This is a project I did for my figure illustration class in which we had to fill a 16x40 inch composition with human figures in a procession across the page. The subject matter was left up to the students, and my mind immediately fell on an evolution of man poster. I've always found the subject fascinating, and love to draw hominids and other ancient creatures. I've also often thought about doing reconstructions and scientific illustrations as part of my future career, and instantly saw the potential for learning with this project.
I started with my own research online and in books from our school library, but that was only to get my initial sketch done. I went to the University of Calgary's Archaeology department to get critiques and further information from an expert. I didn't see any point in making this piece unless I tried to make it as accurate as I could get it.
I ended up meeting 4 or 5 experts while I was there, and was even allowed to take photos of, and handle samples of fossilized hominid bones for helping with reference, along with the wealth of information I was given by the professors. It was an incredibly stimulating process, and I learned a lot about this most-interesting of subjects. I left with a lot more information than I thought I would, and was really excited to move forward on the project. After discussing the piece with Dr. Anne Katzenberg and listening to her critiques and insight I was inspired to start over from scratch, only using my previous sketches (which had been critiqued) as reference, and all the books and information I was given for a whole new drawing. Two of the main ideas Dr. Katzenberg left me with was her desire to see the Neanderthal stereotype broken. They weren't hunched-over half-beasts, but were just as able and intelligent and cultured as "we" were (at that time). They had language and would even burry their dead (and decorated the grave sites with flowers!). She also wanted to see a friendly Neanderthal, and really, so did I. She also mentioned how she thought the idea of making an "evolution of woman" poster would be a real breath of fresh air, and I felt I could really sympathize with her point of view. I thought it was a very stimulating idea, and that along with all the other amazing information I gathered, I resolved to start my piece from scratch.
I was welcomed warmly and patiently, and was thrilled with my experiences at the University of Calgary
(There's a larger version down below, with more accurate colors. Blogger always seems to dull my colors)
I regret not being able to meet with them again to go over the progress of the illustration above, but I tried to take their input and information and apply as faithfully as I could, and hopefully I didn't horribly misrepresent these wonderful hominids.
I'd like to formally thank Dr. Katzenberg for her incredible insight and input, Dr. Russel for escorting me and helping me with finding samples, as well as the books she lent me, Dr. Mercader for his welcoming attitude and generosity with his information, Dr. David for his input and also for the books he lent me, and to Nicki Engel for helping guide me and help me find valuable and fascinating information, and to all for taking time out of their hectic schedules to help me with this long-time-coming project! I couldn't have done it without you!
****here's a way-huge version for anyone who wants a closer look:
(I hope I didn't do a horrible job with these figures, and that if I did, you could someday find it in your hearts to forgive me.)
Here's a record of my process on the piece, including development sketches of the old version:
This is my first preliminary sketch, trying to get my first idea on paper. I had a lot more different "sub-genres" of homo, all very innacurate, all male
These are refined, individual sketches of the figures above, minus a few that I chose not to include pretty early on
These are some pictures of my trip to the University of Calgary
Me with a gigantopithecus skull reconstruction
Here's the process/development of the final piece in it's main steps
Rendering and type (finished)