One of the most difficult challenges in paleontological illustration is making it naturalistic. That sounds like a contradiction. Dinosaur art is, after all, natural history illustration; but by naturalistic I mean that the animals need to look like they could really be alive. They need to stand and move like real animals.
It’s one thing to do that in paintings and drawings of modern animals, for which there are living examples and photographic reference; it’s quite another thing for animals that have been extinct for millions of years and must be painstakingly reconstructed from the evidence of fossilized bone and a knowledge of animal anatomy.
Paleo artist Mark Hallett has been doing it superbly for over 30 years. His giant sauropods look as though they should walk right past you, as if you should feel their footsteps vibrate the ground under your own feet. His Staurikosaurus and Compsognathus look as if they should dart out from the bushes as quickly as a bird.
Hallet’s work has been in major publications like National Geographic, Smithsonian, Natural History and Life magazine. His paintings have been on view in museums in the US, Europe, Australia and Japan.
Hallett’s site doesn’t have nearly enough of his art for you to get a real feeling for the scope and richness of his work. Consider the site a taste and look for some of the books he’s illustrated, some on dinosaurs, like “Seismosaurus”, with writer David Gillette (image above), and some in the series on prehistoric mammals with writer Barbara Hehner: “Ice Age Sabertooth : The Most Ferocious Cat That Ever Lived” , “Ice Age Mammoth : Will This Ancient Giant Come Back to Life?” and “Ice Age Cave Bear : The Giant Beast That Terrified Ancient Humans”.