CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 17 . . . . April 27, 2001
Perhaps a Tyrannosaurus will tangle with a horned dinosaur. Pterosaurs will fly in the skies of your scene. Duck-billed dinosaurs herd near an ancient lakeshore. How would you begin? How would you know what anything looks like? This is the challenge that faces every artist who recreates the past.Building dinosaur models for a museum is an extremely detailed and difficult task requiring years of training along with great artistic skill and imaginative insight. Brian Cooley, who was born in Pincher Creek, Alberta, is an internationally acclaimed dinosaur sculptor who has created models for National Geographic and whose sculptures can be seen at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois, Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alberta. The book's first section shows how Cooley created his model of Sinornithosaurus, a recently discovered feathered dinosaur from China.
In fascinating detail, Cooley describes how he went about recreating the magnificent creature that lived many millions of years ago: skeletal structure, musculature, skin texture and feathers. He then modifies and adapts his dinosaur building techniques so that all age groups of students can find success and joy in their own Jurassic Park creations. His step-by-step description takes the student from preliminary sketches through the creation of the all-important skeletal structure to a finished product complete with eyes, teeth, textured skin, and feathers. Older or more confident students have the choice of more complex design options, while younger students might choose to simplify their designs using Cooley's suggestions.
The highest praise a "how-to-book" can receive is "I have ten thumbs and no creative ability, but having tried his method, I can say in all honesty that I am proud of my Triceratops, my wife is proud of me, and so are my students." The dinosaur unit is looking bigger, better, and more ferocious than ever, thanks to Brian Cooley.
Ian Stewart is a frequent contributor to CM and the book review pages of the Winnipeg Free Press. He can now include dinosaur builder among his few artistic accomplishments.
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