When Scientific American commissions an illustration to open one of our feature stories, the art department, illustrator, editor and author must work together to come up with an image that not only illustrates the concept behind the story, but one that will grab the reader as he flips through the magazine. Ordinarily, the illustrator then creates the artwork in a computerized graphics program such as Adobe Illustrator.
Not so James Gurney. When he set out to envisage the 90-million-year-old scene that author Paul Sereno describes in "Dinosaur Death Trap," Gurney created a physical model of the new dinosaur species Sinornithomimus dongi, which he then placed in a scene around the watering hole. He tested out possible light sources and angles from which to view the action, then painted what he saw. At every step he checked in with Paul Sereno to make sure all the details were perfectly correct, down to the marks in mud that the dinosaurs made during their final struggles. Watch here as Gurney takes you through his wonderfully analog process.