feedback, as always! I'm not sure about the eye sheen. That part of the Microraptor's face is so dark, and the light part reaches just barely to the eye, that I think a bright sheen of that nature would be visible there. It is unfortunate that so many details get lost in the resize, but in the 100% zoom version the shape and position of the eye are a lot more evident. I could try dulling the highlight very slightly, but I worry that would make it too difficult to see the eye at all.
Reply
:iconorange-eyed-serpent:
orange-eyed-serpent Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes, it is a lot more evident in the full zoom version. And it doesn't seem distracting there. I guess it's just the full size DA version where I notice it. True, if you toned down the sheen it might disappear in the smaller image before one zooms in on it fully.
Reply
:iconjonagold2000:
JonaGold2000 Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Very realistic! I like the water :)
Reply
:iconaleksandraarts:
AleksandraArts Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
such realistic
Reply
:iconterencethet-rex:
terencethet-rex Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2013  Professional General Artist
nice perception of Microraptor
Reply
:iconalexandernevsky:
alexandernevsky Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This really is stunning, but the pose of Microraptor in particular is excellent - really looks like a living animal.  And I love the attention you've paid to the environment too, well done!
Reply
:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thank you kindly, Alexander. :)
Reply
:iconwhiskerfacerumpel:
WhiskerfaceRumpel Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I always enjoy looking at this painting.  It has such amazing details and beauty to it. 
Reply
:iconpraisedovahpie:
PraiseDovahPie Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2013
Awesome painting. I never would have thought of Microraptor as a piscivore.
Reply
:iconwhiskerfacerumpel:
WhiskerfaceRumpel Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist

This is just gorgeous!  The reflections in the water look so real.  Beautiful. 

Microraptors are such charming creatures, and you have definantly captured their charms.  Clap 

Reply
:icontomozaurus:
Tomozaurus Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2013  Student General Artist
Just looked at this piece again for the first time in a while and I think it's your best work so far. The refection on the water and the textures of the the aquatic flora, ginkgo bark, feathers are all amazing.
Reply
:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thanks a lot Tom, it's my current favorite of my work too.
Reply
:iconterribleter:
TerribleTer Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2013
Most impressive and lifelike, and fastidiously researched!
Reply
:iconjetblackgem:
JetBlackGem Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Love the blue. Before now I was only familiar with the red/brown feathered variety, but gosh, seeing/imagining what an iridescent microraptor would look like...
Reply
:iconredfeatherfalconhawk:
RedFeatherFalconHawk Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
I love that shade of blue.
Reply
:iconyemayema:
YemaYema Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2013  Professional General Artist
Microraptor is so enigmatic.... Lovely image!
Reply
:iconreirobin:
ReiRobin Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulation! Featured in the #21st-Century-Artist, click this link to be directed to the journal!
Thank you so much for creating inspirational work to be shared for all. : )
Reply
:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thanks kindly for the feature!
Reply
:iconsagekorppi:
SageKorppi Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I HAVE NEVER BEFORE SEEN THIS PIECE IN MY LIFE! ;)

I think you know how much I love this, which includes insane flailing and happy noises :)

SO AWESOME!
Reply
:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thank you Jenn. ;) I'm glad you like it.
Reply
:icondeinonychusempire:
DeinonychusEmpire Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Absolutely fantastic work! Regarding the two elongated tail feathers (or lack thereof in this specimen), I wasn't aware that was a "thing." I thought that was merely artistic license. What publication are the presence of elongated tail feathers mentioned in?
Reply
:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thanks a lot. :) Yeah, the same specimen used for the recent color analysis (Li 2012) also found two interesting new tidbits about Microraptor morphology: that the long-assumed headcrest of past specimens was more likely to be a taphonomic effect (basically fossilization "smushed" out the headfeathers, making previous specimens look like it they a raised crest) and that at least that particular specimen had a long set of paired retrices extending from the tailfan. See the fossil here: [link] As far as I know it's the only described specimen that preserves the long retrices, so it could be sexual dimorphism or interspecific differences between M. zhaoianus and M. gui.
Reply
:iconvitor-silva:
Vitor-Silva Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Student
Flawless :judge:!! Is's so perfect, both artistically and scientifically!
Reply
:iconmattmart:
MattMart Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Absolutely stunning! Fantastic job on the scenery. Understandable about the tail feathers - if Microraptor can indeed be divided into two or more species, the specimen with the long rectrices (and iridescence) seems to fit into the M. zhaoianus morphotype. Not sure how secure the referral of this specimen to Cryptovolans pauli (=M. gui) is though, given that the sternum isn't described.
Reply
:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thanks a lot Matt. What are your thoughts on whether the long paired retrices could be sexually dimorphic?
Reply
:iconmattmart:
MattMart Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Certainly seems possible given the state in Confuciusornis and possibly other ribbon-tailed birds. Need more samples though to run the same kind of statistical analysis (agree that we desperately need a Microraptor monograph!).
Reply
:iconxezansaur:
Xezansaur Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is a beautiful piece, and the scientific work behind is really amazing, it makes everything extremely believable.
Just one question: how did it catch fish? I mean, there are several ways of fishing (as modern avian dinosaurs show us); can we guess which was Microraptor's method?
Reply
:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thanks. :) There's really no way to know for sure how it was catching the fish. It could have been scavenging them, though they'd have to be freshly-dead (the skeletons appear whole in the gut). It could have waded and stabbed with its feet (though that has the problem of getting those legwings waterlogged), or fished them out with its mouth. I doubt that it was gliding over the water and plucking them out like an osprey, but I suppose we can't rule out every possibility...
Reply
:iconshinreddear:
ShinRedDear Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013
Waw. I really feel this scene real. I was suspected you would illustrate this new discovery and the actual piece is better than I tought. I particularly like the environnement. We can figure this is a slightly more temperate climate. And the Ginko leaves ! :) Bravo.
Reply
:iconsmnt2000:
Smnt2000 Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Incredible, looks like a photo. Brava!
Reply
:iconorionide5:
Orionide5 Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013
Incredibly beautiful illustration here. The reference to RPR is nice, but if the whole skeleton was found in its stomach then wouldn't it have eaten the fish whole?
Reply
:iconewilloughby:
EWilloughby Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Professional General Artist
Hah, good question. The authors were unsure of that at first too, but ultimately decided it was ok this way. I guess the Micro could have "tasted" the fish before swallowing it whole, or could have chewed it up a bit to make it go down easier! But the main thing to keep in mind here is that even though the fish skeletons might technically be whole in the gut, they are not articulated, so it's impossible to know whether it actually swallowed them whole or not. It could have torn it into more manageable chunks and then swallowed those, or it could have swallowed them whole and partial digestion is the reason for disarticulation (at least it died with a fully belly - worse ways to go, I suppose).
Reply
:iconorionide5:
Orionide5 Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013
Hmm, seems I've accidentally revealed that I didn't read the paper/abstract; I assumed the skeletons were articulated. Microraptor would probably have an advantage over modern birds in terms of biting pieces of food off, except for modern raptors.
Reply
:icontarturus:
Tarturus Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Looks like its having a good meal.
Reply
Add a Comment: