Life Drawing Day at the Natural History Museum

I have lived in London for 8 years and am ashamed to admit that until now, I had never managed to pay a visit to the Natural History Museum in Kensington.

Generally speaking, I am quite disinterested in scientific displays and as a result, had completely missed out on the wonders of this spectacular architecture; a jewel of Victorian genius and its taste for revivalism. 

In short, the whole place looks like it has come out of a Romanic architectural book on steroids. The view above is from a corridor called Matroneo, the corridor that faced the central body of the Church (Navata) where the women, (Matrone) would witness the function.

As much as I tried not to let it get to me, I really am not keen on stuffed animals and keep  thinking that I am looking at something organic coated in chemicals, like a mummy and this makes my OCD flip.

How to make a dragon in 8 steps

Let’s make an animated dragon in 8 steps!

The title may make it sound like a walk in the park, but don’t get fooled fellows, it will surely be a painful and slow process the first time! And maybe even second and the third…

Step 1: find a reference

Detail, San Giorgio e La Principessa, 1469, Ferrara, Museo del Duomo

I decided to base mine on San Giorgio and the Princess painted by the great Cosme’ Tura around 1470.








Step 2: Sculpt it!

I used Oculus Medium for this and it took me about 30 minutes only. This was the funniest and more  right-brain involving part of the whole process…


Step 3: Retopologise the obj

This is how the mesh looks in Maya once you import it from Oculus, it’s A HOT  MESSH!





The screen grab below is in the between and after the retopology.

Personally I find drawing quads a rather enjoyable process, it’s a bit like doing a jig-saw.


Step 4 and 5: Rigging and setting up controls

Ok, this is where the multiple headaches followed by panic attacks may start to kick in. Below is a screen grab the first attempt I made. It worked well however I decided to use a TSM rigging machine in the model I used for the final animation.

Step 6: Paint Weight

This is quite straight forward to execute but it must be done carefully. The best way I found was to run a test animation to see the behaviour of the different regions of the mesh in relation to each movement.

Step 7: Materials and lighting

Assign some kind of material to your dragon and light up the scene! I wanted it to look like it’s made of shiny rubber.

Step 8: Animation

Finally, you get to animate! In this scene the dragon simply walks from one edge of the screen to the other.



Odillon Redon: Into the Dream

Over New Year I went to Copenhagen where I visited the show Odillon Redon: Into the Dream at the Glyptotek.

The museum itself is impressive, once passed the entrance you find yourself in a tropical lush forest in the beautiful winter garden, with its glass dome and  ancient palm trees.

The display of antiques is stunning. When museums show antique Roman and Greek art, I am always drawn to cabinets containing multiple versions of same detached body parts, in rows. I find it suggests a phenomenology of the style of a body part.

As a child I recall visiting the Riace Museum in Reggio Calabria. They had one of these cabinets filled with detached bronze testicles. I found this display (image below) with noses at the Glyptoteket super cool.

Going back to the Odillon Redon show, from the old building you access a futuristic pavillion.






I am always mesmerised by his work when I see it..

His production shifts from influences of the culture of the time back to a mythological past. In this dimension dream and reality can coexist.

He gained the nickname”The Prince of Dreams” amongst his fellows painters in Paris at the end of the 19th Century.

Odillon Redon worshipped black for half of his artistic life before suddenly embracing colour. But before that, black was his trademark and print was his favourite medium.


“One must respect black. Nothing prostitutes it. It does not please the eye and it awakens no sensuality. It’s the agent of the mind far more than the most beautiful colour in the pallette or prism”.

Odilon Redon. Into the Dream