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I'm geologist, cartographer and amateur paleontologist, born in 1966, in a little village near the town of Bergamo (northern part of Italy), and now living in Liège (Belgium). My passion for drawing extinct animals and fossils started long time ago, as a child, in the seventies. I've started to draw dinosaurs in a William Stout style usung charcoal and black ink. As my passion for drawing and paleontology grew, I developed a "paleo-fantasy" style, like Zdenek Burian and Douglas Henderson.

A degree in Earth Sciences, obtained at the University of Genoa (Italy) with specialization in Stratigraphy and Paleontology, permitted me to acquire a more rigorous scientific knowledge that I use in the reconstruction of fossils and extinct organisms.

A spontaneous good skill in grayscale freehand drawing (I'm self-taught artist), allowed me to naturally shift to digital art at the same time as computer graphic software developed. Only Adobe Photoshop is used to draw the dioramas. The base was roughly drawn in black and white layer (directly on Photoshop and by hand) following the "celestial inspiration" and clearly after a more detailed bibliographic research concerning the particular ecosystem; for each organism presented. No less than three additional layers where then added containing the creature outline, the grey-scale background (that give the 3D feeling) and eventually the soft parts (e.g. the legs, antennae and gills for trilobites). In general I use a scanned image of the fossil (acquired from books, fossils, previous reconstructions...) and I draw the first outline in black & white and with the finest brush available. When needed and in particular situations a new digital brush was created. Starting from this first outline the shape was stretched, rotated, deformed to create a new, and more complete representation of the organism. Adobe Photoshop contains all the tools to do this kind of job. After to have terminated this phase, a new background layer is created and using brushes of different shape, size, and transparency I give a 3D feeling to the creature, applying different grey-scale tone from black to white.

I like to draw by hand on paper (I draw with charcoal landscapes) but with the evolution of computer hardware like digitizer (I use a Wacom Intuos3 9x12 inch tablet) it is really easy to draw directly on screen (also I use a 22" wide screen ViewSonic screen) The possibility to zoom in /out, create different layers that you can show or hide, draw and undoing many time as you want can really speed your artistic work. Using different spatial resolution allow to obtain dioramas that can be printed in high quality books as for big wall posters, like the Bolca's diorama, covering 4.50 x 1.40m wide without loosing details. I also use of Adobe Illustrator for final layouts which permits me to produce illustrative thematic posters in various formats and complexities.

Enrico Bonino

All images are the property of Enrico Bonino and all forms of reproduction are  forbidden without the written consent of the author. All rights reserved.