Beasts of the Mesozoic: Ceratopsian Series Action Figures

Created by David Silva

Beasts of the Mesozoic: Ceratopsians- a line of scientifically accurate dinosaur action figures with elaborate detail and articulation

Latest Updates from Our Project:

An In-Depth Look at the Package Art Process for the Ceratopsian Series!
28 days ago – Sun, Mar 01, 2020 at 02:16:39 AM

I've been planning this for a while now and it's finally time to take an in-depth look at the creative process behind the package illustrations for the Ceratopsian Series! 

If you followed the Raptor Series, you're likely very familiar with the amazing art created for the line by Jonathan Kuo. While I was hoping to have him return for this second series of Beasts of the Mesozoic, he was consumed with his other work and wasn't able to commit unfortunately. However, this led me to working with several new inspiring artists and I'm very grateful for how everything has turned out. With all of the talent involved this time around, I felt it would be a great idea to show you all what went into creating the masterful package art for the Ceratopsian Series!

Big Update

This update will focus solely on in-progress work and the process involved. If you'd like to view the final versions of each piece, you can find them here.

Warning to those hoping for a short update-  There is a LOT to look at here, possibly my longest Kickstarter update to-date. So prepare yourself... here we go.


Shannon Beaumont

Shannon is an accomplished wildlife illustrator living in Germany, and very good friend.  I had her tackle the package art for many of the Chasmosaurines of the series. A lover of animals, Shannon really got into the work and it shows with the lush environments and additional smaller wildlife which can be seen in several pieces. What I love about her approach is how each scene feels like it's part of a larger story. You can tell that she really lives in each piece while she's creating it.

Chasmosaurus

 This was the first piece Shannon did for the project. A variety of 3D reference was used to get that large head frill into proper perspective, from Raul's Chasmosaurus head sculpt to similar figurines. 

Shannon was also a big help with designing the head frills for these dinos. Working from my side view color designs, she would come up with several possible options for me to choose from. This helps her with the illustration and also ended up informing the final look of the figure as well. For this one I went with no. 4. 

 Kosmoceratops

 Shannon had the idea for a night scene, incorporating the 'cosmos' and it worked really well. The lighting on this piece makes it very unique. 

 Here you can see the references used for getting the right look for the lighting along with the head frill design options. We went with the 1st option.

Spiclypeus

The idea for this one is actually quite charming- this Spiclypeus has an itch and needs a whole tree to scratch it. Great character development here, and again, it completely feels like one part of a larger story.

This one arguably has the most interesting frill design. Here are the options Shannon created. I chose no. 2 because I loved those eye spots.

Utahceratops

For this one, Shannon went with a sunset which is a very effective setting. She was also inspired by Brian Engh’s piece of Utahceratops in which he used a prehistoric bird (Mirarce eatoni) as a contrast to the large animal. 

Frill designs were actually inspired by the Gila Monster- not Darth Maul. We ended up using a modified version of no. 4 (bottom center). 

Pentaceratops

 I think the idea for this one was always a 'stampede' theme. A lot of action and kicking up of dust. The additional Pentaceratops in the background makes you wonder how many more there are 'off-screen'. 

After choosing thumbnail no. 2, Shannon created these options. no. No. 3 was selected.

 For this frill design, I ended up using a slightly modified version of her no.1 design. In any case, seeing  the frill design options for each piece was one of may favorite parts of working with Shannon.

In order capture the proper atmosphere and overall look of the piece, Shannon used Bison reference as inspiration. Both are large animals kicking up a lot of dirt- reminds me of the old west.

I've worked with Shannon on a number of pieces now between these and the small Raptor Series 2-packs,and each time she creates a new piece, I feel like I've gotten to know these animals a little better- they somehow seem more real in a way that goes beyond the visuals. 

 To see more of Shannon's work, go to https://www.shannonscribbles.com/


Jax Jocson and Carlo Arellano

The artist duo Jacqueline (Jax) Jocson and Carlo Arellano are illustrators/ concept artists for the entertainment industry with a heavy emphasis on creatures and animals. They were the first artists I worked with on the Ceratopsian Series way back in early 2018, well before I had any prototypes made. Together we would work toward establishing an overall look for the series. 

Xenoceratops (original version)

 Some of you may remember the initial announcement for the Beasts of the Mesozoic Ceratopsian Series a couple years back with Jax and Carlo's Xenoceratops illustration. Here are the original thumbnails.

This final version was originally intended to be the package art for Xenoceratops, but the prototype wasn't completed until later and this look was only based on my color design. Once the final figure was done a few months later, I felt I'd gotten too far away from this art to match it up. 

 As a kid it always bothered me when the package art didn't represent the colors of the product (I'm looking at you Dino Riders T-Rex). So I eventually decided to recommission the art later on with Raul Ramos, as Jax and Carlo were unavailable by that time. Despite this piece not being used for the final packaging, there were some design elements from it that helped me with developing the final look of the figure such as the striping on the back and tail. 


Zuniceratops

By the time we got to the second piece, Zuniceratops, I felt we were getting much more into a flow. The swampy environment along with the downward camera angle was perfect for this little fella.

Early color render

 One of this things that we did here that would become a standard moving forward was the emphasis on vibrant colors. The first piece (Xenoceratops) was good, but darker overall than I wanted for the line. We bumped up the colors on this one and it then looked like the lively dinosaurs I had imagined.

 One last-minute change that some eagle-eyed followers may have spotted was how the face of the Zuni changed from the original version to the final version. Again this was due to us not having a physical model to look at when the piece was commissioned. The final adjustment was made later on (right) to better resemble the actual figure.

 Styracosaurus

By the time we reached Styracosaurus, we were off an running. Styracosaurus is my favorite of the Ceratopsian family so I was really happy to see this come together so well. C was selected from this set.

 Here's an early rendering before color. 

 I would say more about this, but it was a pretty straight-forward development from here. The end result really breathed life into my very 'ambitious' color design. Only after seeing this art completed did I know for certain that the colors would work for the actual figure.


 Psittacosaurus

For this one, we wanted to play around with the sun as a strong lighting element. I came up with a thumbnail D which is just mash up of A and B. We would end up adjusting the neck position to a more realistic pose, but it seemed to be a good solution. It was also important to me that we saw the face as well as those famous tail quills.

 Here's an early version of the piece. We ended up adding in more purples along with a few other tweaks for the final. 

 This guy always had a lot of character. Of all the 'ceratopsians', this is the one I'd want most for a pet. 

 Centrosaurus

Centrosaurus was an interesting one as Jax and Carlo had the unfortunate task of working from my failed color design, which I would later redo.

Ugh... what was I thinking?

For this one, I went with 'A 'and on the right is more developed version.

The thumbnail would be refined a bit more and we were good to go. A muddy theme emerged during this process and I think that worked really well. Birds were originally going to be in the background, but this was dropped for the final version.

 The first pass while more blue than I'd imagined, was leaps better than my color design which actually was also more blue than green. With a few adjustments, like adding in more green, not only was the art completed, but we had the true basis for the figure design. This is the only instance were the final color design for the figure was developed from the illustration. 

 Centrosaurus is a great example of how many steps are sometimes involved with the figure design process. It's good to have a method, but it's also important to be flexible and go with the flow of the project. Centrosaurus ended up becoming one of the most popular designs of the line.

To see more of Jax's work, go to http://www.jaxjocson.com/

For Carlo's work, check out https://www.artstation.com/carloarellano


R.J. Palmer

Going into this Kickstarter, i'd become a big fan of RJ's work from the Saurian video game Kickstarter which happened around the same time as my Raptor Series Kickstarter back in spring of 2016. I'd been in touch with RJ on several occasions after that, and I eventually asked if he'd like to be a part of the Ceratopsian Series. Despite his full schedule, I was able to get him for one piece, and it was a very important piece.  As I've gotten to know him, I've become so impressed with his passion for creating realistic natural history-inspired creatures, real and fictional. We share a lot of similar interests and are currently discussing our next collaboration. 

Triceratops horridus (adult)

I did very little art directing with RJ as I really just wanted to see what he'd come up with. I provided a color design and left him to do what he does. Here is the very first work-in-progress image.

I was shocked to see that he included a T-Rex head, adding an additional complex element to the composition, but man, what a cool idea! 

 His initial pass at the head colors for the Triceratops were a bit too involved to translate into a mass-produced action figure, so I had him simplify the look a bit.

This is close to final. Now you can see much of the detail in the T-Rex head and there's more of an orange-brown look to the head. The final figure ended up being an amalgam of this art and the original color design, which I think worked out really well.

 And the most brilliant part is the 'teaser' for the Tyrannosaur Series. It was totally RJ's idea- I can take no credit.

For more of RJ's work check out https://www.rj-palmer.com/


Raul Ramos

What can I say about Raul... he's simply amazing. He's the only person who is credited as both illustrator and sculptor for the Ceratopsian Series, a skill set that I can really appreciate being a toy designer/ sculptor myself.  Raul has been my go-to guy since we began working together in 2018. Not only did he do the lion's share of the the Ceratopsian Series package art, but he also sculpted the Chasmosaurus head and many of the skulls used as the base for Ceratopsian head sculpts. In addition, he's responsible for cutting the articulation into 3D models for both Triceratops figures as well as Torosaurus, Psittacosaurus, and Protoceratops. Raul, I couldn't have done this without you, buddy.

Since Raul did so many pieces for this line, I'm going to go through most of this just showing the initial thumbnails. Still, there is plenty to appreciate as it was always a struggle for me to choose just one thumbnail for the final illustration. Enjoy!

 Protoceratops

 Medusaceratops

 Pachyrhinosaurus

 Albertaceratops

Triceratops horridus (sub-adult)

 Final sketch.

 Early color render.

Diabloceratops

 Early color renders.

 Wendiceratops

 Regaliceratops

 Xenoceratops

 Nasutoceratops

Einiosaurus

It's interesting to note that for many of these, Raul will create his own 3D model of the dinosaur and pose it according to the thumbnail. Here's one he created for this piece.

 Early color renders.

 Torosaurus

 As mentioned, Raul will usually work from his own models, but since we had just worked on the articulation for Jake Baardse's Triceratops/ Torosaurus, Raul used Jake's model for the Torosaurus thumbnails which ended up giving us an illustration that is very accurate to the actual psychical figure. My only request was to have two of them engaged in battle, an idea I loved in the original 'Walking with Dinosaurs' documentary. 

Original sketch and early color render.

 Avaceratops (Video Demo) 

So far, I've only given a brief overview of how this process works, but for the full story of the amount of work that goes into just one of these illustrations, I highly encourage you to watch this video that Raul made showing his entire process from start to finish for creating the Avaceratops art. It is quite impressive!

 For more of Raul's art, go to https://www.raulramosart.com/


Ezra Tucker

Ezra Tucker... Legend.  I'm still shocked that this even happened. 

As many of you are aware, Ezra was one of the artists who worked on the original Tyco Dino-Riders toy line back in the late 80's. He's also done a ton of work in the entertainment industry (some of you may be familiar with the movie poster for The NeverEnding Story? That's Ezra). After describing my idea to him for creating a new illustration for my Dino-Riders homage Monoclonius figure, he was very interested. He's been working on his own personal wildlife art for the past twenty years or so and had gotten away from commercial art completely. But he was willing to come back to it for this project and it was a huge honor to work with him.  We're talking about a man who's art inspired me as a young boy, so it goes without saying that this piece is very personal to me. 

Monoclonius

After discussing the composition, Ezra gave me a few of options for the general pose. In our conversations, I'd described that I wanted something that reminded people of the old Monoclonius package art  but also works well on it's own. My only requests were that the colors and mood were similar and that there be a volcano in the background. I was very adamant about there being a volcano. Of the two sketches shown here, we went with the second option.

Here is the very first rendering I'd seen and I was immediately blown away. It was pretty much done aside from pushing the contrast a bit more. The only notable difference here is the toenail on the right outside digit, which was  changed for the final version. This was hand-painted with acrylic on illustration board.

Ezra was an absolute pleasure to work with. His style was exactly what I'd pictured in my head, capturing the wonder of 80's paleoart with modern day accuracy. Simply fantastic. I liked the piece so much, I bought the original painting.

 To see more of Ezra's impressive body of work, go here: http://www.ezratucker.com/

Package Art Items now Available in the 'Shop'

Whew, that was a lot! I'm glad Kickstarter is allowing for an update this long. Before I go though, I just wanted to mention that printed items featuring the Ceratopsian Series package art are now available in the 'Additional Items' section of my web shop. The remaining stock of Ceratopsian 2020-2021 calendars, plus the post cards and a small supply of prints have recently been added.

Click here to see go to the Shop

If you've read this far, thank you so much! This was a very important post for me to share as I wanted to express my gratitude for being able to work with such a talented team of artists. Even though the focus of Beasts of the Mesozoic is about the action figures, the package art has always been just as important to me.

That'll do it for now- I hope you all enjoyed this. 

Until next time!

Credit Cards to be Charged for BackerKit-funded Items Tomorrow, All Printed Rewards Shipped, and More Fine-Cut Figures!
about 2 months ago – Thu, Feb 06, 2020 at 05:03:25 PM

Credit Cards to be Charged Tomorrow for BackerKit-Funded Items

Wow, can you believe it's already February? And yes that means it's almost time for credit cards to be charged for the orders containing BackerKit-funded add-on items (Feb. 7th). 

If you've already paid with Paypal this will not effect you, but for those using a credit card that have added items funded in BackerKit (you can check the preorder store to see which figures this applies to), please be sure that your payment information is correct as this charge will be essential for funding the manufacturing of the figures.

Click the image to go to the BackerKit Preorder Store

The Ceratopsian figures will remain available to pre-order on BackerKit at the current pricing until they are in-stock, however preorders will be charged within 24 hrs as of tomorrow. Once in-stock, the items will be available at creative-beast.com at the regular retail price.

All Printed Rewards and Pins Shipped!

I'm happy to announce that as of today, all of the printed rewards and pins have shipped to backers!

In addition, all of those who ordered calendars should have them by now.  The final shipments are on their way so if you don't have your rewards yet, no need to worry as they should be arriving within a week or so. If you'd like to know the status of your shipment, please private message me. 

There are still a few calendars, post cards and prints left and these will be added to my creative-beast.com shop soon.

More Fine-Cut Posed Figure Photos

I'm still in the process of going over all of the fine-cut figures prepping them for tooling. Here's a look at some more exciting poses!

Chasmosaurus belli
Spiclypeus shipporum
Kosmoceratops richardsoni
Regaliceratops peterhewsi
Styracosaurus albertensis
Triceratops horridus (sub-adult)

 I've been adding these images to a new gallery on my web page. Click here to see more fine-cut photos! Keep an eye on my social media as I begin showing off the 'big boys' next week.

Triceratops Fine-Cut Review Video

I posted another fine-cut review video recently for the Triceratops horridus (sub-adult) figure. You'll want to check it out the poseabilty on this guy!

BotM Styracosaurus Skin Now Available for JWE PC Game

Kickstarter backer Nicolas Alt Sabin has created this amazing skin of the Beasts of the Mesozoic Styracosaurus for the Jurassic World Evolution PC game,  done on a great model by 'Blackfrog'. Click the image below for the download link!

Click the image to download the skin for JWE

 See this magnificent beast in-action here!


Next Update Preview- 'Package Art Process'

Nasutoceratops thumbnails by Raul Ramos

 Later this month I'll be posting a look at the process that went into the incredible package art created for the Beasts of the Mesozoic: Ceratopsian Series. You won't want to miss all of the fantastic art that went into creating these illustrations!

That will do it for now- until next time everyone!

David

New Fine-Cuts Photos, 1st Articulation Video, and Printed Items/Pins are Shipping Now!
2 months ago – Mon, Jan 13, 2020 at 11:57:23 PM

Fine-Cut Update

All fine-cut figures for Wave 1 and part of Wave 2 (Body types 1, 2, 3, and misc.) are now in-hand and they're looking great! I'm still in the approval process with the factory and will be making some slight modifications to articulation, but I'm happy to say that everything is looking very promising overall!

 I'm still in the process of taking photos and videos of these figures before sending them back to China to be used for the tooling molds (stay tuned to my social media for all of the latest on that) but for now here's a sampling of what I have so far.

Protoceratops (vs. Velociraptor)
Psittacosaurus
Zuniceratops
Nasutoceratops
Diabloceratops
Monoclonius
Avaceratops
Einiosaurus

 And for an example of how the articulation will work with these figures, I made this short video with the Zuniceratops fine-cut. I plan to follow this up later with videos of the other body types as well.

 In addition to this set, I have confirmation that the fine-cuts for the Body 4 and Body 5 figure types will be arriving this week!


Printed Items Are On the Way!


Quick update for those expecting print/ pin rewards- About 1/3rd of the printed item rewards (including Pins) have shipped now, with the rest expected to be shipped by early February.

Print rewards and Monoclonius Enamel Pins are shipping this month!

That's all for now. I'll be sure to send out a reminder about the February 7th credit card charge for add-on items along with more fine-cut photos and videos in the next update.

Take care everyone- until next time!

David

First Look at Production Progress- Nasutoceratops Fine Cut, Final Tooling Parts Breakdown, and More!
4 months ago – Fri, Dec 13, 2019 at 12:58:14 AM

 First Fine-Cut Photos- Nasutoceratops

All of the parts for the Beasts of the Mesozoic: Ceratopsian Series are now with the tooling factory and fine cut figures are being worked on now.

Fine Cut?

A fine-cut is the very first stage of production in which the parts I created for the figures are duplicated and refined for detail and engineered for maximum range of motion at the articulation points. 

 For figure construction, I create a parts layout like the one below, for each figure. The parts are all designated with a letter/ number name so that they can be referenced throughout the process as needed.

 This particular fine-cut was without it's correct neck at the time of construction, so the next best neck was used for now, hence why it looks slightly longer than it's prototype. However this will be revised on the next version.

 The joints have all been added and the the horns are now removeable so that they can be injected in a softer plastic for the final version. The 'cheeks' will also need to be adjusted to fill the gap when the mouth is opened. Fine cuts usually require one or two rounds of revisions before being approved.

 Once a fine cut is approved, those parts will be used to create the metal tooling molds from which the final action figures will be made from.

As mentioned all of the Ceratopsian Series parts are with the tooling factory. Here's a look at every piece they have now, grouped according to those figures which share parts.

Click for a larger image

You may notice that the Triceratops has two different sets of horns. The idea is that the two sets will be interchangeable allowing you to display the figure as a younger adult or an older adult. However, I want to be sure this interchangeability can be done without detracting from the aesthetics of the final design. Normally there would be a nice break from the keratin horn to the scaly skin texture, but with the Triceratops, the face is all keratin so I want to be sure that we can keep the seams as minimal as possible if the horns are to be interchangeable. If this can be achieved, then we will proceed with the two sets of horns.

 A Final Farewell to the Ceratopsian Prototypes

While it happened a little later than expected, it finally came time recently to part with the work I've done for the past two years. These 25 hand-painted prototypes have concluded their service as display models and will now go on to be immortalized as the paint masters to be followed for creating their action figure offspring. 

Xenoceratops- where the line began.
Goodbye Pachy
Farewell my friends, may you all be the seeds for something much greater.

 Once these are received at the factory they will serve as the basis for how each figure is to be painted. First a set of 5-10 hand-painted samples will be created for each prototype. Upon my approval, these samples will be used by the various workers to follow for the mass production of each ceratopsian action figure. 

Credit Card charges for Kickstarter Surveys

As I'd stated previously, balances for Kickstarter-funded items added to surveys were charged as of the Dec. 4th lockdown, and the surveys are now locked. However, I was only able to charge for surveys not containing BackerKit-funded items as there doesn't seem to be a way to separate the Kickstarter items and the BackerKit items  within the same order as I had planned. Because of this, all orders containing BackerKit-funded items will be charged for the balance on February 7th along with the regular pre-orders. In the meantime, you may still make Paypal payments toward your balance if you click the 'Edit address' button on your survey order, but otherwise credit cards will not be charged for those surveys until February. Also, if you have a locked survey and would like to add to it before Feb. 7th, please private message me with your info and I can do this for you manually.

Group Shot!

Before I sent the Ceratopsian tribe on their way, I was able to get a shot of all 25 of them together at last! I've been looking forward to this scene for a long time- look at what we've achieved together!

Click for for a larger image

That will do it for now. Be sure to follow my up-to-date progress on social media:  Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And here's the pre-order store link: https://beasts-of-the-mesozoic.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders/

Take care everyone, and happy holidays!

David

ALL ITEMS UNLOCKED AND FUNDED! BackerKit Surveys Due Today!
4 months ago – Wed, Dec 04, 2019 at 08:01:00 PM

CONGRATULATIONS EVERYONE! 

WE DID IT! All 25 Ceratopsian action figures are now funded and unlocked! I can't express enough gratitude for the support you all have brought to this endeavor. Thank you all so much!!

So it goes without saying, the adult Triceratops and the Tororsaurus are now officially UNLOCKED!

Click the image to go to the gallery
Click the image to go to the gallery

Survey Update

The Kickstarter surveys on BackerKit are now at 89% complete as of this post. I know some people need a little more time to get their selections in or have payments to sort out and that's fine, but I urge everyone who hasn't finalized their survey to do so as soon as possible so I can take an accurate count of the items needed for production as well as being sure that I have everyone's mailing addresses. If you never received a survey in your email or if you're having trouble finalizing your survey, please message me and I'll help you as soon as possible. Remember, your order will not be cancelled regardless of your survey status at lock down, so if anyone is having issues, there's no need to worry about losing anything. Since it seems like people need a little more time, I'll hold off on locking down surveys until later tonight. 

In closing...

It looks like we only needed another month to get the funding we required for all of these horned beasties and wow what an achievement this is to fund dinosaur figures like these! It's a great victory, but there's still plenty of exciting work to be done and I can't wait to share everything with you from the production process, to the package design, the fine cuts, painted samples and everything else related to this journey. What a day this is. 

Again, thank you all so much and until next time!

David