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Creating the San Diego Zoo Murals – Part Two

As you can see, the last pencil drawing of the Pleistocene mural got a major revamp as per instructions from the zoo staff (remember, double-clicking on the images should enlarge them to ten inches in length).

The Columbia mammoth is now in profile and is now without its calf. The giant ground sloth is more prominent. The biggest change, perhaps, is that the secondary animals now all vary in size and distance from the viewer. Although many of the animals look itsy-bitsy now — some indicated with just a few lines — you have to remember that when the mural is painted full size these animals will become greatly enlarged.

As the composition is now beginning to firm up, I have also begun to put a little more emphasis on the Pleistocene plant life and its placement.

Remember that in the modern version mural that the still existing animals need to be in roughly the same spots as in their Pleistocene depiction, requiring careful planning in both pictures.

Obviously, the large sycamore centerpiece was not a hit with the zoo staff. Their reasoning is that with the tree, the scene did not convey the relative emptiness they desired to contrast with the Pleistocene content.

I cleared some of the trees in this version. I had liked the trees functioning as a sort of proscenium arch/frame but the scene still required even more sparseness and indications of a warmer, drier and slightly more desert-like climate.

A little change: The bobcat is looking at you, the viewer.

Same change with the bobcat in this one.

Next: Final Pencils

4 thoughts on “Creating the San Diego Zoo Murals – Part Two

  1. Bill,

    I think I like the newer revised framed trees version a little more than their final, but I understand their reasoning.

    The mammoth one is reading even better. My only “critique is that it seems like we should either see the whole character with a little breathing room, or he is a little closer to “camera” so we don’t lose just the bottom of the feet. Also, tho’ I am no one to critique YOU, I would raise his one leg even higher rather than tangent the frame.

    Not an easy assignment to be sure. So many details….So many animals and a rhythmic terrain. Looking great.


  2. Maybe the images hadn’t fully loaded when I made the last comments. I am seeing a whole different staging now. Disregard the mammoth comments.


  3. Hi Bill,

    Watching your progress with the Zoo murals is fascinating. I have to admit I like the first revision with the elephant facing the viewer and bolder. I have a friend who designed all the signage at Elephant odyssey so am interested as to where your murals will be placed. I am sure it will all be great when it is completed.



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