Natural History and Science

Natural history illustration of the battle between two giant dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period: a tyrannosaurus rex and an ankylosaurus.T-REX versus ANKYLOSAURUS

From an early age, Brad had a fascination with dinosaurs. When he was in his early twenties his Father took the whole family to the enormous Natural History Museum in New York City.  Brad was particularly impressed with the dinosaur exhibits.

In 2017 he decided to do a very realistic depiction of a battle between two classic dinosaurs — the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the Ankylosaurus. Brad wanted the image to be almost photo-realistic in its detail, so he started by creating detailed physical sculptures in clay of each of the dinosaurs. Brad wanted the dinosaurs to look as though they were in a sun-bathed desert environment, so he photographed each sculpture using harsh, bare-bulb, rear lighting to simulate intense sunlight. The photos were composited together, and then were digitally painted to add fine detail to the skin. Brad wanted the Ankylosaurus to look very menacing, so he extend the spines on the back and tail of the Ankylosaurus.  Details around the mouth, teeth and tongue of the T-rex were painted in, and coloration was added to the head and tail.  A motion blur effect was also added to the tail.

Natural history illustration of a stag beetle on a weathered log.STAG BEETLE

When Brad was in his early teens he bought a World Encyclopedia of Insects and spent many hours paging through it out of sheer interest in the diversity of species of insect life on the planet. “I was especially fascinated with beetles such as the Stag Beetle, and Rhinoceros Beetle because of the large, frightening-looking horns that protruded from their heads. I wanted to do a detailed illustration of one of these that was similar to what I had seen in the Insect Field Guides that I loved as a kid."

Brad first researched and purchased a realistic model of a Stag Beetle and took several close up photographs of the model in the studio. He then hiked around the Los Angeles area and photographed a variety of dead tree stumps. Using these photos as reference he digitally painted a composite image of the beetle crawling across a tree stump.

Natural history illustration of a dragonfly in flight.Dragonfly in Flight

“I’ve always loved dragonflies” Brad recounts when speaking about his childhood interests. “Their brilliant coloration and fascinating characteristics always drew me to photograph them whenever I had my camera handy. It was nearly impossible for me to catch a good shot of a dragonfly in flight”, so in 2007 Brad decided to illustrate a dragonfly in mid flight. Brad found a detailed reference photo of the insect as it was perched on a twig. By selecting the forelegs and rotating them upwards he was able to simulate the legs being tucked under the body during flight. A vertical motion blur was then added to the ends of the wings, while leaving the wing area close to  the body relatively un-blurred.

Natural history illustration of a swooping falcon.SWOOPING FALCON

While learning the ropes to become a professional illustrator in Glendale, California, Brad worked a few years for a Court Reporting agency in Glendale, California, where he was often asked by the Marketing Director to do illustrations or retouching jobs for the company. Once such job was an advertisement to show the speed that the company worked by featuring a swooping falcon. Brad used a reference photo of a falcon and then digitally painted its likeness, using a motion blur to capture the feel of the speed of decent of the bird on its prey.

Natural history illustration of a common tree frog.Common Tree Frog

Between 1982 and 1984 just before college, Brad lived with his family in the rural town of Somers, New York. This area was abundant with wildlife of all types, and and during the Spring and Summer months he was often found frequenting the local ponds and fields photographing and recording the sights and sounds of the area. One morning Brad caught a photograph of a Common Tree Frog just as it was turning to look at the camera, and this was the subject of his illustration titled Common Tree Frog.