This project helped the Workshop get going, from a freelancing side hustle, to a working art studio. The client wanted to have realistic sculptures, with the anatomy and finished appearance as accurate as possible to the current scientific thinking. These statues were to be displayed just out of the guests' reach, so they really had to hold up to scrutiny, to give them the feeling of sharing space with real animals. It was an excellent challenge for both the sculpting and finishing of each figure.
Client: Ark Encounter
First up were a pair of juvenile Baryonyx - an unusual, but amazing looking creature. As with most of the others, these were sculpted with an epoxy clay over foam forms. Some parts with sculpted in clay and molded in silicone, with resin casts used such as the spikes along the spine.
Tiny scales were hand sculpted across the bodies of the figures. Due to the relatively small stature of these figures (most were 3'-7' long), their scales were appropriately small, sometimes just a few millimeters each.
Not All Scales
Not every figure was covered in tiny scales - some were covered in tiny feathers! This Archaeopteryx figure represents Arcana's first project. The completed sculpture was covered in custom cut and painted feathers.
Attention to Detail
White turkey and goose feathers were cut to size and shape, then laid out and airbrushed in batches. Then each was applied by hand, or by tweezers, one by one, until the right look was achieved. This requires great concentration, an eye for detail and anatomy. Oh, and a great deal of patience helps.
Educational for the Artist
In order to achieve a realistic look, one has to learn quite a lot about the animal the artist is trying to portray. With dinosaurs, since we can't get any good reference pictures these days, it is important to look at many animals for inspiration - the was scaly skin creases, or the way muscle mass puts weight on the joints, or the way the skin has patterns and depth of colors.